Many of us will have experienced a bad night’s sleep at some point and will feel the effects the following day. However, if poor or disrupted sleep continues over prolonged periods it can negatively impact our lives in many ways.
Read our top tips for improving your sleep.
Sleep plays an essential part in maintaining good mental and physical health, so ensuring we get a good night’s sleep is vital for our overall wellbeing.
Impact of poor sleep
Many of us will have experienced a bad night’s sleep at some point in our lives and will be well-aware of the impact the following day – tiredness, low mood and increased levels of irritability are common.
However, if poor or disrupted sleep continues over prolonged periods it can negatively impact our lives in many different ways. It can affect our body, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease; it can also make it harder for us to concentrate which can have the potential to cause accidents at work or whilst driving, for example. It can also increase feelings of low mood and a lack of motivation.
Top tips for getting to sleep and sleeping better
- Keep active: regular exercise is good for lifting mood as gives you more energy and also helps to improve sleep. If you are tired, it can feel counter-intuitive to do some exercise but it is proven to improve the quality of your sleep. Try to avoid vigorous exercise before bedtime.
- Regular hours of sleep: if possible, try and sleep and wake up at similar times each day as your body and mind will become used to the routine. If you are a shift worker, try not to nap in between shift patterns on a regular basis.
- Create a restful environment: dark, quiet and cool rooms provide the best environment for quality sleep. Black-out blinds or curtains will help block out natural light but often people find an eye-mask just as effective.
- Cut down on caffeine and alcohol: reducing the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume can help improve the quality and length of sleep. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
- Eat earlier in the evening: try and eat at least two hours before bedtime. Eating late into the evening can confuse the internal body clock and trick it into thinking it is an active part of the day, reducing your chances of falling asleep quickly and maintaining a restful night’s sleep.
- Relax before bedtime: try having a warm bath, reading a book or doing some yoga exercises to release any tension in your muscles and relax your mind.
- Release worrisome thoughts: lying awake at night worrying about any number of things will exacerbate feelings of stress and it will take longer to fall asleep. Keeping a notepad and pen next to your bed to note down negative thoughts and worries can help put your mind at rest.
If you are worried about not getting enough sleep, speak to your occupational health advisor or GP who will be able to provide advice and resources to help.
Sources: NHS (2021); Happiful (2020); Sleepcycle (2020)