The importance of healthy sleep habits for our mental health

A healthy sleep pattern is essential to our mental and physical health, with the NHS recommending between six and nine hours sleep every night. Consistent lack of good sleep can leave us feeling irritable and anxious, and this can impact our concentration at work and our personal relationships.

It can be even more of a challenge maintaining a regular sleeping pattern for people who do shift-based work, and even more so when that shift work is in an environment that at times can be stressful or emotionally draining, such as working in the NHS. If you are a shift worker, you may not always have a fixed schedule for bedtime, but there are lots of steps you can take to help your mind and body have an established routine for a good sleep no matter what time of day you finish work.

Managing your diet

To help you drop off quickly, avoid too much caffeine, especially later in your shift. You can get trapped in a vicious cycle of relying on that extra cup of coffee to see you through when you’re tired, but try switching to decaf instead. Remember, fizzy drinks can also contain caffeine, as well as lots of sugar which will also impact your sleep. Where possible, also avoid eating too close to your sleep time to avoid indigestion when trying to settle down and rest.

Resist the tech and embrace the light

When you get home, try to avoid using electronic devices an hour before bed as the light emitted from these can impact your sleep significantly. Resist watching that TV series in bed and put your phone down and away from your bed to avoid the temptation of checking it.

Try to boost your intake of natural light and, where possible, maintain regular exercise. At the very least, try to get outside once a day for a brisk walk in natural light to boost your vitamin D and support your body’s natural rhythms.

Perfect your home comforts

It’s well worth investing in good quality curtains or blinds that will fully block out the light, especially if you are sleeping in the day after a night shift. If need be, consider an eye mask and ear plugs to help you sleep without distraction.

Sleepy scents and calming moves

Make a routine with little things that will help your brain associate with sleep, such as spraying a lavender-scented pillow spray as you settle into bed or listening to a mindfulness app to help clear your mind. You can also consider breathing and stretching exercises to relax your body and focus your mind.

It isn’t always easy for NHS staff to squeeze in a restful night’s sleep, but building in healthy habits can help make it easy for your mind and body to switch off. We have lots of useful NHS staff discounts available, so make sure you check out what discounts we can offer that will improve your sleeping habits. From lavender oils to sleep sprays, discounts on meditation apps and quality home furnishings, our discounts will ensure that a good night’s (or day’s!) sleep is the last of your worries.

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