Issues with sleep are nothing new, however, experts suggest that the pandemic has caused negative effects on our sleep. Sleep plays a vital part in our mental and physical wellbeing. Although opinions vary as to how much sleep we actually need, we can all recognise the difference when we have had enough sleep to feel refreshed, recharged and ready for the day ahead.
When it comes to managing our mental health, poor sleep can affect our ability to think clearly, manage our emotions and it can increase anxiety and worry. Here are some tried and tested top tips from Bath Mind’s Chair of Trustees, Pip Galland, on healthy sleeping habits:
Movement is great way of releasing anxiety and stress. It helps to relax the mind and in turn aids sleep. Research has shown that the optimum time to move is at lunchtime/late afternoon if you’re looking to improve your sleeping pattern. There are a huge variety of ways to move your body – some great things to try are walks, running, or yoga. Try to avoid exercise within 4 hours of your bedtime, as it can have the opposite effect.
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at some of the free movement resources on our physical wellbeing page!
Maintaining a balanced diet can be really valuable when it comes to good sleeping habits. The timing of when you eat your last meal of the day is particularly important – try to avoid large meals within an hour of bedtime, or missing a meal and going to bed hungry.
3. Keep your routine the same
One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the same time each day. It’s also important to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned if you’ve had a bad night sleep. Avoiding activities because you feel tired can lead to lethargy and insomnia.
4. Preparatory sleep steps
Don’t underestimate the power of “preparatory sleep steps”, or the steps you take to remind your body that it’s time to sleep. Some people use breathing exercises, meditation or herbal tea to get their bodies relaxed and ready for bed, whilst others enjoy a hot shower or bath. Having a hot shower or bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy when your body temperature drops.
5. Try to avoid clock watching
Frequently checking the time or your phone during the night isn’t conducive to good sleep. It can lead to negative thoughts about the fact that you’re still awake and how this might affect your ability to cope the next day. Not all thoughts are accurate, or helpful. In these circumstances it’s important to ground yourself, focus on your surroundings, the fact that you’re comfortable – and that you’re more than likely overestimating the worst case scenario and underestimating your ability to cope with it tomorrow.
If you are experiencing difficulties with your sleep, or if you would like to discuss your wellbeing, you can reach out to us in confidence – our details can be found here.