Why is sleep important?
Sleep is important because it affects our physical and emotional wellbeing. Sleeping well means that we usually feel happier and more able to deal with life’s issues. It helps us to function better during the day.
Insomnia is a common problem affecting about 10% of people. If you have experienced difficulties getting to or staying asleep multiple times a week for three or more months, you might have insomnia and should seek support from your GP.
What can I do to sleep well?
To sleep well, it can help to:
- Have a regular time to go to bed and wake up. Try to stick to a similar bedtime routine to help prepare your body and mind for sleep.
- Have a comfortable and relaxing sleeping space.
- Be physically active during the day.
- Taking time to relax before bed. This might be taking a shower or reading a book.
- Don’t drink much alcohol.
- Avoid having a smartphone by your bed.
- Try not to drink tea or coffee after mid-afternoon.
- Try not to eat a large meal late in the evening as some foods can affect your sleep.
- Avoid sugary foods close to bedtime.
- Keeping a notebook by the side of your bed can be helpful if you find you can’t switch off your thoughts before sleep.
The above tips can help, but you might still find it hard to get to sleep or stay asleep. Recent studies suggest sleep difficulties can happen when you feel you are dwelling on particular thoughts, or your thoughts are racing and you struggle to 'turn them off'. Activities like mindful breathing exercises can help in this situation.
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If you are trying all of the above and still have difficulty sleeping, or think you might be experiencing insomnia, talk to your GP for further support.