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Sweet Dreams are made of this

Sleep well last night? Or were you staring at the ceiling, willing your eyes to shut, watching the clock waiting for your alarm?

One in three of us has a bad night’s sleep once in a while…one in ten sleeps badly every night. It’s now being recognised as a major health risk.

Running out of steam and struggling to concentrate as the day goes on is not great, but poor sleep is also linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer.

We look at how important sleep is to your wellbeing; what causes sleep problems and what you can do about it.

Fundamental

Sleep isn’t an optional extra in life – it’s a fundamental. How you sleep has a major impact on your life and your health. Your mental wellbeing suffers through low mood. You may become lethargic, your concentration and memory often worsen and you may become irritable.

So what can you do? Here are some hints and tips and links to online resources. If you think your sleep problems are related to health conditions or pain get in touch with your GP. Depending on where you live you can also be referred for sleep therapy including online therapies.

Sleepio

Sleep therapist Amanda runs Sleepio, a digital self help programme to help people overcome sleep problems.  

She explains: “Although it’s online you get lots of support. When you sign up you are allocated a therapist who will call you to welcome you to the programme then ring you each week to see how you are doing and make suggestions. In between you can talk to ‘The Prof’ a virtual psychologist.

 ” It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, lack of sleep impacts on your wellbeing. The Sleepio service helps you set your own goals in your own time. You complete an online diary which your therapist can use to give you guidance. There are video files, expert articles on sleep disorders and a forum so you can share experiences if you wish. Your weekly telephone call allows you to offload and ask questions.”

Your GP will tell you whether Sleepio is available in your area. In Liverpool the service is offered through Talk Liverpool. Anyone registered with a Liverpool GP or studying in the city can be referred or self refer by going along to a Talk Liverpool venue.

Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture and can prevent you from getting a good nights’ sleep. There’s no golden rule on how often – if it’s getting uncomfortable or looking worn, change it!

Ready for Bed?

Experts say you should go to bed at the same time each day and spend the two hours before you go to sleep preparing and winding down. Here are some tips:

A warm (not hot) bath will help your body reach the right temperature for rest

  • Writing "to do" lists for tomorrow can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of distractions
  • Relaxation exercises are great muscle relaxants 
  • Playlists of relaxation music distract you and make you more sleepy
  • Reading is an age old but proven relaxation method

If you really can’t sleep…

  • Turn your alarm clock toward the wall so you’re less aware of the time. Try a simple relaxation technique while in bed. If you’re still awake after twenty minutes, get out of bed, read a book or magazine or listen to soothing music then go back to bed.

What’s in Your Bedroom?

A bed? wardrobes? television? computer? It seems electronic gadgets can get in the way of you and your sleep – along with light and noise. Phones and laptop screens produce “blue light” - visible light with relatively short –wavelengths known to suppress our natural sleep hormones. Using them for games or movies keeps you awake and alert. If you need to use your phone as alarm clock switch it onto airplane mode. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and tidy.  

Avoid…

  • Tea, coffee and energy drinks after lunchtime and eat your evening meal a few hours before heading to bed
  • Alcohol. It’s a sedative so can you get off to sleep, but it also tends to create a more broken up and unsatisfying sleep
  • Exercise late in the day. It can elevate our alertness for several hours; ideally exercise no later than late afternoon.

 Did you know? 

  • You can survive three times as long without food as you could without sleep. The average adult sleeps between seven to eight hours, but the amount of sleep we need varies depending on our age and our lives. Some people can survive on as little as four hours a night, others 10 hours.

Websites for sleep and sleep related conditions

Royal College of Psychiatrists

NHS Choices

Mind

Sleep Council

Having Trouble Sleeping?

If you're over the age of 16 and registered with a Liverpool GP, we can provide you with access to talking therapies, practical support and employment advice quickly and easily. We don't just provide support for people with sleeping problems and trouble sleeping, we can also help with a variety of other problems. 

For more information visit talkliverpool.com or call 0151 228 2300.