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Is coronavirus keeping you awake? How to improve your sleep

woman in bed how to improve your sleep

At this time of increased stress and anxiety, sleep is more important than ever. In fact, too little sleep can affect our immunity and can leave us feeling more anxious and irritable.

By taking small steps to improve your sleep, you can improve your health and wellbeing and feel better, both physically and mentally.

Sleep is important as it allows the body to replenish and repair itself. In fact, a good night’s sleep is linked to better concentration, good decision-making and generally feeling happier.

How much sleep do we need?

There is no perfect amount of sleep as it varies from person to person. Most adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Another good gauge is how you feel when you wake up in the morning – if you wake up feeling alert and energised, chances are you had enough sleep. If you don’t wake up feeling like this, you may need to improve your sleep.

The hours in which we go to sleep can also make a difference. For example, trying to get some shut eye before midnight is thought to be more beneficial than the hours after midnight.

Tips to improve your sleep

If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest, try following these simple tips to improve your sleep...

Switch off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed

This is because artificial light from screens can affect melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. Avoid watching TV or using mobile devices in the bedroom. It can help to charge your phone away from your bedside. At the very least, turn your phone face down (no-one needs Facebook updates at 4am!).

Avoid large meals before bedtime

Too much food before bed can affect our ability to sleep well. If you’re hungry, a small snack before bed is okay. Stick to healthy snacks that are low in fat.

Monitor fluid intake before bed

Be aware of how much liquid you are drinking before you go to bed. Too much may result in needing toilet breaks in the early hours.

Avoid caffeine after 2pm

Caffeine is a stimulant (i.e. it keeps us awake) and can still be working in our body hours after we’ve had it. Coffee, tea, energy and cola drinks all contain caffeine. To improve your sleep, it’s best to avoid drinking them after lunchtime.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol might make you feel more sleepy but it actually negatively affects the quality of the sleep you get.

Move more

Exercise can help to normalise your body clock. Some gentle stretching before bed can help with sleep. However, avoid strenuous exercise in the evenings as this can wake you up.

Stick to a routine

Try to go to bed at the same time each day and wake up at the same time each morning. Once you wake up, resist the urge to hit the snooze button. Instead, put your feet on the floor – movement helps the waking process.

Invest in some earplugs

Help to minimise sounds by wearing earplugs at night. Noise can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

The darker the better

Our ability to sleep is affected by light - as it gets darker, melatonin is produced and makes us sleepy. To help with this, block out any sources of light in your bedroom or use an eye mask to improve your sleep.

Have a bedtime ritual

This may help to signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Unwind with a good book, take a bath or listen to some calming music.

Try writing

Before bed, try writing down your thoughts, worries, or your ‘to-do’ list – this helps to clear the mind and prepare the body to relax and sleep.

Still struggling to improve your sleep and get a good night’s rest? Call our friendly Advice Line nurses to get support and talk through any worries which may be keeping you awake. You can reach the team by calling 0808 801 0899 or emailing adviceline@chss.org.uk. For more information, please visit: www.chss.org.uk/advice-line-nurses