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photo of a woman's feet hanging out of a duvet on a bed

13 Jul 2018

EAP Focus: Getting a restful night’s sleep

We all need sleep in order to rest and recover from the experiences of the day. However, some people may have difficulty falling asleep or struggling to remain asleep throughout the night. This article aims to cover a number of ways to help achieve a restful night’s sleep.

When we sleep our muscles relax, as our heartbeat and breathing slows down. Each person differs in how much sleep they need; some can get by on five hours, whereas for others eight hours is much more sufficient. It’s a good idea to follow your sleeping pattern to work out what is right for you in order to feel your best.

Lack of sleep can cause us to feel tired, more irritable and unable to concentrate. You may lack sufficient sleep because of worries keeping you awake, emotional problems such as stress or depression, as well as physical problems such as pain or illness.

Changing your rhythm

Our sleeping habits can also have a negative impact on our sleep. It’s important to follow a regular rhythm by going to sleep each evening and waking up in the morning at a similar time. This makes waking up much easier, and helps your body to adjust better. Try to avoid staying in bed longer than nine hours, taking naps in the day and lying in longer than two hours later than normal at the weekends.

Staying active and slowing down in the evenings

To get a good night’s sleep, it’s important to stay active in the day so your body is ready to relax at night.

However, it’s important to remember to take things slower in the evenings. Consider more relaxing activities such as yoga, reading a book or having a bath in the hours before going to bed.

Avoiding screens two hours before going to sleep can also contribute to a better night’s sleep. The light emitted from screens can prevent the production of melatonin, which is a natural substance that makes you feel sleepy.

Change your eating and drinking habits

What you consume can significantly affect how you sleep. Try not to eat heavy meals in the four hours before going to bed, or drinking too many liquids – especially alcohol and caffeine.

Improve your sleeping environment

Still finding it difficult to sleep? Check out the following tips to make your sleeping environment suitable for you:

  • Avoid having any clutter where possible;
  • Regulate the temperature, making sure it is not too hot or cold;
  • Keep it as dark as possible at night;
  • Ensure your bed is comfortable; and
  • Make sure it is not too noisy or any external noise can be shut out.

For more advice on sleep, check out the NHS Live Well webpages or the EAP website (use code lborowell).

The Employee Assistance Programme is an initiative that is part of the University’s commitment to provide support for staff wellbeing, which complements the University’s existing staff counselling and occupational health services.

The EAP service is available 24 hours a day, and can be accessed online or by ringing 0800 111 6387.