New column: East Riding of Yorkshire Council's One Year Mental Health project to tackle mental health issues - part 3
Lack of sleep can lead to mental health problems and having a mental health problem can lead to sleep troubles.
It is a tricky situation to be in and can sometimes be hard to escape from the vicious circle.
Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on your daily life and can lead to poor concentration and making mistakes easily, as well as having negative thoughts, feeling depressed or anxious and feeling lonely or isolated.
A big part of being unable to sleep is the ever-growing use of electronic devices just before bedtime, and this affects children as well as adults.
Ruth Harrison said: “My 11-year-old was constantly glued to her tablet before bed time and she was having quite a lot of trouble sleeping.
“I found that tablet time was taking over reading time and it’s harder to come to a natural stopping point on an electronic device like you can with a book.
“We ended up giving her a time limit and had to be on the ball as to how long she spent on the tablet and at what time. Her sleeping has improved since.”
Bright light before bed time can impact sleeping patterns as the stimulation can make the mind more active when it should be preparing to relax for the night.
From a mental health point of view, children who sleep less will feel the effects during school time, for example, where they need to be concentrating on their education.
Falling behind in their studies can lead to stress around exam periods and, equally, can result in feeling stress in their home lives.
What can you do?
l Try some breathing exercises to relax
l Make sure where you sleep is comfortable
l Keep a sleep diary to find out what is causing your sleepless nights
l Try to figure out what is causing your stress and resolve it if possible
l Take a break from technology before bed time
l Think about food, drink and exercise – caffeine and sugary foods can disturb sleep patterns whilst regular exercise can help.
Insomnia is the term used when you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. People suffering from sleep deprivation can experience fatigue, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances and decreased performance in work or at school.
Causes of insomnia can include stress, anxiety or depression, noise, temperature, an uncomfortable bed, alcohol and caffeine or nicotine.
Possible causes of this can include changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep routines, shift work, clinical disorders, certain medications and poor health and wellbeing habits.
l Establish a regular sleeping routine by going to bed at roughly the same time every night
l Relax for at least one hour before bed
l Make sure your room is dark and quiet – use thick curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs
l Make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable