Mental Health and Wellbeing – Sleep
Sleep makes a big difference to how we feel. Sleeping well makes us feel better and is good for our mental health.
Poor quality sleep can affect our mood, energy, concentration levels, decision making, short term memory, our relationships and our ability to function well and cope with day-to-day challenges.
A good nights sleep can:
- Help our bodies recover from the day and allow healing to take place
- Improve our mood and make us less irritable
- Reduce stress, depression and anxiety
- Reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Help with concentration and managing tasks
The amount of sleep we need is different for everyone and can change as we get older but we can all benefit from sleeping better.
There can be many reasons why we find it difficult to sleep well, especially with everything that is going on in the world at the moment when many of us are finding getting to sleep or staying asleep more difficult.
Sleep problems are common and often sort themselves out but if we have trouble sleeping for longer periods of time it can start to affect our lives. For many of us, it may simply be a case of making small changes to help us sleep better.
Have a good daily routine
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day can help train our brain to sleep better.
Create a restful environment
- A cool, dark and quiet environment and keeping the room well ventilated can create a restful environment.
- Keep gadgets and electronics in the bedroom to minimum, the light they give off can disrupt your sleep.
- Avoiding using devices before going bed can help you sleep better.
- Earplugs, eye masks, putting your phone on silent and face down (or out of the room) and keeping clocks out of view can all help.
Help your body get ready for sleep
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, it can stop you falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Alcohol, can make you more likely to wake in the night. It can also make you dehydrated.
- Avoid napping in the day as it can affect your sleep at night. Fresh air, walking around or doing something to stimulate your brain can help.
- Moving more and keeping physically active during the day can help you sleep better.
Relax and do something calming
- Have a bath, read a book or listen to relaxing music.
- Cheshire West and Chester Library provide free resources including reading and audio books.
Try relaxation techniques:
- Breathing exercises – get yourself comfortable and then breathe into your belly (not your chest) then out through your nose, making your out-breath longer than your in-breath; repeat until you feel relaxed.
- Progressive Muscle relaxation – consciously tense and relax your muscles, one after the other, starting with your toes and working up your body until you reach the top of your head. Find out more at: NHS guide to progressive relaxation.
- Try Visualisation (picturing a scene or landscape that has pleasant memories for you) Meditation or Mindfulness (being in the moment) can help.
- Relaxation Techniques.
Finally, don’t Lie awake worrying if you can’t sleep
- If you are lying awake unable to sleep, don’t worry about it, do something relaxing like reading or listening to music for a short while until you feel sleepier
- If you are worrying about other things writing your worries down can help put your mind at rest.
If you find the changes you have made have not helped and not sleeping is affecting your daily life and making it harder to cope with, it is important to getting advice and support. Talking to your GP can help as sleep problems can also be a sign of underlying health issues.
- Mental Health Foundation – How to sleep better guide or podcasts on relaxation and sleep and green space.
- NHS Every Mind Matters: Sleep
- OneYou: Simple steps to help adults take control of their health
- MIND – For more top tips, information to include in a sleep diary, other people’s stories and experiences
- NHS Every Mind Matters
- NHS – top tips to improve your mental wellbeing
- Cheshire West and Chester Library – Free online health and wellbeing resources
Further information, support and services are also available on the Live Well Cheshire West website.
What to do if you need urgent mental health help and support
- CWP Helpline: 0300 303 3972
- Visit: Kind to your Mind