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Sleep needs vary from person to person and change throughout the life cycle. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Infants, on the other hand, sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day, and children 10 to 12 hours a day. School-aged children and teens need at least 9 hours of sleep a night.

Tips to get a good night's sleep

Relax your mind
  • Breathing exercises can help. Breathe, using your abdomen not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out for three seconds. Pause for three seconds before breathing in again. Practise this for ten minutes every night .
  • If you still find yourself tossing and turning, abandon the bedroom and find something enjoyable to do. Jigsaws are perfect. Don't go back to bed until you begin to feel sleepy again.


  • Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep. but be careful not to do it close to bed time as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
  • If you are injured or disabled, you can still benefit from exercise. Check out disability exercise tips.

Create a calm bedroom environment
  • Your bedroom should be for sleep only. Avoid turning it into an entertainment centre with televisions, computers .

Avoid alcohol

  • Too much alcohol can make you restless. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it encourages you to urinate.
  • Drinking is most likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict airflow. This reduces oxygen in the blood which disturbs the sleep and contributes to a hangover.

Avoid caffeine

  • Caffeine is a stimulant which stays in our system for many hours. So avoid sources of caffeine like coffee, chocolate, cola drinks and non-herbal teas.

Watch what you eat

  • Eating a large heavy meal close to bedtime will make you have trouble sleeping.
  • Spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn, leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night.
  • Foods containing tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) is likely keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.
  • If you get the munchies close to bedtime, eat something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy. Carbohydrates such as bread or cereal will do the trick.

Set a regular bedtime and wake up time

  • Create a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps anchor your body clock to these times. Resisting the urge for a lie-in can pay dividends in alertness.
  • If you feel you haven't slept well, resist the urge to sleep in longer than; getting up on schedule keeps the body in its normal wake-up routine.
  • After only four hours, the brain has gained many of the important benefits of sleep.

It's only natural

  • Most of us have a natural dip in alertness between 2 - 4pm.
  • A 15 minute nap when you're tired can be a very effective way of staying alert throughout the day. But avoid napping longer than 20 minutes, you will enter deep sleep and feel even worse when you wake up.