word cloud of different coloured words relating to support and guidance

Sleep problems

Do you struggle to get to sleep? Do you wake up frequently in the night?

Sleep is an essential part of our lives; it is restorative both physically and psychologically. People can become very stressed and worried when they feel they are not getting enough sleep.The amount of sleep people need vary from person to person with some only needing four hours per night, and others up to ten hours. On average people feel they need between 7-8 hours’ sleep per night. You may be getting sufficient sleep, it is just less than you think you need.

What affects sleep?

There are a number of contributory factors to not sleeping including:

  • Worrying about things
  • Emotional upset of loss or bereavement
  • Feeling low or depressed
  • A medical problem or medication you are taking
  • The environment you are sleeping in or disrupted sleep patterns such as working shifts

Ascertaining why you are not sleeping can be difficult; keeping a sleep diary can help you to track your sleep, and the possible reasons for it. Engaging in self-care is important.

How to overcome sleep problems

Are there changes you can make to your bedroom environment?

Can you adjust the temperature and light? Are your bed/pillows too uncomfortable? Remember, distractions such as a phone or tablet next to your bed or using your bed for studying or watching TV can be unhelpful.

Try to establish a routine

Keep to daytime routines, even if you are tired after a poor night’s sleep. Go to bed at the same time each night and try to get up at the same time each day. Try not to sleep in too much at weekends and if you need to nap, limit it to 20 mins. Try exercising during the day rather than late at night.

Have a relaxing bedtime pattern before bed

Try to get into a relaxing pattern an hour or so before going to bed to wind down, maybe have a bath, a warm milk drink, listen to music, try some relaxation or meditation. Avoid the use of gadgets and electronics immediately before bedtime. Reduce your caffeine and nicotine intake in the evening and avoid alcohol late at night.

Try not to worry about not sleeping

Tell yourself that worrying about it will not help, that not getting enough sleep is not going to harm you, and that you may be getting sufficient sleep, it is just less than you think you need. Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed and write down thoughts or to-do lists if they are keeping you awake, then tell yourself you will deal with it tomorrow. If you are struggling to fall asleep, try some breathing techniques. If you start to feel frustrated, get up and engage in some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.

Check your Medication

Some Medicines are stimulants so can affect sleep patterns. Speak to your GP about your medication and how that might be affecting your sleep.

Learn more

There are lots of sources of support and inspiration for sleep out there, check out these we have hand picked:

Apps/Podcasts about sleep

External Resources and Organisations

Access support

Speak to your GP; if you do not currently have a GP then you can find a GP on the NHS website.

*If you need support specific to the current COVID-19 health crisis, please visit student support.