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Better Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep allows our bodies and minds to rest, repair and re-energise. Not sleeping well can cause a range of problems, including poor concentration, low mood, irritability, and a weakened immune system. In the longer term, trouble sleeping can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, stress and depression.

Sleep: like eating, drinking and breathing, it’s something that everyone does and something that many people take for granted. However, like all these activities, it is also essential to our physical and mental health.

SleepIf you are suffering from lack of sleep, what can you do about it? Often the solution lies in our own hands and requires some simple changes to our sleep environment and lifestyles, though it might take a few weeks to get into the habit of new sleeping pattern.

The Sleep Council recommend these steps to getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better.
  • Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep, so it should be neither too hot nor too cold, and as quiet and dark as possible.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old.
  • Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. For some ideas of the types of exercise you could do, click here.
  • Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee – especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
  • Don’t over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.
  • Don’t smoke. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and often experience more sleep disruption. For more advice on stopping smoking click here.
  • Try to relax before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, or maybe do some yoga. You might find a relaxation tape helpful as well. For more ideas on how to relax click here.
  • Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to deal with the next day.
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.

For more information on the Sleep Council click here.

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The Mental Health Foundation have recently launched a new How Did you Sleep Last Night? webpage, which contains information, links and guides to how to get a better night’s sleep.  They have produced a small pocket guide on sleep which you can download by clicking here. They also have a downloadable sleep diary which will enable you to keep track of your sleeping habits. You can access this by clicking here.

If you want to listen to something to help you sleep, the Mental Health Foundation have a downloadable MP3 for Sleep Relaxation presented by Professor Colin Espie, the Director of the University of Glasgow’s Sleep Centre. You can access this free MP3 by clicking here.

The BBC website also enables you to build your own personal sleep profile as well as giving handy tips and advice to getting better sleep. For more information click here.

If sleeping really becomes a problem go to your GP for advice and help.

If you have a suggestion as to how to get better sleep or if any of the above suggestions have worked for you, let us know by clicking here.

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