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Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That’s a horrible place to be.”

Everyone needs sleep, but many of us have problems with it.

You might:

  • find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you’d like to (also known as insomnia) 
  • have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or psychosis. Anxiety can cause racing or repetitive thoughts, and worries that keep you awake. You may also have panic attacks while you’re trying to sleep.
  • find it hard to wake up or get out of bed
  • often feel tired or sleepy – this could be because you’re not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
  • be more likely to feel anxiousdepressed or suicidal
  • feel lonely or isolated – for example, if you don’t have the energy to see people or they don’t seem to understand
  • struggle to concentrate, or make plans and decisions
  • feel irritable or not have energy to do things
  • have problems with day to day life – for example, at work or with family and friends 
  • be more affected by other health problems, including mental health problems.

If problems with sleep are worrying you or affecting your day to day life, it’s a good idea to see a doctor who can give you a health check and help you access treatment and support. If you fill in a sleep diary, you could take this to your appointment to show your doctor.

Tips for a better night’s sleep

banana smoothie

Try to avoid any caffeine (tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, soft drinks, etc.) at least 4 hours before bedtime as caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake. Try to avoid smoking (including nicotine patches or chewing gum, etc) an hour before bedtime and when waking at night as nicotine is also a stimulant. Try to avoid alcohol around bedtime because although it can help you fall sleep at first, it can disrupt deep sleep later in the night. Also avoid eating a large meal just before bedtime, although a light snack is fine.

man waking up and turning off alarm

Even if it’s takes ages to get to sleep, stick to regular times for getting up – if you let yourself sleep in or nap during the day, you may have problems sleeping again that night.

Teenager lying down on the couch and wearing headphones, listening to music and relaxing

Try to avoid watching television, spending time on your phone or device at least an hour before bed time.

young man sleeping peacefully in darkened room

Keep the bedroom calm and tidy. Select a mattress, sheets, and pillows that are comfortable if possible. Avoid making your bedroom too hot or too cold. Keep the bedroom quiet and darkened during the night, but try to spend some time in daylight (or bright artificial light) during the day. Keep your bedroom mainly for sleeping.

girl reading in bed with cosy lighting

Try to establish a winding down routine such as having a bath, listening to relaxing music, reading a book or doing some breathing exercises or meditation before bed learn more here.

two girls stretching before training session

Being physically tired helps you sleep, so fresh air, walking and exercise can really help, but avoid vigorous exercise in the 2 hours before bedtime.

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