Everyone has heard the phrase ‘beauty sleep’ and it’s generally agreed that getting enough kip is a good thing, but it’s actually way more important than helping you look good. Getting into a good sleep routine is an extremely effective way to gain control of your own health, stress levels and boost your general wellbeing.

How much sleep do we really need?

This is still a contentious issue and is, of course, entirely subjective as it needs to be taken into account along with myriad factors. However, most scientists and experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours quality sleep every night for adults.

That may seem like a lot for many people, particularly those who have become used to burning the candle at both ends in order to fit in their responsibilities and social life. However, if you subsist on little sleep often or have a very undisciplined sleeping pattern, you could be harming your health in more ways than the obvious.

You may find you genuinely feel ok after just five hours, whereas your partner may need more like eight hours. The important thing is to listen to your body and establish a routine that works for you.

Why is quality sleep important?

Stress levels, financial worries, busy jobs, families, babies, children, relationships problems… with everything life throws at us in 2013 it’s not difficult to see why many people report routinely having trouble sleeping.

Regularly suffering from a lack of good sleep can have a huge effect on your health and can increase the likelihood of depression, raised blood pressure, high stress, lack of concentration, poor work performance, being a danger on the roads and generally feeling below par and under the weather for most of the time.

It can be very difficult to properly interact with others, whether that’s family or work colleagues when you feel like you’re sleepwalking through every day.

What can you do to sleep better?

This is where some discipline comes in. Stick to a few simple rules and you could find yourself benefiting enormously. The most important is, just like with children, establish a workable routine. Choose a bedtime that suits your lifestyle and try and stick to it as closely as possible every night, including weekends.

Similarly, train yourself to wake up naturally (ditch that alarm clock when you eventually get into the right rhythm) as you will therefore be waking up in the proper cycle of sleep, meaning you’ll feel refreshed and ready to face the day. Keep the same wake up time at weekends as well.

Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, cool and dark enough. Don’t have central heating on and invest in good quality bedding. Have a good look at your bed and mattress and work out whether you need to replace it. If you have owned it for more than around five years then the chances are you do. Consider a different kind of mattress and check out the beds at bedstar.co.uk for loads of different options. You may find you’d benefit from a memory foam mattress, for example, which would take the pressure off your joints and allow you to sleep with a straighter spine.

If you sleep with a partner, work out whether you could benefit from different tensile mattresses on the same base, or whether you would both benefit from upping the size of your bed. Having enough space to move around freely without rolling into each other is very important for a sound night’s sleep.

If noises bother you, consider ear plugs and make sure you’re neither too hot nor too cold as both will affect your sleep. Cut down on alcohol and caffeine, particularly from mid afternoon onwards as both will affect your sleep and remove all electronic equipment from your bedroom. Beds should be for two things – sleeping and sex!

If you follow these tips you could find you can revolutionise the quality of your sleep, even if you’ve had problems for years. Stick with it and enjoy the benefits it will bring.