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Trouble sleeping?

If you're having sleep problems, there are simple steps you can take to ease those restless nights. Find out how to get to sleep and how to sleep better.

We also have expert advice and tips to help look after your mental health and wellbeing if you are worried or anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Understanding sleep problems

We all have evenings when we find it hard to fall asleep or find ourselves waking up in the night. How we sleep and how much sleep we need is different for all of us and changes as we get older.

Sleep problems usually sort themselves out within about a month. But longer stretches of bad sleep can start to affect our lives. It can cause extreme tiredness and make usually manageable tasks harder.

If you regularly have problems sleeping, you may be experiencing insomnia. Insomnia can last for months or even years, but usually improves if you change your sleeping habits.

Sleep problems are common, and the tips on this page should help. But if they have not worked, or you have had trouble sleeping for months and it affects your daily life in a way that makes it hard to cope, you could benefit from further support.

Top tips to get to sleep and sleep better

Keep regular sleep hours

Going to bed when you feel tired and getting up at roughly the same time helps teach your body to sleep better. Try to avoid napping where possible.

Confront sleeplessness

If you are lying awake unable to sleep, do not force it. Get up and do something relaxing for a bit, and return to bed when you feel sleepier.

Create a restful environment

Dark, quiet and cool environments generally make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Watch our video for tips on how to sleep better.

Video: Tips for sleeping better

Write down your worries

If you often lie awake worrying about tomorrow, set aside time before bed to make a list for the next day. This can help put your mind at rest.

Video: Tackle your worries

Move more, sleep better

Being active can help you sleep better. These videos can get you going, but remember to avoid vigorous activity near bedtime if it affects your sleep.

Better Health: Home workout videos

Put down the pick-me-ups

Caffeine and alcohol can stop you falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Try to cut down on alcohol and avoid caffeine close to bedtime.

Find what works for you

Get Your Mind Plan

Answer 5 quick questions to get your free plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.

Video: What you can do for sleep problems

Professor Colin Espie, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, says: "It really helps if you're on a wind-down curve some while before you go to bed."

Signs of sleep problems

You may:

  • find it difficult to fall asleep
  • lie awake for long periods at night
  • wake up several times during the night
  • wake up early and be unable to get back to sleep
  • feel down or have a lower mood
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • be more irritable than usual
  • feel like you have not slept well when you wake up in the morning

Long-term sleep problems can lead you to:

  • feel your relationships are suffering
  • struggle to maintain a social life
  • have a hard time doing everyday tasks
  • feel hungrier and snack more
  • feel tired during the day

Possible causes of sleep problems

There are many reasons why you might not be able to sleep well.

Some people are naturally lighter sleepers or take longer to drop off, while some life circumstances might make it more likely for your sleep to be interrupted, like stressful events or having a new baby.

There are lots of things that can influence our mental health, such as our upbringing, childhood environment, things that happen to us and even our temperament.

Learn more about what affects our mental health and what support is available for life's challenges.

Support for sleep problems

Helping someone else

Get tips and advice on helping others struggling with their mental health.

Urgent support

If you cannot wait to see a doctor and feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe, it's important to get support – services are still open during the coronavirus pandemic.