Counting Sheep in a Digital Age: Ten Tips for Restorative Sleep

February 5th 2018

Counting Sheep in a Digital Age: Ten Tips for Restorative Sleep by Madeleine Feeny

Good nightwear is all about good sleep, right? But unfortunately – rather like finding true love – the more you fixate on getting those vital eight hours, the more elusive they can be. So what steps can we take to avoid the wide-eyed waiting game; the 4am Instagram scroll; the long, lonely hours before dawn?
Counting sheep may have worked in the 19th century, but these days picturing a succession of woolly behinds bobbing over a fence doesn’t quite cut it. It takes much more to switch our digitally charged brains, overstimulated by late-night emails and a blood-soaked episode of Narcos, into sleep mode. Here we share our top tips for detaching from the day and surrendering to slumber.


  1. Stop using electronic devices an hour before bed and leave your phone in another room overnight. Screens emit blue light that inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
  2. Reduce your caffeine intake. So if you currently drink coffee at breakfast and after lunch, only have it in the morning.
  3. Wear 100% cotton nightwear. A heat conductor, cotton helps our bodies to maintain a comfortable temperature – minimising the chances of waking up freezing, or bathed in sweat.
  4. Read a book. Books give the brain something to focus on other than our own problems – which often race round our minds at night, causing insomnia.
  5. Exercise during the day. Whether it’s running, yoga, swimming or rock-climbing, do whatever you enjoy to burn energy and achieve that post-workout endorphin high.
  6. Get some fresh air. Even if it’s just a thirty-minute walk, afterwards you will think more clearly, work more effectively and sleep more soundly.
  7. Try not to have a heavy meal or drink a lot of alcohol just before bed. Your body will digest more effectively if you eat earlier and more lightly.
  8. Snack on nuts. Walnuts contain tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that produces serotonin and melatonin; while almonds are a source of magnesium, which relaxes muscles and decreases anxiety.
  9. Make sure your room is completely dark. If light penetrates your curtains, invest in a lavender sleep mask. If you are often woken by noise, buy some earplugs.
  10. If you are feeling overwhelmed, write a list to offload your worries. Then tackle them in the morning when you’re fresh.
And – hardest of all – try not to stress about it. Treat sleep like the boy you had a crush on at school: pretend not to care, and it’ll come to you. Sleep well!

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