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How can I improve my sleep?

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Keeping a sleep diary

Keeping a diary of your sleep pattern can help you spot things that disturb your sleep. It can include:

  • what time you go to bed and wake up
  • whether you got to sleep easily or not
  • any causes of disturbance, such as your mood, pain or fatigue
  • any caffeinated drinks 
  • your daytime activities.

Sleep hygiene

Healthcare professionals will usually suggest you think about 'sleep hygiene' – things that you can do to improve your sleep pattern:


  • get into a relaxing routine – get up and go to bed (ideally when you’re sleepy) at the same time every day
  • make your bedroom dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature
  • exercise regularly, but not within three hours of going to bed
  • eat sensibly so you don’t feel hungry during the night, but avoid eating and drinking large amounts just before bedtime
  • take a warm bath before you go to bed to help ease stiff or painful joints.


  • use your bedroom for stimulating activities, like watching TV, working or eating
  • sleep during the day because this can make it more difficult to get to sleep at night
  • eat/drink caffeinated products (tea, coffee and chocolate) after midday
  • drink alcohol if you experience serious sleep disturbance
  • smoke before bedtime or during the night.

If you can’t sleep after about 20 minutes, get up and do something that’s not overstimulating (for example, listening to some soothing music). Only go back to bed when you’re sleepy.

Changing your bed

If your mattress is old or uncomfortable, you should probably consider replacing it. Read more about finding a new mattress.

Changing the number or position of your pillows or choosing a soft or moulded pillow may be helpful if you have neck pain or upper back pain.

Some people find it helpful to sleep in a narrow soft foam collar.

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Back to Sleep and arthritis
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