Making the choice to improve sleep means taking positive steps towards improving your health and wellbeing. This may include recognising and addressing any underlying causes of your sleep difficulties and attempting to restore a normal sleep pattern through changes in behaviour and lifestyle.
It is beneficial to try to follow a set routine: going to sleep and getting up at the same time, avoiding daytime naps, making sure your bed is comfortable and your bedroom is a calm, quiet and soothing environment, and avoiding working or watching TV in your bedroom. Taking sufficient exercise, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can assist with a more balanced sleep pattern.
Finding the causes for lack of sleep is difficult but many insomniacs have benefited from using a Sleep Diary to assist them with their sleep monitoring. This helps record things that happen during the day that may be a factor in their sleeping difficulties.
Techniques such as relaxation, yoga and meditation can help prepare your body and mind for sleep. Pre recorded tracks such as relaxation and meditation can help in relaxing you. Having a warm milky drink before bed, and herbal drinks such as valerian and chamomile, can also help.
There are many herbal sleeping aids available from pharmacists and health food stores although some sleeping tablets may be prescribed by your GP for short-term use only, when the cause of your sleep difficulties has been identified as bereavement or jet lag, for example.
For persistent insomnia and in addition to reviewing lifestyle patterns, counselling may assist in addressing any underlying issues that may be causing you stress or anxiety.
The Mental Health Foundation offers a number of excellent podcasts available to download, listen on their website or iTunes. Their Sleep podcast is intended to be listened to in bed. It can help you relax and get ready to go to sleep. They also have a Quick fix relaxation and exercise podcast with a number of short breathing techniques which can help relax and reduce stress before you go to bed.
NHS Choices provide information surrounding symptoms, causes and what to do.
Insomniacs is an excellent resource providing a wealth of information about insomnia including lifestyle, environment, sleep patterns and obtaining professional help.
Mind are a mental health charity and this webpage offers comprehensive sleep advice.
The Sleep Council provide a leaflet giving useful information regarding assessing your sleepiness, your bed and developing strategies
The Insomnia Helpline have information regarding insomnia, sleep apnoea, jet lag, natural remedies and further resources.
Self Help Guides produced by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust offer a wide range of information covering a range of wellbeing issues including insomnia.
Medical Advisory Service provides helpful and practical information to help you overcome your sleeping problem and how to seek appropriate advice and help.