Sleep for Wellbeing
In today’s world there are so many things competing with your sleep, but prioritising sleep is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve both your physical and mental health.
NCIM runs programmes to help you to understand how sleep can positively your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and help you to improve the quality of the sleep you are getting.
The Importance of Sleep
Good quality sleep is when you fall asleep quite easily, do not wake up fully during the night, do not wake up too early, and feel refreshed in the morning. It is not normal at any age to regularly have a lot of trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep if you are healthy.
You probably already know from experience that sleep impacts memory, mood and concentration. More than that, it plays a role in supporting your immune and cardiovascular systems, and impacts weight regulation as well as inflammation in the body.
You can also think of sleep as an emotional plaster – it allows you to process what’s going on in your world right now, for example during your dream state.
How long you sleep is of course important (7-9 hours is ideal for adults), but you need to think about the quality of your sleep for it to be properly restorative.
Poor sleep doesn’t just hinder memory, mood and concentration during the day, it can significantly impact your physical and mental health too. It suppresses your immune system and promotes inflammation in the body, it can lead to cardiovascular problems, obesity and diabetes, it can heighten anxiety and cause or exacerbate depression.
If you’re not getting enough good quality sleep, active rest is something that can really help. Managing your energy levels over a 24 hour period and finding ways to rest the brain help your body enter its ‘parasympathetic state’ which is when the healing processes kick in. Resting might look like taking a nap – but there are other things that can help to rest the brain such as spending time outdoors, slow, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, or writing in a journal. Each of these activities cause a physiological response in the brain which soothes your body’s nervous system.
If you sometimes don’t feel rested when you wake up even if you think you’re getting a long sleep, look at what else is happening in your life and draining your energy. Once you’ve identified what is stressing your body or your brain you can try to tackle it. Alternatively, you might be getting too much sleep and having a ‘sleep hangover’. Try knocking off a sleep cycle, i.e. waking up 90 minutes earlier than usual, and see if you feel better.
NB – if you find that you are regularly sleepy during the day or think that you might have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnoea (when you momentarily stop breathing while you sleep), it’s important to act and seek healthcare advice. Once you can address the underlying issues causing those disorders you can hopefully achieve more restorative sleep and better overall health.
There are lots of things you can do at home to improve your sleep – read our blog post on the matter for some interesting facts and sleep tips.
Sleep for Wellbeing - Six Week Course
Six week in-person or online programme – two hours per week in a small group of up to 12 people.
Session 1: Introduction: Course outline, review available books, how the body clock influences sleep patterns, introduce sleep diary, Q+A session.
Session 2: Sleep education: Myth-busting sleep, sleep disorders, how ill health can affect sleep.
Session 3: Sleep hygiene: How attitudes towards change can impact on success in managing sleep, develop your own sleep hygiene package.
Session 4: The importance of thoughts: How thoughts can interfere with sleep. Tools and techniques to quieten the mind.
Session 5: Lifestyle factors: Sleeping pills, herbal treatments and other holistic approaches.
Session 6: Moving forward: Revision of all the elements covered, action plan to keep you moving forward, strategies to help with nightmares and bad dreams.
Assessment (optional, at additional cost) NB not available for all Sleep programmes
As part of some of the NCIM courses, you may have the option to have a personalised assessment. This comprises the completion of two questionnaires plus a sleep diary. The data you provide will be analysed by the course leader and a personalised report will be generated. The report will cover what the key issues seem to be, whether you require any further investigations (such as a sleep study), as well as providing some guidance about how you might best approach improving your sleep.
Meet Your Tutor
Dr Sue Jackson
Dr Sue Jackson is a multi-award-winning researcher who trained at the University of the West of England in Bristol. She is a chartered psychologist whose main focus is understanding and raising awareness about the psychosocial impact of living with long term health conditions for both patients and their carers. Alongside her work as a visiting lecturer at the University of Plymouth she supports a number of charities providing advice and support, as well as running patient and carer workshops. Sue also works as a freelance writer and has a regular column in Pit Life, a magazine supporting patients with pituitary conditions. Sue has worked in the field of adult mental health for over 20 years. During that time she has developed a number of different psycho-educational workshops and other materials on a number of topics including stress, depression, anxiety, anger, trauma, self-esteem, and sleep.
From time to time NCIM is able to secure grant funding to deliver 6 week coureses for free in community settings.
Other Sleep for Wellbeing Programmes are self dunded and cost £120 for 6 weeks (6 x 90 min sessions), + £60 for optional assessment.