Are YOU struggling to sleep? Pharmacist reveals nine simple steps to help insomniacs get some shut-eye

A pharmacist has outlined nine steps to help insomniacs in the UK get a good night’s sleep.

According to NHS data, one in three Brits appear to suffer from insomnia, with as many as two-thirds of teenagers (66 percent) saying poor sleep is having a negative impact on their mental health.

The average recommended amount of sleep for adults is between seven and nine hours per night, with children and babies sleeping more – ranging from 11 to 14 hours for very young children to eight to 10 hours for teenagers.

Insomnia can come in many forms, such as difficulty falling asleep or waking up several times during the night – and many insomniacs say this leads to problems concentrating, poor mental health and memory loss.

George Sandhu, Deputy Chief Pharmacy Inspector at Britain’s largest independent pharmacist, Well Pharmacy, has shared his expert advice for sleep-deprived people.

According to the pharmacist, some of the main factors that can cause insomnia are noise, uncomfortable beds, alcohol consumption or smoking, caffeine use, jet lag and shift work that can disrupt sleep patterns.

Read on to discover nine ways your insomnia can be treated, and where to turn if you need a short-term solution to sleep problems.

A pharmacist has shared nine steps to help insomniacs in the UK close their eyes – which is because one in three Britons suffer from insomnia (stock image)

1. Maintain a consistent routine

The first step to maintaining a regular sleep schedule is going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

If we wake up at the same time every day, we can follow the circadian rhythm and be urged to go to sleep at the same time every night.

2. Create a relaxing sleeping environment

It is important to keep bedrooms cool, dark and quiet while you try to sleep.

Sadhu adds: ‘Invest in comfortable bedding and consider using white noise machines, an eye mask or earplugs if necessary.

3. Practice relaxation techniques

Engage in relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to unwind before going to bed.

4. Limit screen time before bed

Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers or tablets before going to bed.

Sadhu warns, “The blue light emitted can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.”

Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers or tablets before going to bed (stock image)

Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers or tablets before going to bed (stock image)

5. Choose relaxing activities

Sandhu encourages patients to participate in calming activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music to let your body know it’s time to wind down.

6. Avoid stimulants

Reduce your intake of caffeinated or sugary drinks in the hours leading up to bedtime, opting for caffeine-free herbal teas or hot milk drinks instead.

7. Limit alcohol and nicotine

The pharmacist warns that although alcohol may initially cause drowsiness, it can disrupt sleep patterns and result in poor sleep quality.

8. Manage stress

Use stress management strategies, such as mindfulness techniques or journaling.

Sadhu also advises to “seek support from a therapist or counselor if stress is affecting your sleep.”

9. Promote healthy lifestyle habits

Emphasize the importance of regular exercise and a balanced diet for improving overall well-being and sleep quality.

However, avoid vigorous exercise right before bedtime as it can disrupt sleep.

10. Know when to seek help

If you continue to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite trying these strategies, see your doctor for further assistance.

Sadhu says: ‘Your local pharmacist can offer you several options for treating stress and insomnia, such as over-the-counter medications, natural remedies and self-care advice.

‘However, these should be used with caution for short-term relief, usually limited to 1 to 2 weeks.’