Sleep Matters

Sleep Matters

12 March 2024

Do you struggle to fall asleep, lie awake in the wee small hours with a racing mind and always wake up tired? If so, you are not alone. Many of us go through periods of poor sleep which may impact on our day to day lives, with a potential impact on our mental wellbeing.  

Do seek out solutions if you struggle to get enough sleep on an ongoing basis. It is something that should be taken seriously. Poor sleep can lead to worry and stress and that in turn keeps you awake at night. Tiredness may mean you struggle with daily life and over time can result in low self-esteem. Lack of sleep can also make you physically unwell ­– insomnia has been linked to reduced immunity, heart disease, diabetes, premature ageing and even road accidents.

A sleep problem can present itself in a variety of different ways. For example, you might:

  • find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up in the early hours of the morning.
  • have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, or nightmares
  • find it hard to wake up or get out of bed in the morning
  • often feel tired or sleepy because you’re not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
  • sleep a lot – which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake.

It is not uncommon to have nights when it’s hard to fall asleep or wake up several times during the night. Thankfully, most sleep problems usually sort themselves out within a month. There are many self-help techniques that can be used to get you back to a more normal sleeping pattern (see below). However, if you are still struggling with sleep and it is affecting your day-to-day life, it’s a good idea to see a GP for a health check-up.

Here are some practical tips for enjoying a full night’s sleep:

  • Create a relaxing evening routine so that your brain knows that when you get into bed it’s time to sleep
  • Aim to go to bed at the same time every night and set an alarm for the same time each morning, including at weekends
  • Make your bedroom a calm cosy sanctuary, free from the distractions of a TV or computer screen. It should be dark, cool and quiet
  • Get outdoors and exercise regularly (even just a short daily walk) but avoid vigorous exercise near bedtime if it affects your sleep
  • Eat as well as you can, including fresh fruit and veggies in your diet, having three meals a day
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Both will stop you from falling asleep and will prevent deep sleep
  • Put your mobile phone in another room if you’re tempted to scroll while in bed. That said, there are numerous apps and online programmes which can help with sleep problems
  • Have a cut-off time for working on a computer or using your phone or tablet in the evening, as the light from the screen can have a negative impact on sleep. Social media, news and games, gripping films and TV series will stimulate your brain and potentially make you feel anxious
  • Write down your worries if you lie awake worrying. This can help put your mind at rest and help you better tackle concerns the next day
  • If you can’t sleep, try not to worry about it. Instead, get up and do something relaxing like listening to music or read a book until you feel sleepy and can return to bed.

If there are issues that are keeping you awake at night, money worries for example, do seek help in tackling them. A good source of advice and help is the Citizens Advice Bureau. The local branch is based at our MindSpace hub in Broad Street – details can be found at

For more information on finding a solution to sleep problems, see

Words by Sue Parslow (Trustee – Communications, MindSpace)