How can I improve my sleep?

Sleep is important to good mental health. This page explains how you can improve your sleep. This information is for adults living with mental illness in England and their loved ones and carers. It’s also for anyone else interested in the subject.

How can problems with sleep affect me?

Problems with sleep can affect how you feel physically and mentally. And how you feel can also affect how you sleep. Certain medications can also affect your sleep, causing you to sleep too much or not enough.

What can I do to get better sleep?

To get better sleep, you can try:

• Relaxing before bed with a warm bath, reading a book or listening to the radio
• Exercising regularly but avoiding vigorous exercise too close to bedtime
• Cutting down on caffeine, especially in the evening
• Avoiding too much food or alcohol late at night
• Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day
• Having a bedroom that is dark and quiet
• Not having a TV in the bedroom

If you can’t get to sleep, you could up and do something relaxing. Then go back to bed when you feel sleepy.

If you regularly have problems sleeping, then you can discuss this with your GP. Sometimes, GPs or psychiatrists may offer you medication to help you sleep. But medication for sleep is only recommended as a short-term solution. Your GP or psychiatrist should give you information about medication, but you can ask them questions too.

You might find trying to make some of the changes above help to make longer lasting improvements to your sleep.

The following apps and websites aim to help you improve sleep:

Sleepio. A 6-week online programme designed by sleep experts and based on cognitive and behavioural techniques to help combat poor sleep. Sleepio is evidence based and is recommended by the NHS. It is available for free to all residents of North Hampshire and The Thames Valley, who can access the programme either via their GP or directly at If you don't live in those areas and would like to enquire about accessing Sleepio you can email them.

Sleepstation. Sleepstation is free with a GP referral. It’s recommended by the NHS. It is a 6-week online course for people who struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. The course is tailored to your needs, using the information you provide. It gives you access to a team of sleep experts who will offer helpful advice and support throughout.
NHS information: 

Pzizz. Pzizz is an app to help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It’s recommended by the NHS. It’s free to download with in app purchases.
NHS information:

Mental Health Foundation – How to Sleep better:

Every Mind Matters: Trouble sleeping?

NHS self-help guide on Sleeping Problems:

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are conditions that affect your ability to regularly sleep well.

Some people experience sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea and narcolepsy. You can get information on sleep disorders here:

If you think you’re experiencing a sleep disorder you can see your GP for advice and possible treatment options.


© Rethink Mental Illness 2023

Last updated February 2023
Next update January 2024
Version number 1.1

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