Sleeping well in times of change

19 May 2020

Sleeping well in times of change

Recent changes are making some of us feel more stressed. This may affect our sleep.

Getting enough sleep is important for physical and mental health and helps us manage our emotions during the day.

There are simple things we can all do to help us get enough sleep.

What can help you sleep better?

During the day:

  • take breaks from the news cycle and your social media feed; keep up-to-date via
  • make time to get outdoors and be active; if you can’t leave home, try online exercises
  • have a regular meal and snack routine
  • limit alcohol and caffeine and avoid smoking, particularly in the afternoon and evening as they can disrupt your sleep cycle.

In your bedroom:

  • try to keep your bedroom for sleep only; this will help your brain associate your room with sleep
  • if you are using your bedroom as your workspace for now, try to pack up your work at the end of your workday
  • keep electronic screens out of the bedroom
  • keep it a quiet and dark or dimly lit zone
  • avoid having a clock next to your bed; checking the time can increase anxiety about not sleeping
  • if your child is anxious or afraid at night, use a night light.

Before bedtime:

  • set up a bedtime routine to follow every day; this means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – even on the weekend
  • have dinner a few hours before bedtime
  • make time to relax before bedtime: watch, listen or read something that helps you to unwind (reading a book to children may help them go to sleep).
  • stop using electronic screens at least an hour before bedtime.

If you can’t sleep:

  • if you cannot get to sleep, get up out of bed; do something boring in dim light until you’re tired and then try again, and repeat as often as needed
  • write down your thoughts to get them out of your head; by writing them down you can let them go
  • practice mindfulness activities, for example be aware of your breathing
  • if you regularly have trouble sleeping, speak with your doctor.

How much is enough?

The amount of sleep we need changes with age.  The table below provides a guide on the amount of good quality sleep we need at different ages.

Amount of sleep needed

Infants 0–3 months

14 to 17 hours (including naps)

Infants 4–11 months

12 to 16 hours (including naps)

Toddlers 12–24 months

11 to 14 hours (including naps)

Pre-schoolers 3–5 years

10 to 13 hours (many children stop naps by this age)

Children aged 5–13 years

9 to 11 hours

Children aged 14–17 years

8 to 10 hours

Younger adults 12–25 years

7 to 9 hours

Adults 26–65 years

7 to 9 hours

Older adults >65 years

7 to 8 hours

More information

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