To celebrate World Sleep Day, we teamed up with our friends at Priory Healthcare to answer some frequently asked questions about how we can get a better nights sleep.
Getting back to sleep
1. What should I do when I wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep?
Get rid of bright lights or loud sounds Block any LED lights from electronics or light coming through your window. Shut your window to stop any disturbing noises.
Get out of bed and move Try getting out of bed, going to a different room and doing something relaxing to distract your mind for a few minutes.
Avoid staring at the clock Staring at the clock may make you feel more anxious about not sleeping.
Avoid checking your phone or other screens Screens from smartphones and other electronics emit blue light that may suppress your body’s melatonin production. Many devices offer a nightshift mode, which changes your screen to a warmer tone.
Meditate or try breathing exercises These techniques may distract you from worrying about falling asleep. One exercise you can use is called the box breathing technique.
Relax your muscles Try performing a full-body body scan.
Keep your lights off Resist the temptation to turn on your lights. Bright lights can stimulate wakefulness.
Focus on something boring The old classic “counting sheep” can help, or try reading a boring article or book to lull you back to sleep.
Listen to relaxing music Relaxing music may help relax your mind and coax you to sleep. It can also block sounds that may be disrupting your sleep.
Try sleep apps There are many sleep apps on the market that offer relaxing stories, music, or sounds.
2. How much sleep do I actually need?
Ideally 7-9 hours.
3. What is the best time to go to bed at night?
You should aim for 10-11pm.
4. Should my pet share my bed?
This really depends on whether your pet disturbs you in the night – but if not and is comforting, then why ever not?
5. My partner says I snore, should I be worried?
Snoring can in fact be a symptom of a health problem like obstructive sleep apnoea. Talk to your doctor if you snore often or if your partner notices that you sometimes stop breathing altogether.
6. I am going through the menopause and struggling with my sleep: what can I do to sleep better?
During the menopause women report hot flashes and night sweats, plus difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, in addition to early morning awakening. The sleep difficulties caused by vasomotor symptoms commonly coexist with depressed mood and anxiety, which may further influence sleep problems. The first step to help yourself is developing good sleep habits. Maybe consult a doctor to rule out underlying causes of sleep problems such as thyroid disorders, allergies or depression.
7. My restless legs stop me falling asleep at night but I don’t want to take medications, is there any thing I can do?
Sitting or resting is common triggers for RLS symptoms. Additionally, some substances can make symptoms worse such as: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, medications, colds and allergies, and mental health conditions. Good sleep hygiene means maintaining a bedroom environment and a daily routine that supports high-quality sleep.
8. I have an appointment to see my doctor about my sleep, how should I prepare?
Write a list of all of your concerns, your bedtime routine and keep a log of mealtimes, caffeine alcohol and cigarettes intake.
9. My fitness tracker tells me I don’t have enough deep sleep, what can I do about this?
Use the sleep series to improve your sleep hygiene score but regular exercise and avoiding late meals, caffeine and alcohol will all help.
My Possible Self is a mental health app that uses clinically recognised content to help you improve your mind. Teaming up with our friends at Priory Healthcare, world leaders in mental health, we have created interactive tools and techniques, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), customised for digital use.