reading time: 4 minutes

You know that feeling of lying in bed at night, staring determinedly at the inside of your eyelids, but completely unable to fall asleep? Then when you do drift off, you’re wide awake an hour later. Ugh. I’ve been there!

Sleep, as important as it is to functioning at an acceptable level, is elusive to so many of us. If you’re anything like me, the moment you put your head down on the pillow, everything on your to-do list starts running through your brain. This is NOT the time to solve your latest marketing dilemma or second-guess the conversation you had with your boss.

The importance of sleep shouldn’t be underestimated, but it’s also something that too many successful women think they have to forego to stay at the top of their game, when in fact the opposite is true. Getting enough sleep will improve your confidence, creativity, mental wellbeing, attention span, and even your sex life. Too little sleep and your performance at work and at home are going to suffer, not to mention the health risks of struggling on not enough z’s.

Quick fixes to try to make up for a bad night’s sleep like lots of strong coffee, energy drinks or caffeine pills aren’t going to make up for it, and in fact are likely to make it even harder for you to sleep that night, and the night after, and after that, and, well, you get the picture.

So if you often struggle to get a good night’s sleep, here are some suggestions that should help.

Turn your bedroom into a haven

For starters, you should only be using your bedroom for two things – sleeping and sex! No TV, no laptop, no checking Twitter on your phone (no phone at all, in fact!), no tablet, no late night snacks, no working.

The temperature of your bedroom should remind you of Goldilocks’ porridge – not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Science boffins recommend around 65ºF/18.5ºC as optimum sleep temperature.

To keep your bedroom dark, make sure your curtains are closed and heavy enough to keep out any light, blackout curtains are ideal. Your bed should be comfortable, so mattress shopping should be on the cards if yours is currently lumpy or sagging. You should be looking forward to falling into that bed at the end of the day!

Keep a regular sleep pattern

Going to bed and getting up at random times is definitely going to disrupt your sleep cycle, so once you’ve found a good time for you that fits in with your schedule, stick to it. That means even if it’s the weekend or you’re on vacation, and once you’re in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, you’ll probably find that you naturally wake up at your normal time no matter what day of the week it is. Don’t look on that as a bad thing, take that opportunity to fit in a treat while you’re the only one up – whether that’s 20 minutes of yoga or a chapter of the book you’re reading, make it all about you!

Get into a wind-down routine

That means no stimulants (caffeine, nicotine or alcohol) in the evening, and if you can start that rule straight after lunch, all the better. Schedule in a warm (not hot) bath at the same time every night, or a gentle shower if you’re not a fan of soaking, and follow it up with something that gets you in the mood for sleep. This could be reading a book, meditation, writing a diary, or a gentle stretching routine. Your body will start to recognize this routine and get you in the mood for sleep.

Forget the idea that every strong, successful woman should be able to function on only a few hours’ sleep, unless you’ve found that works for you. You should be aiming for between six and eight hours a night to keep your mind, body and sanity in full working order.

Clocks fall back this weekend — use that extra hour to catch up on your sleep!