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Maintaining Sleep Hygiene To Ease Insomnia

Do you find it difficult to sleep at times? Well, you’re not alone.

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As many as one in three of us struggle to sleep at any given time;

and although it’s not uncommon, a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health.

Sleep is a restorative state that allows the body and mind to heal and is therefore an important part of a routine that keeps us functioning and thinking clearly. However, with our busy lives and everyday pressures – particularly when unusual work or home events are pressing – it is common to have periods where sleep is more elusive than it could be.

People managing mental illness will often see an impact on their sleep; and the results of not sleeping properly can, in turn, impact on our mental health. It’s a cycle that can be broken with a few simple steps, and by paying attention to our Sleep Hygiene. But first we need to look at what might be hindering our sleep.

Common Reasons For Sleep Problems

  • Stress or worry about finances, study/work or home life

  • Too much caffeine, alcohol or drugs

  • Physical or mental health struggles

  • A change in routine or shift work

  • Problems within your bedroom such as noise, temperature or comfort

  • Health conditions relating to sleep, also known as sleep disorders

  • Unmanaged current or past trauma

  • A lack of physical exercise

  • Worry over unresolved situations

Although not an exhaustive list, you may recognise some of these as the reasons that leave you exhausted and listless. Fear not, with better Sleep Hygiene we can get those restorative hours back. But what about mental health problems that can impact on sleep?

Mental Health Problems That Can Affect Your Sleep

  • Anxiety can result in overthinking, worry and catastrophising; making it hard to sleep.

  • Depression can make us oversleep or day sleep and/or cause insomnia with troubling thoughts.

  • Mania can make you feel elated or energetic so you might not feel tired or have racing thoughts making it hard to sleep.

  • PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder can cause night terrors and horrible dreams that wake you up or make you worry about even going to sleep.

Things to Try

Try a digital detox at night. Turn your phone off 2 hours before bedtime through to the morning to avoid reaching for it in the night. Taking the temptation away helps.

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoons. Maybe set a time for that last tea or coffee at 2pm.

  • Reduce alcohol intake or try not drinking at all until your sleep patterns return

  • Try to keep the bedroom just for sleep or sex and other activities in other rooms

  • Set yourself a target of some physical activity every day. We sleep better when tired.

  • Try playing nature sounds, meditation playlists or music such as Max Richter’s Sleep album

  • Simple changes such as ear plugs for noise, a fan if hot or sleep mask if light

  • Herbal remedies such as valerian taken internally or lavender oil in the room

  • Create a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible

  • Avoid napping too much during the day until your sleeping patterns are back

  • Keep a pad and pen by the bed to jot down things on your mind. This helps ‘empty your head’ of persistent thoughts, knowing you won’t forget to attend to them the next day.

  • Use the free tools on https://www.poetsin.com/resources/ such as the worry diary, journaling, mindfulness and wellbeing exercises for wellbeing

  • Try to stop focusing on having to get a full 8 hours sleep a night. We don’t all need 8 hours.

We are all different, so these and many more good habits can help us get back into better Sleep Hygiene. If your sleeping problems persist over an extended period after trying any of the above and more, then do contact your doctor as they may be able to supply a short term solution.

And finally…

PoetsIN have a range of resources available for free. They’re easy to download and will help with all things mental wellbeing. It is as important to invest time in our mental health as well as our physical health. Visit: poetsin.com/resources to get your copies.

Author: Paul Chambers, PoetsIN

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