A bad night’s sleep can be stressful, damage our physical and mental wellbeing and impair our performance in day-to-day tasks.
CNBC spoke to sleep expert James Wilson, founder of The Sleep Lab — a company that helps businesses develop products and services to solve sleep problems — who shared three steps anyone can take to help prevent sleep deprivation.
Remove the stress from sleep
According to Wilson, dissociating stress from sleep is key to getting a full night’s rest — but this can be difficult for those who are daunted by the prospect of yet another sleepless night.
“The biggest mistake people make is trying to force it,” he told CNBC. “If you’re in bed for more than 30 minutes, get up and listen to the radio, read a book, or use a meditation app, then try again.”
“If you sleep alone you can do that in bed, but if there’s someone next to you, get out of bed,” he added. “Let your mind wander and when you get that sleepy feeling go back to bed.”
Wilson also recommended being open about any issues you may have with sleep.
“The more you talk about that, take stress out of the process and relax, the more sleep you’ll get,” he said.
Commit to a routine
It’s important to be as consistent with our wake-up times as possible, Wilson said, no matter how tempting it is to sleep in at the weekend.
“A consistent wake-up time drives a consistent sleep time,” he said.
But equally important is knowing when to go to bed — attempting to get to sleep too early or late can disrupt your body’s natural routine.
“The best place to start is identifying who you are as a sleeper,” he told CNBC. “What’s your sleep type — are you an owl, a lark, or somewhere in the middle?”
Wilson defines “larks” as sleepers who generally go to bed between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., while “owls” go to bed after 11 o’clock at night. He noted that people often take after their parents when it comes to sleep type — and knowing which category you fall into can help determine a bedtime that won’t leave you tossing and turning all night.
Having a “wind-down routine” is as vital as sticking to a sleep routine, according to Wilson.
“One big thing you can do is sit on the couch and be ready for bed, so as soon as you feel sleepy you can just go straight to bed,” he suggested, urging troubled sleepers to make sure all their chores are done before they begin their wind down.
“Don’t do things like putting your pets out or folding laundry right before bed,” he said.