How to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep ‘hacks’ debunked

Woman lying in bed stretching in the morning. How to get to sleep and which hacks to avoid.

We all want a decent night’s sleep. But which sleep hacks actually work?

With more unconventional methods like putting your pyjamas in the freezer, or having a nightcap being suggested, it’s no wonder people are confused about how to get a good night’s sleep.

We spoke to Silentnight sleep expert Hannah Shore, who has combed through hundreds of hacks – some useful, some destined to defy dreamy nights of slumber – to separate the good from the bonkers.

Pyjamas in the freezer

With more heatwaves forecast over summer (hurry up please!), now is a good time to put this bogus sleep hack to bed. Wearing pyjamas straight from the freezer can have the opposite of its desired effect.

The feeling of the cold material against your warm skin can put your body into shock and may therefore increase your body temperature, making it more difficult to sleep. Also, the pyjamas will retain moisture from the freezer, meaning you’re going to bed in soggy PJs. Yuck!

Music and TV in bed will definitely help me get to sleep

Lots of us fall asleep with sounds and images in the background, and while this can be a useful technique, it’s important to be mindful of exactly what you’re watching or hearing. Avoid any music that has a high tempo, or TV shows/movies that are too action-packed. The beat/pace of the content can have an impact on your heart rate and cause it to speed up. This stimulates your body and increases the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Ultimately, when it comes to sounds, it’s all about finding what works for you. But it probably shouldn’t be listening to Metallica, or watching Die Hard.

Having a bath before bed sends me off

Taking a bath before bed is one of the sleep hacks that has been around for decades. But watch the heat. While a bath before bed can help us unwind, opt for warm water rather than hot, as the latter can raise our core temperature. Or take a bath a few hours before bedtime. Our body temperature needs to drop 1-2 degrees to get access to the good quality sleep we need. 

Drinking herbal tea or having a nightcap is good for my sleep

Lots of teas have caffeine in them. Some green teas contain twice the levels of coffee, so look out for caffeine-free options. Tea can also be a diuretic, meaning you may be disturbed by needing the loo at night.

Non tea drinkers might go for a nightcap instead. While alcohol acts as a sedative, helping you fall into a deep sleep initially, as the night goes on it will stimulate your body. This results in fractured sleep. And it’s also a diuretic so you’ll have the same problem, getting up in the night.

I’ll get more sleep hitting the snooze button

The snooze button will keep you tucked up in bed for longer, sure. However, you’ll probably feel worse when you eventually pull the covers off. That’s because you can drift back off into a deep sleep, meaning you’ll feel groggy, disorientated, and sleepier when you finally summon the strength to rise.

If you can get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, then your body will learn to wake up from a lighter sleep in the morning – making the process much easier. If you’re still struggling, keep your alarm across the room, then you’ll have to get out of bed to turn it off. Just don’t get back into bed once you’ve switched it off!

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