SELF HELP FOR
INSOMNIA & SLEEP PROBLEMS
are many reasons for not sleeping well which may include distress, physical
discomfort or physical illness.
Sleep needs vary. A baby
starts life needing 16 hours or so of sleep each day, and the time we need for
sleep decreases as we get older, so that adults, and particularly older adults
may only need 4-6 hours a night.
People's needs vary,
but most people feel they need 7-8 hours, whilst others feel they need
We might have difficulty
getting off to sleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake early in the
morning and not be able to get back to sleep. These all result in our feeling
that we haven't slept enough - we feel tired, tense and are likely to worry
about not sleeping. This worry can then make it even harder for us to sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, there are some things you can do to help yourself
get a good restful night. These include making changes in:
behaviour and routine
Change your Environment
Are there any helpful changes you can make?
- Bedroom too light (or
- Bedroom too hot or too
- Bedroom too noisy
- Bed too uncomfortable
- Partner keeping you
awake? (snoring, restless etc)
- TV, computer, tablet or
mobile in your bedroom
Making changes to our
environment so that our bedrooms become a restful place for sleeping.
Remove excess light (particularly blue light), make sure the temperature is
right, and check the bed and pillow are comfortable. If you cannot reduce
the noise, then consider ear-plugs designed for sleep use. Remove TV and
device screens from your bedroom, and read from a conventional book rather than
an e-book on a back-lit screen.
Change your Behaviour
- Use your choice of
relaxation technique before going to bed (whatever
works for you)
- Do not go without sleep
for a long time if you can help it. Keep to a regular pattern of going
to bed and getting up at the same time every day, whether you are tired or not
- Keep bed for sleep and
sex. No watching television, browsing the internet or checking your email or
- Get some exercise
during the day. Try some regular swimming or walking. Avoid exercise late in
- Reduce the caffeine
(tea, coffee, some soft drinks) in the evening. Try a milky drink instead.
- Don`t drink a lot of
alcohol. It may help you fall asleep, but you are more likely to wake up
during the night.
- Don`t eat or drink a
lot late at night. Try to have your evening meal early rather than late.
- If you have had a bad
night, resist the temptation to sleep the next day which will make it harder
to get off to sleep the following night.
- If something is
troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing
it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.
- If you cannot sleep,
don`t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing
like reading or listening to quiet music. After a while you should feel tired
enough to go to bed again.
- Keep a
for a week. Then you can look back and notice what helps you sleep
better and what doesn`t, so you can make positive changes and do more of what
helps, and less of what doesn`t. If nothing seemed to help, try something
- Speak to your doctor
about your medication and how that might be affecting your sleep.
- Avoid clock watching
when in bed and put your attention somewhere restful
Steps to positive mental health
- Use a
Change your Thinking
Worrying about not
sleeping will keep you awake! Rather than put your focus of attention on the
worrying thoughts, notice that they are just thoughts,
then put your attention somewhere restful, use imagery,
mindful breathing, or your
Tell yourself that
worrying about it will not help, and that you probably are getting enough, just
less than you think you need. Our needs change as we get older.
If you're worrying about a
particular problem, write it down, and tell yourself you can sort it in the
Distract yourself by
thinking about a random sequence of objects for a few seconds each.
E.g. a table, a tree, a saucepan, a flower, a cow, a cloud etc. Or you
could think about a few items beginning with the letter "B", then move on
through the alphabet.
Download and listen to the
Simply Sleep mp3 (below)
SIMPLY SLEEP mp3
Female voice, with music.
36 mins 30s
SIMPLY SLEEP mp3
Male voice, with music.
36 mins 30s
Sleep Self Help -
this page as PDF
BACES: Steps to positive
Self Help Books
Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Problems: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques
An Introduction to Coping with Insomnia and Sleep Problems (Overcoming: Booklet series)
The Effortless Sleep Method: The Incredible New Cure for Insomnia and Chronic Sleep Problems
Say Goodnight to Insomnia: A Drug-free Programme Developed at Harvard Medical School