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5 things to avoid if you want to get a good night's sleep

Most of us could do with getting a better night's sleep - but did you know there are various ways in which you could be unknowingly sabotaging your ability to enjoy a good eight hours of rest? We take a look at some of the worst offenders: 1. Digital screens TVs, smartphones, laptops and tablets all emit blue backlight which tricks the brain into thinking that it is dawn. This makes us feel alert rather than sleepy and affects the hormonal response that should be helping us to wind down at the end of the day. Tackle it by switching off screens for at least one hour before your bedtime and using an app such as F:lux - or orange light blocking glasses in the evening to counteract the blue glare. 2. Caffeine Many people are caffeine sensitive without even realising it. To be on the safe side, avoid coffee after 3pm and opt for a small cup of herbal tea such as chamomile before bedtime. The herbs are known to relax and calm, and will help you to drop off easily. 3. Late dinners Aim to eat your dinner 3 hours before bedtime. For most people this will be around 7pm. This will avoid you going to bed with a full stomach, which again, will put stress on your system and prevent you from relaxing. If you do feel that you need a snack before bed, try something that will balance your blood sugar, such as Greek yoghurt with some banana. 4. Irregular hours Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even at weekends. The routine will help your body to adjust naturally and help you to feel less tired. Listen to your body and bring your bedtime earlier if you need to. 5. An uncomfortable mattress You should change your mattress every eight years, but most of us will forget to do so! Lumpy, springy and generally ageing mattresses are a primary cause of bad sleep, especially if you share a bed. Invest in a new and better quality mattress that suits your preferred style and mode of comfort, and you will rapidly feel a difference!