Dreaming of Better Sleep? Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted: 11/03/24

You probably know that when you get a really good night’s sleep, you wake up feeling better in both your body and your mind. That’s because when you sleep, your body gets a chance to rest and repair things. And your brain does all sorts of things to repair and regulate different systems too.

Getting lots of good sleep is essential for good mental and physical health. And regularly struggling to get enough sleep can make some mental health problems worse.

It can be very frustrating to not get enough sleep, especially if you’re tossing and turning, struggling to drop off. However, there are some simple things that can help.

We’re marking World Sleep Day, on 15 March, by sharing some of the things that can help you get a better night’s rest.

Helping our patients get a better night’s sleep

A hospital ward can be a very difficult place to get a proper night’s sleep. Although our patients have their own bedrooms, there may be noises elsewhere on the ward. And some people need to be checked on during the night to make sure they are safe and well.

Our SleepWell programme was created by the Regional Sleep Disorders service, Researchers, and a range of other specialist staff at CNTW. The SleepWell programme offers wards support and ‘smarter sleep’ resources to help people improve their bedtime habits, and reduce reliance on medication to get to sleep.

Kirstie Anderson, a sleep specialist working with CNTW, explains: “Sleeping medication can be useful, but it often has some unpleasant side-effects. It should only be used for short amounts of time. Changing your habits and behaviours often works better to improve your sleep in the long-term.

“We try to help patients understand their sleeping patterns and see if some small changes can help them to get a good rest naturally, before we turn to medications.

“The educational resources have been really well-received by staff and patients – lots of people have told us it’s helped them to get a better night’s sleep, which is absolutely vital for treatment and recovery when someone is unwell.”

The SleepWell pilot project was also ‘highly commended’ in both the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards 2019 and the Health Service Journal Patient Safety Awards 2020.

Our Smarter Sleep resources were developed by and for patients and staff on our wards. But anyone can use them. There is a poster with tips anyone can try, a sleep diary to help you understand your sleep patterns, and a short video and sleep handbook for healthcare professionals.

Top tips for sleeping better:

  • Try to spend some  time outside in natural light every day – this helps to regulate your body’s natural ‘clock’. Experts say this can be one of the most effective ways to improve your sleep!
  • Simple lifestyle changes can help: for example, exercising during the day (but not very late in the evening) helps us to sleep deeper, and having some screen-free time can help you to relax before bed.
  • Create the right environment for sleep – a calm, cool room, without noises or distractions.
  • Reduce how much caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine you have during the day.
  • Try to get up and out of bed at about the same time each day.
  • Ask your pharmacist to review your medication – some medicines can make you sleepy during the day, or make it harder to sleep at night.
If you’re still struggling after trying these tips, you could record  your sleep using a sleep diary to help you notice any patterns.

You can also try our Sleeping Problems self-help guide, which has lots of information about what can cause sleeping problems and ways to overcome them.