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World Mental Health Day 2018: Leeds IAPT workshop helping people sleep

iStock-1124662865A new sleep workshop in Leeds is helping people get a good night’s rest as part of a range of mental health support offered by the city’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service.

In an ideal world, we are supposed to spend a third of our lives sleeping and, on World Mental Health Day (Wednesday October 10), the importance of rest and link between sleep and wellbeing is being highlighted.

Most of us can relate to an occasion where a bad night’s sleep takes its toll on day-to-day activities or is impacting on everyday life.

In Leeds, alongside Stress Control and Wellbeing in the Workplace workshops, IAPT - a group of mental health care providers from Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Community Links, Northpoint Wellbeing and Touchstone - has been running a new Sleep Well workshop since July.

The one-off workshop focuses on improving quality of sleep by using a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based model which is commonly used and well researched.

It encourages those taking part to build an awareness of their problem and learn coping strategies, such as learning to relax, managing worries and retraining their sleep.

Laura McLean, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner from Touchstone who leads sessions, said: “The feedback from some of the other treatment options we have was that people would like a workshop focusing on sleep.

“We developed the workshop and a workbook that goes alongside it which people can take away and use to help them take forward the techniques discussed in the workshop.

“Any kind of mental health problem – stress, anxiety, depression – it is usually going to disrupt sleep in a way. Then if you are not sleeping well on a night it will affect how you are able to function and cope the next day.”

Upcoming Sleep Well workshops are being held on 8 November 2018 and 13 December 2018.

They last two hours and are delivered in a class environment of up to 40 people. You must be registered with a Leeds GP in order to be able to attend.

For more information, including details of how to book onto a workshop, visit the Leeds IAPT website here.

Leeds IAPT’s top tips for a good night’s sleep:

Follow a bedtime routine

Following the same set of activities each night in the 30 to 60 minutes before bed psychologically trains your brain to recognise it’s time for bed when it’s bedtime. Your bedtime routine should be relaxing. The goal is to wind your mind and body down for sleep. E.g. Take a bath, read a book in another room etc.​

Limit screen time before going to bed

Looking up close at computer screens, tablets and phones shortly before bed is detrimental to sleep as the blue light produced by them tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime again. Try to stop using all electronics one hour before bed. If you absolutely can’t tear yourself away from any of these items, at least turn on the red light filter.

Think about your environment

Your bedroom should be as quiet as possible. If you find absolute silence uncomfortable, look into white noise apps/machines as they can be helpful for calming those anxieties or drowning out unwanted noises. The best temperature for falling asleep is around 18 degrees Celsius. Keeping your bedroom dark also keeps it cool. More importantly, the darkness convinces your brain that it’s still night time. Consider buying an eye mask or blackout curtains if your room is light. 

Watch what you eat and drink, and when

Avoid eating large meals late at night as although they can make us feel sleepy, they often result in disrupted sleep a few hours later. A more nutritious diet supports higher quality sleep and there are certain foods which are known to promote sleep such as oats, yogurts, rice and milk. Caffeine and alcohol both disrupt sleep. While alcohol may make you drowsy and induce sleep initially, it disrupts your sleep later in the night by preventing you from getting essential amounts of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and deep sleep. On the other hand caffeine is a stimulant which speeds up your nervous system, so your brain thinks it’s time to wake up instead of wind down. Try to stop drinking caffeine four to six hours before you plan on going to bed.

Stay calm when you can’t sleep

Even if you put all these sleep hygiene tips into practice, there will still be nights when you have difficulty falling asleep. When that happens, don’t panic. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing somewhere else. You don’t want your mind to associate your bed with frustration. Do the same if you wake up during the night and can’t fall back asleep. In either scenario, don’t focus on the time, as it will just cause unhelpful anxiety. Read a book or do another calming activity that can be done in low lighting. Do NOT turn on your electronics!

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