sleep soundly tips

A good night's sleep means you wake up refreshed, energised and ready to face the day. And because we sleep for around eight hours every night, we spend around one-third of our lives in bed. So it’s important to choose the right bed. A Sealy Posturepedic bed provides you with the perfect balance of support and comfort for the ultimate night's sleep.

10 Tips for a Better Sleep

  • Go to bed and get up at consistent times everyday, including weekends
  • Get regular exercise, but not too close to bedtime
  • Drink less (or preferably no) caffeine, especially in afternoons and avoid alcohol before going to bed
  • Sleep on a supportive bed - click here to help you find the right bed
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime
  • Develop a night-time ritual - try a warm bath before bed or listen to some quiet music. Find out more here
  • Ensure your bedroom is comfortable, dark and quiet
  • Your bed is made for sleeping - try to avoid doing everything else in bed (like working, eating, etc)
  • If you can't get to sleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed and have some warm milk or chamomile tea, then try again


Some people change their car or electrical appliances more often than they change their mattress or pillows. It is important to remember your bed plays an important role in your health and well-being.  One key thing to think about is comfort. If you’re uncomfortable in bed, it can be harder to get to sleep and you will toss and turn more.

Ask yourself, does your mattress provide enough support? Do you wake with an aching back? Is there room for you and your sleep partner? How well do you sleep when you’re away from home?

What Does Your Bed Mean to You?

If you can fall asleep easily on your couch or chair, but find it difficult to fall asleep in your own bed, you may be associating your bed with everything but sleep. Do you use your bed for work? To watch television? This tells your body to be alert in bed, not to go to sleep.

Learn to use your bed for sleep and follow a regular wake-up schedule. Initially, remain in bed only for the hours you actually sleep. As you get in to the habit of good sleep, increase your time in bed by 15 to 30 minutes a night.

Reclaiming Your Bed for Sleep

  • Use your bed only for sleep
  • Choose a mattress that is comfortable and supports your body
  • Get into bed only when you're tired
  • If you don't fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes, get out of bed; when you are sleepy, go back to bed
  • When you are in bed try to think relaxing thoughts - picture yourself relaxed, drifting off to sleep, every muscle relaxed
sleep soundly kids

A good night's sleep means you wake up refreshed, energised and ready to face the day. And because we sleep for around eight hours every night, we spend around one-third of our lives in bed. So it’s important to choose the right bed. A Sealy Posturepedic bed provides you with the perfect balance of support and comfort for the ultimate night's sleep.

Sleep Essentials

Sleep is essential for early childhood development and directly impacts on mental and physical development. It is therefore important to understand your child's sleep and instil good sleep habits.

Circadian rhythms - or the sleep-wake cycle - are regulated by light and dark and they take time to develop – that’s why newborns have irregular sleep schedules. The rhythms begin to develop at about six weeks and by three to six months most infants have developed a regular sleep-wake cycle.

Sleep Cycle

  • Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) or ‘quiet’ sleep - blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur and important hormones are released for growth and development
  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or ‘active’ sleep - brains are active and dreaming occurs, bodies become immobile, breathing and heart rates are irregular.

Babies spend half their time in each of these states and the sleep cycle encompasses about 50 minutes. By about six months, REM sleep comprises about a third of sleep. By the time children reach preschool age, the sleep cycle is about every 90 minutes.

Newborns and Sleep

For newborns, sleep during the early months occurs around the clock and the sleep-wake cycle interacts with the need to be fed, changed and nurtured. Newborns sleep between 10.5 and 18 hours a day with periods of one to three hours spent awake.

Postnatal adviser Sharlene Poole from Little Miracles is known as New Zealand’s ‘baby whisperer’ and she says sleep is vital in assisting babies’ mental and physical development.

“But I also find they are much happier babies and cope with the immense amount of stimulation and growth much better when they sleep well, so their emotional stability is better,” Sharlene says.

"Without adequate sleep, mothers may not be able to cope with the consistency of parenting and developmental changes, such as teething."

“But it can also make mothers feel very vulnerable and less confident. In turn this can affect some babies who pick up on their mothers’ emotions, making them more unsettled than necessary,” Sharlene says.

Sleep Tips for Newborns (1-2 months)

  • Observe baby's sleep patterns. Newborns are often active: arm twitching, smiling, etc
  • Identify signs of sleepiness (some fuss, cry or rub their eyes)
  • Put baby in cot when drowsy, not after he or she is asleep
  • Place baby to sleep on back, with face and head clear of blankets and other soft items
  • Encourage night time sleep.

Infants and Sleep

By six months, night time feedings are usually a thing of the past and many infants sleep through the night. Infants typically sleep between nine and 12 hours at night and take 30-minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day.

When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become ‘self-soothers’ enabling them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night. Those who become accustomed to parental help at bedtime often become ‘signallers’ and cry for mum to help them return to sleep.

Sharlene Poole advises mothers to look at what they are doing in the day. “This often affects the way babies sleep at night - they may have too little or too much sleep in the day. So looking at routine is important.”

“Learn an effective settling technique that teaches a baby that bed is a happy place to be and then be consistent with your approach for three to five days before seeking advice from a professional. Every baby can learn to sleep well.”

Sleep Tips

  • Develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules for baby
  • Create a consistent and enjoyable bedtime routine
  • Establish a regular ‘sleep-friendly’ environment
  • Encourage baby to fall asleep independently and to become a ‘self-soother’.

Sharlene Poole says it’s also important for mothers to manage their own sleep. “Get into a routine; the more you have a consistent plan to your day - the more you start to see the opportunities you have for rest.”

School Children

School age children need 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Most school children have growing demands on their time - with school, homework, sports and more. They also become more introduced to technology, with TV, computers, the internet - amongst many other interests

This can all add up to sleep difficulties. For example, watching TV before bed has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.

Children who spend more time in extracurricular activities at the expense of sleep do not always perform as they should. Lack of sleep compromises many of the skills that make for academic success: attention, organisation, creative thinking and efficiency.

Sleep Tips

  • Teach school age children about healthy sleep habits
  • Continue to emphasise the need for a regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine
  • Make your child's bedroom conducive to sleep - comfortable temperature, dark and quiet
  • Remove TV and computers from the bedroom
  • Avoid caffeine in all forms, eg caffeine-heavy soft drinks.

Sleep Tips

Sleep is essential to a child's health and growth, promoting alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioural problems and moodiness. Make bedtime the same time every night. Bedtime should be a positive and relaxing experience without the TV or computer.

Encourage your child to fall asleep on his or her own. Have your child form positive associations with sleeping. A child should not need a parent to help fall asleep. The child who falls asleep on his or her own is better able to return to sleep during night time awakenings and sleep through the night.

Discourage night time awakenings. Going in to your child's room every time he or she wakes only strengthens your child’s connection between you and sleep. Even babies who are held and cuddled when they wake in the middle of the night soon learn to expect this and do not learn to go back to sleep on their own.

Only when the child is sick, has been injured or clearly requires your assistance should you enter your child’s room.

Help your child develop a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night, for example:

  • Provide a light snack
  • Have a bath
  • Put on pyjamas
  • Brush teeth
  • Read a story
  • Make sure the room is quiet and at a comfortable temperature
  • Put your child to bed
  • Say good night and leave.

Who can help?

If babies or youngsters have ongoing sleep problems, Sharlene Poole says help is readily available, but it’s important to get the right sort of help.

“There are many sleep consultants and Plunket offers advice as well. What is important is to find someone who is on the same page as you and someone who looks at your individual situation and your baby’s personality, so the advice is more specific rather than standard."

Little Miracles

Sharlene Poole
Little Miracles

sleep soundly teenagers

A good night's sleep means you wake up refreshed, energised and ready to face the day. And because we sleep for around eight hours every night, we spend around one-third of our lives in bed. So it’s important to choose the right bed. A Sealy Posturepedic bed provides you with the perfect balance of support and comfort for the ultimate night's sleep.

Sleep Tips

  • Make sleep a priority, lack of sleep can make your teen look tired and feel depressed, irritable and angry
  • Keep consistency in mind - establish a regular bedtime and wake time and maintain it during weekends and school holidays if possible; avoid napping late in the day as it might interfere with night time sleep
  • Most adolescents need between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep - your teen should first determine what time he or she needs to get up in the morning, then calculate the right time to go to bed to achieve at least 8.5 hours of sleep
  • Bright lights in the morning help signal to the brain it’s time to get up, conversely, avoid bright light in the evening
  • Be mindful of stimulants, after lunch it is best to stay away from caffeinated drinks - coffee, cola and energy drinks
  • Relax before going to bed - in the hour before bed, teens should engage in relaxing activities such as reading or taking a warm shower
  • Say no to all-nighters - staying up late can cause chaos to sleep patterns and the ability to be alert the next day and beyond, all-nighters or late-night study sessions before an exam might seem like a good way to cram, but they are also likely to drain brainpower.

Warning Signs

  • Do you have to wake your teen for school? And, is it difficult to do so?
  • Has a teacher mentioned your teen is sleepy or tired during the day?
  • Do you find your teen falling asleep doing homework?
  • Is your teen sleeping two hours later or more on weekends?
  • Does he / she rely on a caffeinated drink in the morning to wake up? And / or drink two or more caffeinated drinks a day?
  • Does he / she routinely nap for more than 45 minutes?

Parents can play a big role in helping adolescents develop and maintain healthy sleep habits. It is important to talk about sleep - including the natural sleep phase delay that can keep them awake late in to the evening - and learn more about good sleep habits in order to manage teens' busy schedules.

sleep soundly adults

A good night's sleep means you wake up refreshed, energised and ready to face the day. And because we sleep for around eight hours every night, we spend around one-third of our lives in bed. So it’s important to choose the right bed. A Sealy Posturepedic bed provides you with the perfect balance of support and comfort for the ultimate night's sleep.

Sleep Needs

Taking time to fall asleep, waking frequently and having trouble going back to sleep? Feel groggy and lethargic in the morning? Do you feel drowsy during the day?

Sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours a night. Some people can function on as little as six hours; others need 10. And, contrary to the popular myth, the need for sleep doesn't decline with age.

Dr Alex Bartle New Zealand sleep expert and director of Sleep Well Clinics says sleep is a vitally important, active part of our lives.

“As we all know when we miss even one night of sleep, it can affect all aspects of our life, from physical health to emotional and psychological health.”

Issues that can arise include problems with immunity, tissue repair delays and even a lift in exposure to cancer while hypertension and diabetes are also more common in those who sleep poorly Dr Bartle says.

Poor sleepers can also suffer psychologically with depression, poor memory and impaired decision making all possible factors. People can become irritable and somewhat short tempered when they sleep poorly.

“A bed that is comfortable for each individual is most important. In general, bigger is better, in that you can have your own sleep space, but still be with a partner in the same bed. Each individual in a partnership is likely to have individual requirements for comfort,” Dr Bartle says.

How do you measure how much sleep you truly need? If you have trouble staying alert during boring or monotonous situations when fatigue is often ‘unmasked’, you probably aren't getting enough good quality sleep. Other signs are a tendency to be irritable or difficulty in concentrating or remembering facts.

Sleep Tips

  • Ensure at least an hour wind down time before bed, reading is ideal, but avoid use of computers, iPads and other electronic media
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening
  • Exercise regularly, but not within three hours of bedtime
  • If you have trouble sleeping, don't nap during the day
  • Go to bed when sleepy
  • Make your sleep environment as pleasant, comfortable, dark and quiet as possible
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine to tell your brain it's time to sleep
  • Avoid looking at the clock all night and if you can't go to sleep after 30 minutes, get up and try a relaxing activity such as listening to soothing music or reading until you feel sleepy.

Sleep Intervention

Take any over-the-counter sleep medicine with caution. Your physician or pharmacist can advise on the different types of medications available and what’s most effective for you. If sleep problems persist for longer than a week or if sleepiness interferes with the way you feel or function during the day, consult a doctor.

Dr Bartle says some sleep clinics have people available to provide the important CBTI - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia. Otherwise doctors tend to prescribe medication for insomnia and will refer to a hospital sleep unit or privately for possible sleep apnoea.

Sleep and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of great joy, excitement and anticipation but can also be a time of sleep difficulty. Many women also feel very tired during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters.

Sleep Problems

Changing hormone levels can cause fatigue and sleep problems during pregnancy. Rising progesterone levels can explain excessive daytime sleepiness; hormonal changes may result in snoring.

Interruptions such as these combined with nausea and other pregnancy-related discomforts can result in significant loss of sleep. Insomnia can be caused by emotions and anxiety about birth, motherhood and work and changing personal relationships. And for most women, getting a full night's sleep becomes even harder once baby is born.

Sleep Tips

  • Drink lots of fluids during the day, but cut down at night
  • To prevent heartburn, do not eat large amounts of spicy, acidic (such as tomato products) or fried foods, if heartburn is a problem, sleep with your head elevated on pillows
  • Exercise regularly to stay healthy, improve circulation and reduce leg cramps
  • Try frequent bland snacks such as crackers throughout the day, this helps avoid nausea by keeping the stomach full
  • Special pregnancy pillows and mattresses may help you sleep better, or use regular pillows to support your body
  • Naps may help
  • Learn to relax with breathing techniques, which can also help when the contractions begin
  • A warm bath or shower before bed can be helpful
  • Talk to your doctor if you develop medical problems and / or insomnia persists.

Sleep and Travel

Drowsiness or fatigue has been identified as a major cause in traffic accidents. Jet lag is one of the known or suspected sleep disorders that impact millions of people each year. There is no question: sleep can affect travel and travel can affect sleep.

Travel Tips

  • Get a good night's sleep before travelling - experts recommend between seven and nine hours for adults
  • Drive long trips with a companion who can watch for early warning signs of fatigue; switch drivers; passengers should stay awake to talk to the driver
  • Schedule regular stops approximately every 160kms or two hours
  • Avoid medications - over-the-counter and prescribed - if they are likely to make you drowsy.

Air Travel and Jet Lag

Anyone who has ever flown is likely to have experienced some degree of jet lag. It happens when the body's biological clock is out of sync with local time. The result is that we feel abnormally sleepy during the day or wide awake at night.

In general, the severity of jet lag symptoms is directly related to the number of time zones crossed by a flight. Symptoms can include daytime sleepiness, night time alertness (insomnia), loss of appetite and other gastrointestinal dysfunctions, mood disturbances and difficulty concentrating or focusing.

Tips to Minimise Jet Lag

  • Shift your sleep times in the few days before you travel. Before traveling west, go to bed and wake up one hour later each day; before traveling east, go to bed and wake up one hour earlier each day
  • Regulate your light exposure in the few days before you travel. Before traveling west, seek evening light and avoid morning light. Before traveling east, seek morning light and avoid evening light
  • Regulate your light exposure in your new time zone. If you travelled west, seek morning light and avoid afternoon light. If you travelled east, seek evening light and avoid morning light
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine for around three to six hours before bedtime
  • Avoid heavy exercise close to bedtime
  • Use earplugs and blindfolds to reduce noise and light while sleeping.

Stress and Insomnia


Stress is a leading cause of short term sleeping problems. Common triggers include:

  • School or job related pressures
  • A family or marriage problem
  • A serious illness or death in the family.

Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. However, if short term sleep problems aren't managed properly from the beginning, they can persist.

Without realising it, you may be doing things during the day or night that can work against a good night's sleep - lifestyle stressors. These include drinking alcohol or beverages containing caffeine in the afternoon or evening, exercising close to bedtime, following an irregular morning and night schedule and working or doing other mentally intense activities before or after getting into bed.


Insomnia is an experience of inadequate or poor quality sleep as characterised by one or more of the following sleep complaints:

  • Difficulty initiating sleep
  • Difficulty maintaining sleep
  • Waking too early in the morning.

Short term or acute insomnia is often due to a temporary situation such as stress, jet lag, change or loss job or relationship. It can last up to one month and is treatable. Effective and safe prescription medications can help.

Long term or chronic insomnia is experienced for a month or longer and can be secondary to other causes such as medical, physical or psychological conditions. It is important to get a medical diagnosis.

Treating Insomnia

Fortunately, there are treatment options available for insomnia, ranging from behavioural therapy to the use of prescription medicines, or a combination of the two.

There are some general habits you can adopt that may help you sleep better. Not each of these practices may apply to everyone with insomnia, so you may want to focus on one or two that seem particularly relevant to your situation.

Sleep experts recommend the following tips to help you overcome sleep problems:

  • Establish a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep / wake schedule
  • Don't spend too much time in bed
  • Do not eat or drink too much before bedtime
  • Create a sleep promoting environment that is quiet, dark and comfortable
  • Consume less or no caffeine, particularly late in the day
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime
  • Exercise, but not within three hours before bed
  • Avoid naps, particularly in the late afternoon or evening
  • Keep a ‘sleep diary’ for one week to record sleep and health habits; share this record with your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Shift Workers

While shift work does create potential productivity advantages, it also has some risks. Some of the most serious and persistent problems shift workers face are frequent sleep disturbance and associated excessive sleepiness.

Sleepiness / fatigue in the workplace can lead to poor concentration, absenteeism, accidents, errors, injuries and poor work. The issue becomes more alarming when you consider that shift workers are often employed in the most dangerous of jobs, such as fire-fighting, emergency medical services, law enforcement and security.

Symptoms include:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Disrupted sleep schedules
  • Reduced performance
  • Difficulties with personal relationships
  • Irritability / depressed mood.

Day Time Sleep Tips

  • Keep to the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends
  • Eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment (use eye masks and earplugs)
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol.

Staying Alert Tips

  • Avoid long commutes and extended hours
  • Work with others to help keep you alert
  • Try to be active during breaks (take a walk or play sport)
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage (coffee, tea, colas) to help maintain alertness early in the shift
  • Don't leave the most tedious or boring tasks to the end of your shift when you are apt to feel the drowsiest.
sleep soundly seniors

A good night's sleep means you wake up refreshed, energised and ready to face the day. And because we sleep for around eight hours every night, we spend around one-third of our lives in bed. So it’s important to choose the right bed. A Sealy Posturepedic bed provides you with the perfect balance of support and comfort for the ultimate night's sleep.

Common Sleep Problems

As people age, they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep. However, research shows our sleep needs to remain constant throughout adulthood. Changes in the patterns of our sleep occur as we age and may contribute to sleep problems.

Medical Problems

Increased medical problems come with aging. In general, people with poor health or medical conditions can have more sleep problems. For example:

  • Hypertension is associated with both snoring and sleep apnoea
  • Menopause can lead to restless sleep
  • Reflux can cause difficulty both falling and staying asleep
  • The pain and discomfort of arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain can make it difficult to sleep through the night
  • Medications can sometimes affect sleep.

Healthy Sleep

Healthy sleep on a regular basis keeps you alert during waking hours. There are a number of behavioural modifications you can make to establish healthy sleep. These include:

  • Using your bed and bedroom for sleep only
  • Therapy to help modify attitudes and beliefs that may contribute to poor sleep
  • Relaxation training, which often involves reducing tension and muscular relaxation techniques
  • Restricting time in bed if you spend too much of that time awake.

If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, consider whether an event or particular stress could be the cause. If so, the problem may resolve in time. If not, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

It is helpful to keep a week-long record of your sleep and fatigue levels throughout the day, as well as any other symptoms you might have, and talk to your doctor.

Insomnia and Aging

Insomnia is more common among older adults. It may be chronic (lasting more than one month) or acute (lasting a few days or weeks) and is often related to an underlying cause such as a medical or other condition.

What causes Insomnia?

Insomnia can be a disorder in its own right, but is often a symptom of some other disease or condition. It may be induced by stress from a disturbing occurrence or anticipation of upcoming events. Often it can relate to a medical condition.

Symptoms of Insomnia Include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up frequently
  • Difficulty returning to sleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability.

Best Ways to Treat Insomnia?

It is worthwhile to speak to your doctor about insomnia symptoms and any effects they may have. If insomnia is creating serious effects or making you too tired to function normally during your day time, this would suggest that you should seek help.

When effects are serious and untreated, insomnia can take a toll on your health. People with insomnia can experience excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and increased risk of accidents and illness.

Both behavioural therapies and prescription medications singularly or in combination are considered an effective means of treating insomnia. This should be discussed with your doctor.

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