If you’re having sleep problems, there are simple steps you can take to ease those restless nights. Find out how to get to sleep and how to sleep better.
We also have expert advice and tips to help look after your mental health and wellbeing if you are worried or anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19).
Understanding sleep problems
We all have evenings when we find it hard to fall asleep or find ourselves waking up in the night. How we sleep and how much sleep we need is different for all of us and changes as we get older.
Sleep problems usually sort themselves out within about a month. But longer stretches of bad sleep can start to affect our lives.
It can cause extreme tiredness and make usually manageable tasks harder. If you regularly have problems sleeping, you may be experiencing insomnia. Insomnia can last for months or even years, but usually improves if you change your sleeping habits.
Sleep problems are common, and the tips on this page should help. But if they have not worked, or you have had trouble sleeping for months and it affects your daily life in a way that makes it hard to cope, you could benefit from further support.
Top tips to get to sleep and sleep better
Click here to read Every mind matters top tips
Here are 5 tips to help you sleep better
- Establish a new routine – You may have been furloughed or be working from home for the first time. Routine is very important for the body right now. This will be the starting block for engaging with your natural circadian rhythm – not the one your job normally sets. Start by focusing on your sleep-wake cycle, go to bed when you feel tired and try to wake up without an alarm. You may sleep a little more than normal at the beginning, but within a week or two you will return to your natural duration. Though everyone is different, you should aim for 7-9 hours a night. Not only is routine good for our sleep cycle, it’s also beneficial to our mental health.
- Don’t use your bedroom as your office (if possible) – When it’s time for bed, remove electronic devices and make the room cool, dark and quiet. It’s important to associate your bedroom as the place you go to sleep, not the place you work or watch TV. This will help you to relax and prepare for sleep. Electronic devices also emit artificial light that can influence our sleep cycle. Artificial light can trick your circadian clock into thinking daylight has been extended and alter our quality of sleep. If you need electronic devices nearby, place them in night mode.
- Avoid napping – As you try to establish your new routine, it’s important to engage with your natural circadian rhythm – and napping could potentially disrupt this at the beginning. However, if your previous night’s sleep was poor you may feel more tired after lunch. Short naps – less than 20 minutes – can help to restore cognitive function and may make you feel less sleepy.
- Only drink caffeine before noon – We all respond a little differently to caffeine. Because caffeine is a known stimulant, it could influence our sleep by keeping us awake later. So when trying to fix your sleep pattern, it may be best to limit caffeine intake to earlier in your day.
- Exercise – Both aerobic and resistance exercise has been shown to have positive effects on sleep. However, timing is important. It’s best to avoid vigorous exercise one hour before bedtime as this may reduce our sleep duration, quality and make it more difficult to fall asleep in the first place.
Take the quiz – Get Your Mind Plan
Answer 5 quick questions to get your free plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control. Click here
Watch the Video: What you can do for sleep problems
“It really helps if you’re on a wind-down curve some while before you go to bed.” By Professor Colin Espie, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford. Click here
Signs of sleep problems
- find it difficult to fall asleep
- lie awake for long periods at night
- wake up several times during the night
- wake up early and be unable to get back to sleep
- feel down or have a lower mood
- have difficulty concentrating
- be more irritable than usual
- feel like you have not slept well when you wake up in the morning
- Long-term sleep problems can lead you to:
- feel your relationships are suffering
- struggle to maintain a social life
- have a hard time doing everyday tasks
- feel hungrier and snack more
- feel tired during the day
Possible causes of sleep problems
There are many reasons why you might not be able to sleep well.
Some people are naturally lighter sleepers or take longer to drop off, while some life circumstances might make it more likely for your sleep to be interrupted, like stressful events or having a new baby.
There are lots of things that can influence our mental health, such as our upbringing, childhood environment, things that happen to us and even our temperament. Learn more about what affects our mental health and what support is available for life’s challenges.
Poor mental health can cause sleep problems to read more about this please click here
Support for sleep problems
There is lots of support for problems with sleep click here to read more about the different ways that are on offer.