Sleep gives our bodies chance to rest, our synapses a chance to sizzle and in theory, our brains some down time.

There are, however, many distractions. You may have half an ear open for your child’s cry, mulling over an exciting new project, planning a long awaited vacation or have pain that stops you sleeping. Partners, too, can be a distraction, snoring, stealing the covers or just being restless themselves.

Even if you can’t sleep, just lie in bed and rest. And most important: make sure you are comfortable. Here are some simple ideas to help.

  • Try a pillow between your knees to help your hips stay aligned if you are a side sleeper. Back sleepers might like one beneath their thighs to ease pressure on the lower back.
  • A soft mattress is great for fairy tales, but gives your spine little support.
  • Unless you need high pillows to alleviate breathing difficulties, try to sleep with your head on a lower pillow to avoid pushing your neck forward.
  • Don’t watch anything too stimulating on television prior to bed.
  • Avoid heavy meals late at night.
  • Try to avoid constrictive clothing.
  • My favorite: have a warm lavender bath. Sweet dreams.

— Karen Elysbeth Walsh is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in ergonomics and pain management,