How are you sleeping?

The importance of sleep for our mental health

On average, we spent around a third of our lives sleeping. When we sleep, our brains process and store new information and our bodies repair cells. These processes all support our mental and physical health. A lack of sleep can affect our overall wellbeing.

There is lots we can try to help improve our sleep

Look after yourself

How we look after ourselves during the day can also affect how we sleep. Try to avoid big meals before bedtime. Avoid caffeine for several hours before bed. Getting outside and taking in fresh air during the day can be beneficial to our sleep.

 

Keep a sleep routine

Going to bed and waking around the same time each day or going to bed when you feel ready to sleep, and waking up at the same time every day can help establish a sleep routine.

If you’ve had a bad night of sleep, avoiding activities because you feel tired may make sleeping that night more difficult.

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Preparing your sleeping area

Experiment with different things such as temperature, light, noise and bedding. Many sleep better in a slightly cooler environment. If your environment is light, you may find wearing a sleep mask helps. Most find they sleep better in quiet environments, but if you don’t, try listening to music or a podcast. If your environment is noisy, you may find wearing ear plugs helps. You may sleep better with lighter or heavier weight covers; warmer or cooler bedding.

Try to avoid clock watching

If you are finding it hard to fall asleep, try to avoid checking the time. If you can’t fall asleep, try getting up and doing a ‘mundane’ task for a few minutes, then go back to bed. Worrying about the fact that you are not able to sleep can make it harder to sleep. If you’re struggling to sleep, do something to relax yourself rather than focussing on negative thoughts. Focussing on your breath can help bring you back to the present moment and calm your mind.

 

On waking in the morning, try to look at natural daylight before looking at screens - this can help your circadian rhythms and your body’s natural ‘sleep-wake cycle.’

 

When to seek help

If you are finding it difficult to sleep long term, talk to your GP.