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The family monster that is sleep

15 March 2019

We’re all constantly tired or definitely know someone who is – it’s a very common family monsters indeed. So we thought, why not give you some tips on how to tackle the monster most of us share? Read Connor’s top tips below:

How to get better sleep
Sleep problems are common, most people experience difficulties getting their head down at some point in their lives. Poor quality of sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health, affecting your mood, self-esteem, and making life harder to cope with.
Poor sleep can cause declining mental health, and your bedtime routine could be having an influence. Healthy sleep habits, known as sleep hygiene, can help you stay rested and improve other areas in your waking life.
We have built a list of tips and ideas that may help you resolve any night time issues.

No electronics
The light from the television, smartphone, tablet, and even digital alarm clock screen can make it harder to fall asleep. The blue light can disrupt your internal body clock, which relies on clues from the environment to tell it whether its night or day, and whether you should be wide awake or very tired, this disruption from bright screens can extend the period of time it takes for you to fall asleep. Many of us rely on an alarm from our phones to wake us up each morning. Having it next to our bed, but app notifications, emails and messages constantly pop through in the night, sometimes even causing the screen to light up. A genuine alarm clock may be a worthy replacement.

Switching off – They sure are fun, but backlit screens such as the TV could be the reason why you can’t sleep.

Wind down
If you jump straight into bed after a busy day hopping from activity to activity, your thoughts can still be racing and sleep is often elusive. Having a wind down routine for thirty minutes to an hour before getting into bed can help calm your mind and body to a level where sleep is conducive.
Activities you can do to wind down:
• Reading is accepted to be helpful in winding down, it reduces stress and helps you ditch the screens. If you can, read a paper book, as a lot of e-readers disrupt your body clock.
• Writing down your worries and ideas earlier in the day can help clear your mind. It is recommended to do this sometime before getting into bed so that you can separate yourself from your thoughts at bedtime. You can check back on your list a few days later.
• Anxiety can keep our bodies and minds stressed and unable to relax, some people find relaxation techniques useful. Slowly and deeply inhaling for 5 seconds, and then releasing the breath over the space of 5 seconds can calm your nervous system and make it easier for sleep to come. You can also focus on your breath, noticing each inhale and exhale. This can stop your mind straying to more stimulating thoughts and worries.

“breathing over the space of 5 seconds can calm your nervous system”

Limit sleep saboteurs
• A lot of us use caffeine through the day to stay awake, but research suggests that consuming it even 6 hours before bedtime can impact your ability to sleep. It can also increase your levels of anxiety and aggravate mental health conditions as it stimulates your fight or flight response. So it’s best to put a limit the coffee, especially in the later hours of the day.
• Drinking alcohol before bed can help you fall into a deep sleep faster, but it disrupts your sleep cycle and reduces the amount of time spent in that restorative deep sleep, causing you to wake up feeling less rested than usual.
• There are conflicting arguments on the topic of eating before bed, and evidence supporting both sides. Having a meal before bed may cause indigestion, and according to research weight gain, it may mean you’re not eating enough during the day. However, going to bed hungry may mean you wake up in the night, so what can you do? Go for healthy snacks such as nuts or oats and try to eat a full balanced meal 2 hours before bed.

Get a routine
By going to bed at the same time every night you will experience a better quality of sleep. Research suggests that over time your body’s internal clock will recognise the pattern and adjust itself.

Stop napping
They can sometimes be hard to avoid, but napping at the wrong time could impact your ability to fall asleep at night, and contribute to a disordered sleep schedule.The cat can nap – He doesn’t have to be up at 6am, lucky fella.

Make your bedroom cosy
Darkness and quiet are important for sleep, you should invest in heavy curtains or a blackout blind that blocks out all light. Remove any sources of noise that disturb you, this may even include a ticking clock. You can also use eye masks and ear plugs if this helps you. Keeping the bedroom as a place only for sleep and the like is helpful, as your mind will begin to make the association. Try to get a comfy mattress that is tailored to your preferences, it is recommended that you replace it every 8 years, and pillows once a year. The ideal temperature for restful sleep is 16-18°C, but will vary slightly from person to person.

Exercise is a common stress buster, and an effective remedy to sleep problems. Try to keep a regular exercise routine, the NHS have great guidance on this topic. If you haven’t exercised for a while, don’t feel afraid to start small.

Do you share this common family monster? Are there family monsters you’re wondering if other families go through to? Well, join the conversation or start a conversation so you can find out and sort them out. We all have pressures and stresses so why not start talking about them – it’s one of the first steps to getting back on top.

Join the Family Monsters Project
We want to get everybody to join the conversation and get talking about their family monsters, no matter how big or small, so we can face them together. You can get involved by using #MyFamilyMonsters on social media – follow our socials to stay up-to-date. As well as, starting a conversation or getting support.

Watch four families in our new project’s film who are struggling with everyday pressures:


An apprentice at our Building A New Direction service.