Sleep Tool Kit

How does poor or lack of sleep affect people, and what can you do?

Research shows that there are links between lack of sleep and high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It also makes us more vulnerable to infection and raises the risk of accident and injury.

Why can’t I sleep?

There are many reasons why you might get less sleep than the recommended 7-9 hours a night. Work related stress, working anti-social hours, illness and injury, getting older, money worries and personal loss are just a few of the issues that can keep us awake at night.

How can you tell if lack of sleep is affecting everyday life?

Common signs include general deterioration in your performance, poor concentration or poor memory, as well as being in a poor mood and greater risk taking.

Signs of sleep deprivation

  • Decreased communication
  • Performance deterioration
  • Poor concentration/ easy distracted
  • Poor cognitive assimilation and memory
  • Poor mood/inappropriate behaviour
  • Greater risk taking behaviour
  • Inability to make necessary adjustments
  • Increased intake of caffeine
  • Increased sickness/ sickness absence

What can you do about it?

There are steps you can take if you feel you’re showing signs of any of the above and think it may be down to not sleeping enough. This is where sleep hygiene comes in. Don’t be confused by the phrase sleep hygiene, it’s not about how clean your bedding is! Sleep hygiene is about creating the ideal conditions for a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is simply a description of the ideal conditions for a good night’s sleep. Each person has individual preference but good sleep hygiene incudes:

  • Fixed times for going to bed and waking up
  • Regular physical activity and positively impact sleep
  • Maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment that’s not too hot, cold, noisy and bright.
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late at night.
  • Avoidable eating a heavy meal late at night.
  • Turning off all devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Avoiding watching television, making phone calls, eating or working while in bed.

Progressive relaxation techniques can help you to relax and unwind at these times. A free audio guide for learning progressive relaxation techniques can be downloaded from: mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts

If sleep is still difficult there’s a range of help available. Talk to your GP, a pharmacist or visit NHS Choices or One You for further information.