Many people have problems with sleeping. However, being a common problem does not make it any easier to cope with and issues with sleep can have a huge impact on daily life. There are steps that you can take to improve the quality of your sleep and below we have detailed some good sources of help. However, if despite taking action yourself, you continue to have problems with sleep, you might need more help. If so, a good place to start will be your GP.
One of the most common issues people can have is Insomnia when you have difficulty falling asleep and / or periods of wakefulness. After taking advice on improving sleep, Jane said:
I used to spend night after night lying awake, worrying about lots of things and worrying how I would cope the next day with such little sleep. I now make sure that I relax for at least an hour before bed. I also write a ‘to do’ list so I don’t worry about all the things I need to get done the next day. If I can’t sleep, I get up and listen to music or read a magazine until I feel ready to try again. Most of all, I don’t worry if I have the odd bad night as I know that it won’t last forever.
As Jane found, there are ways that we can improve our own sleep patterns. As well as regulating the time you spend in bed, the advice includes looking at your bed time routine and trying to relax in the hour or so before bed-time, avoiding strenuous exercise, a heavy meal or screen activity (TV or computer) as you wind down for sleep.
Treatments include: talking treatments which might be Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, looking at changing behaviour to improve sleep or other types of Counselling to explore underlying causes; medication – medication can be helpful but it is recommended that medication is taken on a one off basis to help break a cycle of sleeplessness over a night or two or; sleep clinics where sleep problems are assessed and, if needed, further treatments recommended.
Dr Chris Williams explains what you can do to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep. This podcast is one of an eight-part series for Moodzone.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have a leaflet called Sleeping Well which covers common problems with sleep as well as some more unusual ones. It is includes tips to encourage good sleeping such as trying to go to bed and get up at the same time whenever you can.