Head of Information, Mind
Our sleep and mental health may have been affected by the pandemic but help and support is available to those who need it.
The pandemic has taken its toll on the nation’s mental health. There are myriad reasons our mental health might be poor right now including concerns about becoming unwell, bereavement, home-schooling, furlough, redundancy and debt.
In addition, measures imposed on us – such as lockdown restrictions – can further affect our wellbeing. Our normal coping strategies, such as spending time with our loved ones or going to the gym, are also no longer available. There’s a strong relationship between our sleep and our mental health. Having poor mental health can affect your sleep and not sleeping well can negatively impact your mental health.
When to ask for help
If you notice changes to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours – which could include sleep – that last longer than two weeks, keep returning, or affect your daily life, you may have a mental health problem. Mental health problems affect everyone differently, but there are some common signs to look out for.
There’s a strong relationship between our sleep and our mental health. Having poor mental health can affect your sleep and not sleeping well can negatively impact your mental health.
If you’re experiencing an anxiety disorder, you may find it difficult to get to sleep or get enough sleep, particularly if you experience physical symptoms too, such as grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. Someone with depression may sleep a lot and stay in bed longer.
Some mental health problems, like bipolar disorder, can cause huge variations in our energy levels, meaning we might be able to function well – or at least perceive ourselves to be functioning well – on little or no sleep during ‘manic’ phases, and need a lot more sleep when our mood becomes much lower. Speak to your GP, who can talk you through support available.
Tips for improving sleep
To help manage sleep problems, try to make your bedroom nice and cosy, controlling noise, light and temperature if you can. Quiet, dark, cool spaces are most conducive to a good night’s rest. Create an evening routine and try to stick to a set time to go to bed and wake up every day, even on days when you don’t work.
Try to avoid caffeine five hours before bedtime, do an activity you find relaxing, such as taking a bath or trying some breathing exercises and switch off your devices a couple of hours before sleep.
Since January 2020, Mind’s partnership with Britain’s largest bed retailer Bensons for Beds, has helped raise over £370,000 to support people experiencing mental health problems.
Further sources of support and information