• Philip J Hehir, Chiropractor D.C, M.R.C.C

Are You Struggling to Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

When you wake up in the morning, how do you feel? Are you refreshed and rearing to get on with your day? Or are you a bit groggy and in need of more sleep? Wondering what the ideal number of hours of sleep are? What sleeping positions are best? Let’s talk sleep and what you can do to get a better one.



Before Going to Bed Prepare Yourself to Be More “Zen”

  • Calm Down Beforehand Although exercising regularly is good for overall health, in the final hour or so before hitting the sack, don’t do it. It will speed up your metabolic rate which in turn will make you more alert, making it harder for your body to shut down for the day. This also applies to home chores, so try and do these earlier on in the day.

  • Less Blue Light Turn off all your screens, including your mobile phone. Our phones emit blue-light which impacts our body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. Why not try going back to basics and read a book or just play some music? If you can’t escape the phone, then consider blue-light filters which you can buy online.

  • Have a Bath or Shower There is evidence to suggest that having a nice warm bath or shower before bed can help you fall asleep faster. The change in temperature can help signal to the brain that it’s time get some sleep.

  • Camomile and other Tea There are an abundance of sleepy teas available these days. Usually, your local health food shop has the widest variety and choice, so go local and check them out.

  • Cut Out the Caffeine EARLY Caffeine binds to receptors in your brain that block a sleepy hormone called adenosine. Not only this, it increases adrenaline production making us more alert. It takes about 5-hours for half of the caffeine consumed to be processed, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, best to leave out the coffee post-lunch time.

  • Alcohol I’m sure I don’t need to emphasise this, but although alcohol may make you feel a bit sleepy, you get a poor-quality night sleep. (A lot of us already know this!) Avoid it if you can, or keep it to a minimum, particularly before bedtime.

  • Essential Oils Some people find certain sweet-smelling aromas to be an effective relaxant to help them nod off. Try applying essential oil sprays or droplets onto your pillow. Make sure it’s a scent both you and your partner like, otherwise you definitely won’t be getting the good night’s sleep you were longing for!

  • Meditation Consider meditation if you have had a stressful day or are generally a bit mentally wired before going to bed. There are numerous apps or podcasts that can help with this.

  • Get Dark Ensure your curtains or blinds are well shut, particularly if you have streetlights outside your home. Getting the room as dark as possible will help you sleep better.

  • A bit of Cold is Good. There is some evidence to suggest that the optimum temperature to aid sleep is 16-18°C. Melatonin seems to be produced in greater quantities in a slight cooler environment.

  • Routine Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Try and develop a more tuned body-clock. Keep in mind this does include getting up the same time at weekends, as not doing so can reverse all your hard work of trying to re-jig your sleep rhythm.


How Much Sleep is Enough? According to the UK Sleep Council, there is no “normal amount” and it varies from person to person. There is some evidence to say we should aim for about 8-hours, but it really is an individual thing. Whether your reason for trying to get good sleep is the feeling of restoration or the making of healthy habits, we would suggest you try a minimum of 7-hours. Following on from that, sleeping more than 9-hours, in the long term, is actually bad for you and can affect insulin production, the hormone that helps regulate sugar in your blood.



How Should I Sleep?

We recommend lying on your back or on your side when in bed, particularly if you are in pain in your lower back. Place a pillow in between or underneath your knees. This should take some of the pressure off in the lower back. Lying on your front can put your spine under strain which can result in stiff and sore joints, promoting issues like headaches and lumbago. We appreciate some have been sleeping on their tummy for a lifetime, so it may take a while to break the habit. I have known patients to put a tennis ball in their front pyjama pocket to try and make it uncomfortable lying on one’s front with varying degrees of success. Sometimes the reason the body chooses the lie face down is a lack of mobility, particularly in the middle part of the back. We would suggest you get checked by the Chiropractor if this is you, to see if this can be improved.


Hopefully all of these hints and tips will encourage you to get a good night’s sleep. Please don’t hesitate to speak to your chiropractor if you are having trouble sleeping – our clinic is always on hand to offer advice.