At a time when many are worried or anxious about COVID-19, and with the number of Brits struggling to sleep on the rise, this Mental Health Awareness Week (18th-24th May), Public Health England has launched new guidance on its ‘Every Mind Matters’ platform to help people improve their sleep.

It comes as new data from Public Health England shows that more than four in ten (41%) Brits are experiencing more sleep problems than usual, with over half of 16-29-year olds (52%) the most likely to be affected.

In addition, those already experiencing mental health problems more than usual are also more likely to be impacted. Among those experiencing low mood more than usual, 77% report more sleep problems during the outbreak, as do 67% of those experiencing stress more than usual and 66%5 of those with anxiety.

We know that sleep plays a critical role when it comes to maintaining positive mental wellbeing: long-term sleep loss can lead to issues such as anxiety and depression. In answer to this, Every Mind Matters advice has been updated with a range of things we can all do to look after our mental wellbeing and help others, to prevent any concerns from becoming more serious.

To help the nation improve their sleep, expert Professor Colin Espie features in a new short film in which he talks through the new NHS sleep tips and advice. The film highlights that there are simple steps you can take to ease those restless nights and offers advice to help you switch off before you go to sleep.

Professor Colin Espie’s NHS-approved tips:

  • Value your sleep – We need to take our sleep seriously and try and make sure we get enough, weekdays and weekends. This could mean going to bed earlier or spending less time in bed (the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person).
  • Proritise your sleep – Sleep is vital to our health, our wellbeing, our ability to function and to our mood. Prioritising our sleep means sometimes actively choosing it over something else. This may be difficult with the current disruption to our normal routines, but maintaining regular sleep habits is important, so make the commitment to winding down and getting to bed.
  • Personalise your sleep – The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person, so you need to find the sleep window that is right for you. Try settling earlier or later, or adjusting how long your sleep window is. Experiment, and trust that you will get it right.
  • Trust your sleep – We’re all designed for sleep, so trust that once you’ve got your pattern into shape, it will happen. If you can’t sleep, get up and move around, do something else for a while, and then go back to bed when you feel sleepy.
  • Protect your sleep – The most common enemy of good sleep is the racing and worried mind, so try to put the day to rest before you go to bed. Take time to jot down the things that have been on your mind so they won’t trouble you when you go to bed. If you’re working from home at the moment and having to use your bedroom to do so, try to remove all traces of work before you go to bed to revert the room back into a good sleep environment.

Alongside the new sleep support and advice, Every Mind Matters encourages people to complete a personal ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free interactive tool offering tailored mental wellbeing advice. More than 2 million ‘Mind Plans’ have been completed since Every Mind Matters launched in October.

For more information on Every Mind Matters click here.