Set an alarm to go TO bed
No, not 'just one more' round of Candy Crush. Once that alarm sounds, off to bed you toddle. Make sure you've completed all your pre-bed chores and readied yourself for the next day so there's nothing to do but slip between the covers. Even going to bed half an hour earlier each night can make a big difference.
Dim the lights
Power down all your electrical devices at least one hour before bed. Smartphones and tablets emit a blue light that interferes with the production of melatonin - a critical sleep hormone - and increases your chance of developing sleep problems. If encroaching daylight is an issue, particularly if you're a shiftworker, blockout blinds or room-darkening curtains are a good investment.
Dark, cool environments help promote better sleep, so try to keep your bedroom temperature between 18°C and 21°C.
Check your bedding
Sleep experts advise investing in a new pillow at least every two years. Pillows past their prime may no longer correctly support your head and neck, which can stress your spine. If you wake up often with aches and pains, it may be time for a new mattress too. For personalised advice, visit a bedding store.
Review your meds
Some prescription drugs, including those for high blood pressure and depression, can mess up your sleep. Make a list of everything you take, even vitamins and other over-the-counter pills, and have your GP assess whether they could be disturbing your sleep.
Being physically active during the day will improve the quality of your sleep at night. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity most days of the week.
Eat to sleep
If you crave a bedtime snack, choose a carbohydrate with some protein or calcium that contains the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. Eat your snack about an hour before bed to allow the amino acids to kick in. Good choices include a piece of cheese with crackers, a slice of wholegrain toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or some wholegrain cereal with milk.
Smokers experience more disturbed sleep than non-smokers because nicotine is a stimulant that can exacerbate problems like snoring or sleep apnoea.
Cut the caffeine
Switch to non-caffeinated drinks after 2pm. Also, watch out for sneaky caffeine offenders such as green tea, energy drinks and chocolate.
Drown out the noise
White noise can drown out sounds that stop you from sleeping well. You can purchase fancy white noise machines but a gently whirring fan also does the trick.