Sleep is natural process when your body undergoes a series of changes to help it rest and repair itself which vital to physical and mental health. We all experience problems with sleep sometimes, however if you experience sleep problems regularly you may need some support and advice.
The amount of sleep you need varies on your age so 3-6 year olds need 10-12 hours, 7-12 year olds need 10-11 hours but by 12-18 you only need around 8-9 hours per day.
Types of sleep
There are two basic types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep (which has three different stages). You cycle through all stages of non-REM and REM sleep several times during a typical night, with increasingly longer, deeper REM periods occurring toward morning.
- Poor concentration
- Dark areas under eyes.
- Lack of energy
- Weakened immune system
- Changes in mood.
- Falls asleep when you don’t want to.
- Changes to appetite
- (16 -18) decrease in sex drive.
- (16-18) Difficulty driving.
Long term effects could include an increased risk of:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
Thoughts and feelings
You may experience unhelpful thoughts or feelings for example;
- I’m never going to be able to get to sleep!
- I don’t have time to go to sleep I need to revise for my exam.
- I won’t be able to concentrate tomorrow at school if I don’t sleep.
- I’m going to fail my test tomorrow.
- If I go to sleep now I’ll only get 3 hours sleep.
- I’m worried about argument I had with a friend at school today.
- I feel sad about my argument with my friend
- I’m happy i can get my revision done by not going to sleep
- I feel worried about my exam
- I kept looking at the clock to see what time it was during the night.
- I shouted at my parents for trying to me wake up for school.
- I feel asleep in during a lesson.
- I couldn’t concentrate on my school work so I didn’t finish it on time.
- I missed my swimming class because I was too tired.
- I did not do my homework when I got back from school because I was too tired.
Tips to help with sleep
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day (yes that includes the weekends)
Check your bedroom
- Check it is not too hot or too cold.
- Make sure it’s dark – draw the curtains, have a dim night light on if you don’t want it completely dark.
- Ensure your room is calm, comfortable and tidy.
- Avoid using devices at least 1 hr before bedtime this includes, mobile phones, tablets and TVs as devices can give off ‘blue light’ which keeps us awake by disrupting Melatonin in the brain.
- Establish a bedtime routine that you can stick to every evening
- Avoid drinking too much before bed (especially drinks with caffeine in like tea, coffee and fizzy drinks)
- Don’t exercise to closely to your bedtime – try and exercise in the daytime.
- Try not to nap during the day.
- Don’t eat a large meal before bed instead try a light snack like a banana and a warm milky drink to prevent you feel hungry during the night.
- (16-18) Avoid drugs and alcohol before bed.
- It can be difficult to sleep at times when we are worrying.
Things that can help
- Talk to an adult about your worries.
- Write your worries down before bedtime.
- Do something relaxing before bed such as reading or colouring.
- Avoid looking at the clock to see what time it is.