How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

How to improve your sleep

The value of sleep for our well-being has been somewhat undervalued. 

For many years there has been a tendency to view less sleep as helpful and more productive. More recently the shift is moving back towards promoting good quality sleep for health and psychological well-being.

There is a great podcast from TED Radio Hour on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which promotes the benefits of good sleep. You can jump straight to Russell Fosters talk on the website here.

​When feelings are out of proportion to the situations triggering them or when the person becomes fearful of the feelings themselves, people can develop problems with anxiety.

When we detect dangers the feelings activate us to respond and react through our thinking and behaviour. The most immediate instinctive response to threat is ‘flight’ which means to run. If we can’t run then our next instinct if to ‘fight’. This is known as the flight and fight response.

Modern day threats rarely require us to run or fight. Instead, many of today’s threats require ongoing efforts to keep them at bay so that we maintain a safe environment. For example, financial security, having access to resources, maintaining a standard of living, being accepted and connected socially and emotionally, and having purpose in life.

Sleep Hygiene

“Hygiene – conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness”

It’s important to recognise that we have to actively work to protect good sleep by consistently applying certain practices, much like we have to with our dental hygiene. Stop brushing your teeth and your dental hygiene goes downhill very quickly!

​Whilst the vast majority of people know about dental hygiene, very few are familiar with practices that promote good sleep hygiene.

Booklets are also available on their website where they can be printed off in various formats or listened to in audio.

Northumberland Tyne and Weir have produced a great series of award winning self-help booklets on a range of problems, including sleep. It’s an invaluable resource which is now available in app form for your smart phones. Search “NTW self help” and look for above image.


Too much sleep can also leave you feeling tired and worn down. It’s important to find out what you need on average and sleep for the same amount of time each day, usually between 6-9hrs. Trying to catch up on sleep can back fire and lead to further sleepless nights or disruptions to sleep patterns. Consistency is key.

Sleep Meditation

These are very useful resources and are often grounded in mindfulness practices. Personally, I find they work but as with all online audio meditations you have to find the right one for you. The music, the guidance and general feel of the meditation are very personal things so it’s not helpful to recommend any particular one.

Just search online for “sleep meditations” and you find lots of resource.

CBT for Insomnia

This You Tube video covers in quite some detail both sleep hygiene and the more technical intervention of sleep restriction. Sleep restriction can be quite difficult to understand and apply. I would recommend getting some help from a CBT therapist via your local IAPT service if you’re struggling to apply the technique.