"September marks The Sleep Council’s Sleeptember season – an awareness month that brings sleep into the spotlight - and in celebration of the month Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council lets us in on the secrets of a good night’s sleep….

Like proper nutrition and exercise, sleep fulfils a vital role in keeping us healthy and happy. We need a good night’s sleep to ensure we’re feeling fit, thinking sharply and generally to give us the appetite and enthusiasm to make the most of everyday living.

There are four R’s for good sleep:

1. Regularity – going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, programmes your body to sleep better.
2. Routine – routines associated with sleep signal the brain to wind down. Think baths, warm drinks etc.
3. Restful sleeping environment – your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible. Make it inviting.
4. Right bed – make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old.

It’s really important to learn how to relax before bed. If you struggle to wind down properly then take a look at our top tips below:

• Run yourself a warm foamy bath an hour before bedtime – this raises your temperature and the sleep mechanism is triggered by the core body temperature cooling down. Use a scent such as soothing lavender to get you feeling relaxed.
• Prepare a milky drink or herbal tea for your late night cuppa – avoid caffeine such as tea, coffee or chocolate.
• Many sleep tips involve the use of lavender/lavender oil as a relaxant, while this does work it should not be used in pregnancy (like many other oils – check with a health care professional (GP/midwife/pharmacist)
• Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid – it plays havoc with sleep patterns. It may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night. You will wake dehydrated and needing the loo!
• Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake!
• Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day.
• Resolve any arguments before bed. Ongoing conflicts are not conducive to putting you in the right frame of mind for sleep!
• When you get into bed, try to relax by reading a book, listening to some soothing music or even do some yoga - all help to relax both the mind and body."

For further sleep advice, visit www.sleepcouncil.org.uk or request our Good-Night Guide on 0800 018 7923.

The Sleep Council is a generic body that aims to:
• Raise awareness of the importance of a good night’s sleep to health and well-being.
• Provide helpful advice and tips on how to improve sleep quality.
• Provide helpful advice on choosing the right bed for optimum sleeping comfort.

The Sleep Council is funded by the National Bed Federation, the trade association for UK and Eire bed manufacturers and UK and EU component suppliers.