1. Establish A Routine
Your brain is a delicate thing and needs to be trained to behave in a certain way - not unlike a puppy. Flitting between one thing and the next, watching telly, scrolling through your smartphone and doing work late at night can cause too much activity in your dark matter. It thinks it's the middle of the day so has no intention of switching off and having some downtime anytime soon. Establishing a routine, where you gradually get into your PJs and start to relax over an hour or so, will really help get your body and mind into the right state. Try to leave all technology from 10pm onwards, get into your PJs and start to unwind - it will really make a huge difference.
2. Set The Scene
Your bedroom should be a temple of sleep, so set it up to ensure all your needs are met. It should be free from mess, clutter and technology as much as possible (hard I know,) as well as having soft lighting or candlelight (rather than harsh bright light-bulbs.) This will help create the illusion of dusk and get your mind in the mood for a snooze; we're still primal creatures and respond to light, so make sure you have a great bedside lamp or a collection of soothing candles (I love Aromatherapy Associates) to set the scene and trick your mind into thinking it's time for bed. Flickering candles are also incredibly relaxing, so light them up and watch the patterns they create on the wall; you'll be nodding off in no time.
3. Invest In Equipment
Half of the battle when it comes to sleep is down to the equipment you're sleeping on. An uncomfortable mattress, cheap flat pillows and old duvet covers don't scream 'snuggle' - now will they help you to relax and remain comfortable until you're rudely awoken the next day. I've got a memory foam mattress that I couldn't be without; it really helps you to relax, feel supported and give you a great nights sleep. (The first three nights I had it I slept through for the first time in about a year!) Fluffy, comfy pillows that really support your head and neck will also make the world of difference; they don't have to be expensive, but picking up fresh pillows every twelve months will ensure your sleep is as comfy as possible.
4. Avoid The Monsters
Drinking alcohol, munching on sugary snacks and consuming coffee after tea time is a recipe for disaster. Alcohol and coffee are stimulants, so will only cause your mind to become alert when you want to snooze; it's tempting to sip a glass of wine and benefit from the sleepy feeling, but a few hours later your blood sugar will drop and you'll be wide awake. The same goes for sugary snacks and sweets: they taste good at 9pm, but come 3am when you're staring at the ceiling you'll be cursing that KitKat.
5. Relax & Breathe
Getting your mind into the right space is the most valuable tip I can give you. Breathing slowly, relaxing and slowly closing your eyes will really help you to drift off to sleep. Using a pillow spray such as This Works or L'Occitane will help to relax the senses and the essential oils (including lavender and chamomile) will comfort you. Adding a touch of oil to temples also really helps to evoke a relaxing sensation and will aid your sleep patterns on an ongoing basis; you'll be able to unconsciously inhale the scents and benefit from them all night long. One of the best tips I've ever been given is 'pretend that you're asleep' - you'll be amazed how quickly that pretense turns into reality.
Do you have any top tips for getting a great nights sleep?