Insomnia and Sleep Problems

There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That’s a horrible place to be.

General guidance to help with insomnia

Simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to your quality of sleep.

Keep regular sleep hours

Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better. Choose a time when you’re likely to feel tired and sleepy.

Create a restful sleeping environment

Your bedroom should be a peaceful place for rest and sleep. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that your bedroom environment helps you to fall (and stay) asleep.

If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often disturbs you in the night.

Make sure your bed is comfortable

It’s difficult to get restful sleep on a mattress that’s too soft or too hard, or a bed that’s too small or old.

Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming or walking, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. But make sure you do not do vigorous exercise, such as running or the gym, too close to bedtime, as it may keep you awake..

Cut down on caffeine

Cut down on caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks or colas, especially in the evening. Caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep, and also prevents deep sleep. Instead, have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea.

Do not over-indulge

Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.

Do not smoke

Nicotine is a stimulant. People who smoke take longer to fall asleep, wake up more frequently, and often have more disrupted sleep.

Try to relax before going to bed

Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax your mind and body. Your GP may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.

Write away your worries

If you tend to lie in bed thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow, set aside time before bedtime to make plans for the next day. The aim is to avoid doing these things when you’re in bed, trying to sleep.

If you cannot sleep, get up

If you cannot sleep, do not lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed.

Make an appointment to see your GP if lack of sleep is persistent and it’s affecting your daily life.

 

Further links and resources for insomnia

NHS Sleep Self Assessment Tool

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insomnia/

A NHS guide for insomnia

https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/sleep/

Mind Guidance Document for insomnia

 https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/5827/sleep-problems-2020.pdf

The Sleep Charity Support and Information

Information and support from The Sleep Charity which campaigns to improve sleep by providing support and access to high quality information – https://thesleepcharity.org.uk/

Rethink: Sleep Problems: Causes and Solutions

Information from the mental health charity Rethink on how problems with sleep can affect how you feel physically and mentally. Information on the causes of insomnia and help with solutions 

https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/wellbeing-physical-health/how-can-i-improve-my-sleep/