Sleeping Difficulties

What is a ‘sleeping difficulty’?

It’s sometimes hard to know if you have a sleeping difficulty – also known as a sleeping problem – as everyone has a different sleeping pattern and will need different amounts of sleep, making it hard to know what “normal” sleep is.

Ultimately, a sleeping difficulty is when you have trouble sleeping at night, but there are lots of different kinds of sleeping problems, such as:

          

          

What causes sleeping problems?

  • Sometimes it can start out simply because you’re not getting enough sleep, perhaps staying up too late texting friends or watching TV
  • You could be worrying about not getting enough sleep
  • You might be worrying about other things in your life
  • Problems at home, such as arguments or abuse
  • Being bullied or peer pressure
  • Exam stress or struggling with school work

Effects of sleeping problems

Once you start to struggle with sleep, you can often find yourself in a cycle where one problem leads to another, and another, and another...

What can help?

Make good habits:

  • Try not to nap during the day as this can affect your natural sleeping habits and could make the problem worse.

  • Make sure your bedroom is comfortable – check that the light is right, there’s no noise or play gentle music if that helps, the temperature is okay, and your bedding is comfortable.

  • Try not to use electronic devices before bed as the light they give off can actually make sleep worse.

  • Make a good routine and stick to it – be consistent by going to bed at the same time and getting up the next morning around the same time too. On a weekend, you can have a lie in, but try not to sleep for too long as this may also disrupt your sleeping routine.

  • Have a pre-bedtime routine where you can wind down and relax before going to bed, for example, playing gentle music, having a relaxing bath or some other activity that you find relaxing.

  • If your problem is being unable to fall asleep when you go to bed, then get out of bed after 20-30 minutes if you haven’t managed to go to sleep. Do a relaxing activity (as suggested above) then get back into bed and try going to sleep again.

  • Try to make sure your bed is only used for sleeping,  for example, avoid watching TV or films in bed or talking on the phone in bed.

  • Try to avoid drinking caffeinated or fizzy drinks a few hours before going to bed, as they will stimulate your mind and cause you to feel more awake.

If you’re really worried about your sleeping habits and think you might have a problem with sleep, talk to someone you trust such as a parent/carer, a friend, a teacher or a GP. They can help you to understand why you might be having sleeping difficulties, support you with the underlying issue and help you to sleep better overall.


Real Life Experience

If you'd like to share your experiences of sleeping difficulties, please email tewv.vrc@nhs.net