Sleep is an essential part of maintaining good health and wellbeing. Getting a good night’s sleep helps protect both your mental and physical health, improves your quality of life and helps your body repair itself. These are key elements to maintain during any recovery journey.
So how much sleep do I need?
Each person’s sleep needs vary. On average, a person needs 8 hours sleep a night in order to function well during the day, however some people need as little as 5 hours – and some people might not be able to function well without 10 hours sleep a night.
If you think you have trouble with sleep, it is best to discuss this with your GP.
What happens if I don’t get enough sleep?
Side effects from chronic lack of sleep include:
- Increased symptoms of depression/anxiety
- Memory problems
- Tension headaches and migraines
- Short temper
- Blurred vision
- Reduced immune system
- Weight gain
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduced libido
- Reduced reaction time
- Reduced rate of recovery
9 ways to get better sleep:
- Have a proper night-time routine to get your brain into the habit of going to bed and sleeping at a set time.
- Listen to some relaxing music to help slow your brain and body down. It doesn’t have to be whale noises or classical music – even your favourite music at a low volume can help.
- Try some relaxation techniques such as a type of yoga specifically for sleep and relaxation. You can watch the Help for Heroes yoga video for sleep and relaxation here.
- If you can’t get to sleep within 20-30 minutes, get up and leave your bedroom to do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
- Move your alarm clock or mobile phone away so that you can’t ‘clock watch’ as you try and drift off to sleep.
- Avoid watching TV, playing computer games or doing other daytime activities in bed.
- Try not to ‘make up for lost sleep’ by napping during the day or having a big lie-in at weekends.
- Avoid alcohol, which reduces sleep quality and stops you feeling rested.
- Caffeine and nicotine both keep you awake. Try not to smoke before bed and don’t drink caffeine in excess – and not within 6 hours of bedtime.
Find out more tips and exercises to help you get a better night's sleep on the wellbeing pages.