Shout 85258 is a free and confidential text support service that is there for moments when you are struggling to cope and need support to get to a calmer place.
Sleep is fundamental to our mental health and wellbeing. Ensuring that we regularly get enough - and good quality - sleep gives our bodies and minds the opportunity to rest, relax, recover and rejuvenate.
In general, it is recommended that adults over 18 get around 7 hours of sleep a night, with adolescents getting between 8-10 hours.
As simple as that sounds, many of us struggle with sleep challenges including having trouble falling asleep, disrupted sleep and nightmares, as well as problems with sleeping too much.
Sleep is frequently mentioned by people who text Shout for support. Last year, we took 88,000 conversations with children, young people and adults who mentioned the word ‘sleep’. A third of these conversations also mentioned anxiety while around 40% talked about suicide.
So far in 2021, around 1 in 3 people who have texted Shout have done so late at night and into the early hours of the morning, between 10pm-4am, revealing a further link between mental health concerns and sleep challenges.
If you’re struggling with sleep, here are some useful steps to help you settle into a pattern of regular, deep, restorative sleep through developing healthy sleep habits and creating a conducive environment for sleep.
Tips to improve your sleep habits
- Stop and think about your sleep. Have a conversation with a friend or family member where you both talk about your routine and the quality of your sleep. Even if you’re not obviously struggling, doing a sleep ‘audit’ is part of looking after your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
- Stick to regular sleep and wake times. Go to bed at more or less the same time each night and get up at around the same time every morning, even on the weekend. This can help you start to develop a regular sleep cycle that your mind and body can rely on and relax into.
- Get some exercise and eat well. Taking some exercise each day, as well as eating well and regularly throughout the day, can help to improve your sleep. It is recommended that you don’t drink alcohol 3 hours before going to bed or caffeine 10 hours before going to bed.
- Get enough natural light. This is particularly important for individuals who may not go outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain good sleep.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognise that it is bedtime. This could include taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book, or listening to a podcast.
- Avoid screen time before bed. Try to leave electronic devices like TVs, laptops and mobiles outside of your bedroom or at least switched off before bed.
- Create a conducive sleep environment. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable cool temperature and make sure it’s dark and quiet.
- Be aware of your thoughts and emotions. Consciously catch and clear your thoughts, relax your body and focus on your breathing. You can try our breathing exercises and grounding techniques.
- Make a list before your bedtime if you have a lot on your mind. It’s like clearing your head. Similarly, if you find yourself thinking about your ‘to do’ list while trying to fall asleep, get up, make that list and head back to bed.
If you are struggling with sleep or are feeling worried, overwhelmed or low, our volunteers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and support you. Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 to start a conversation.
If your challenges with sleep are starting to affect your mental and physical health and wellbeing, seek advice and support from a health professional.