According to MIND, 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.
What problems might I have with sleep?
Everyone needs sleep, but many of us have problems with it. You might recognise some of the experiences listed below, or have other difficulties with sleep that aren't mentioned here.
- find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you'd like to (also known as insomnia – find out more on the NHS website)
- have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or psychosis
- find it hard to wake up or get out of bed
- often feel tired or sleepy – this could be because you're not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
- sleep a lot – which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake.
If you're having problems sleeping, you might:
- be more likely to feel anxious, depressed or suicidal
- be more likely to have psychotic episodes – poor sleep can trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia, or make existing symptoms worse
- feel lonely or isolated – for example, if you don't have the energy to see people or they don't seem to understand
- struggle to concentrate, or make plans and decisions
- feel irritable or not have energy to do things
- have problems with day to day life – for example, at work or with family and friends
- be more affected by other health problems, including mental health problems.
Tips from MIND to get a better night's sleep
Try to establish a routine
It could help to establish a regular sleeping routine or habits. You might need to try different things before you find what works for you.
You could try going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day. Or it might help to go to bed only once you feel ready to sleep, but still get up around the same time.
Relax before you try to sleep
Find a relaxation routine - some people try mindfulness, or breathing exercises, or you can do something calming such as having a relaxing bath.
Fill in a sleep diary
A sleep diary involves recording information about your sleep habits to help you understand your sleep problem and what's affecting it. Find out more on the MIND website.
Make your sleeping area more comfortable
- Try different temperature, light and noise levels to see what works for you.
- Lots of people find dark, quiet and cool environments best, but everyone is different.
- If you can't sleep in darkness, try keeping a light or bedside lamp switched on.
- If silence makes it harder to sleep, listen to music, nature sounds, a podcast or the radio.
- You might find it helpful to try different bedding – for example, a warmer or cooler duvet, or a different pillow.
- If you're affected by issues with a partner – for example, snoring or problems sharing a bed - the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association has information on its website and a helpline.
Think about screens and device settings
Using screens in the evening, including on tablets and mobile phones, can negatively affect your sleep.
It can help to think about when and how you use screens. For example, you could try:
- avoiding screens an hour or two before bed
- cutting down on screen time before you try to sleep
- avoiding stimulating activities, such as playing games
- using a blue light filter, night mode or dark mode – you might be able to find these options in your device settings and in individual app settings
- adjusting other settings – for example, changing the brightness, or using silent, flight or airplane, or do not disturb mode
Look after yourself
Looking after yourself physically can help improve your sleep. Think about your diet, spend time outside, try to do some physical activity.
Find support for connected issues
If you're experiencing other issues alongside sleep problems, such as money worries, getting support for these things can help with your sleep problems too. Remember you can contact the Employee Advice Programme for advice and support.
There is lots of information available to help you online and via the My Healthy Advantage app.