Digital Healthy Schools Newsletter – Sleep tips
Good sleep is one of those things we’d all love to have a little more control over. Children and young people need more sleep than adults to function – but unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can impact our ability to get the amount of rest we need.
Whether it’s stress, illness, screen time, too little physical activity or too much caffeine, it doesn’t take much to throw our sleeping habits out of whack. Poor sleep can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health – and vice versa. If we’re struggling with our wellbeing, it’s often very difficult to sleep well, which then has a negative effect on our health. Most people will have difficulty with their sleep at some point, but ongoing or severe sleep problems need to be addressed. Lack of sleep can negatively affect our mood, concentration, weight, our ability to cope with stress and even how many spots and pimples we get.
Neurodiversity, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can also impact sleep. If your sleep problems carry on for a long time and trying different sleep-inducing habits doesn’t work, or there’s no obvious reason why you can’t sleep, you may wish to talk to your GP, as this could impact your learning and overall wellbeing.
Clearly, general health has a massive part to play in getting enough rest. There are hundreds of health apps in your Digital Healthy Schools Library to help with improving sleep, making sure you’re getting enough exercise, building healthy habits and more – and you can use the filters at the top of the search page to make sure you find the best app for you.
So, how do we improve our sleep? There are a number of ways we can help ourselves sleep better – the first is to try to identify why we’re having trouble sleeping. For instance, energy drinks or several hours of staring at a screen right before bed are very likely to cause difficulties falling or staying asleep. Similarly, lying in bed going over and over our worries or stresses doesn’t allow our brains to enter the state of rest needed for sleep.
A good sleep routine is key. This is called “sleep hygiene” (which doesn’t just mean clean bedding – although that definitely helps!). Essentially, it’s about creating a bedtime routine which helps us to wind down before bed. Creating a pattern to follow before going to bed helps your body and brain recognise that it’s time for sleep, and to settle into a restful state more easily.
First, identify a realistic bedtime which will allow you to get 8-10 hours of sleep. Stick to this bedtime as closely as you can – even on weekends. Set a time period before this time, between 30 minutes and two hours, you should avoid sugar, caffeine, heavy exercise and screens. Before this, you could set a blue light filter on your screens, as this light tends to stimulate our brains. If you often find yourself laying in bed worrying, you might use this time period to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do for tomorrow, and maybe create a to-do list for the following day, which could help you feel more in control of your outstanding tasks.
You may also want to try guided meditations, wind-down exercises or sleep story audios. There are loads of apps in your Digital Healthy Schools Library designed to help with sleep, try searching “sleep” or downloading one of our three top-rated sleep apps below.
*Please note: these are the three top-rated apps with specific sleep improvement functions that do not require a subscription by an organisation or service.
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