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.
Here are some tips and ideas to help you get good sleep. You might need to try a few different things before you find what works for you:
1. Establish a routine
- Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep. Then get up at your usual time. This may mean you will spend less time actually in bed, but more of the time in bed asleep.
2. Relax before you go to bed
- Do something calming such as listening to relaxing music, or having a bath.
- Try some breathing exercises – in a comfortable position, try this: 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.
- 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;
3. Make sure where you sleep is comfortable
- Experiment with the temperature, light and noise levels to work out what works best for you. On the whole, dark, quiet and cool environments generally make it easier to sleep.
4. Keep a sleep diary
- You may find it difficult to work out what’s affecting your sleep. A sleep diary involves recording information about your sleep habits to help you understand your sleep problem and what’s affecting it. If you want to, you can show it to professionals you’re working with, so you can work together to understand the problem you’re having.
5.Try to reduce stress or worries before bed
- Try to identify anything in your life that’s causing you stress or worry that might be affecting your sleep. You may find it helpful to talk to a friend about the thoughts and feelings that affect your sleep, or write them down before you settle into bed.
- Once you’ve identified what’s causing your sleep problem, there may be practical measures you can take to address the problem – such as finding ways to manage anxiety or talking to your employer about reducing your workload.
6. Give yourself some tech-free time
- Use of bright screens on laptops and phones in the evening has been shown to negatively affect sleep.
- Try to give yourself some tech-free time an hour or so before bed, to help yourself prepare for sleep.
7. Food, drink and exercise
- Caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods may help short-term help but they can all disturb your sleep so try and avoid these before bed.
- Doing regular physical activity can also help you sleep, as it makes you more physically tired. This doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise – any activity, for example housework, gardening or going for a walk, can help.