Sleep helps to protect our mental and physical health, quality of life and safety, which is why it plays a vital role in good health and wellbeing. In this blog, Sara McLaughlin, Occupational Therapist at Tyne Grange, shares why it’s important to have a good sleeping routine, and how we support people to have a good night’s sleep.
During sleep, our bodies release hormones that help to repair cells and control the body’s use of energy.
This allows the brain and body system to be repaired, heal and grow, which supports good mental and physical health.
So even though our bodies aren’t moving, a lot happens when we sleep!
How can having a routine support good sleep?
As an Occupational Therapist, my main role is to encourage and support people to engage in meaningful activities.
Promoting a healthy sleep routine is essential to my role, as too little or too much sleep can affect people’s mood and ability to engage in everyday activities.
It’s recommended that adults get between six and nine hours of sleep per night, to allow our bodies to rest and recuperate for the day ahead.
If an individual doesn’t engage in activities throughout the day, it’s more likely that they’ll remain in bed. Whereas, if we plan activities of interest, such as work, volunteering, or exercise, this encourages and promotes participation.
How can you set and maintain a healthy routine to support good sleep?
Implementing and maintaining a healthy sleep routine involves addressing a specific bed-time and wake-up time to follow each day. This promotes consistency and allows your internal body clock to get used to routine.
Part of my role as an Occupational Therapist involves working with people to devise a morning and evening routine, to promote a healthy sleeping pattern.
Recently I’ve worked with one of the service users at Tyne Grange to implement an evening routine, which has improved their quality of sleep – and as a result, has had a positive impact on other areas of their life such as social interaction, communication and general health.
We worked together to plan an evening routine which involves hourly activities that they find helpful to wind down and relax before going to bed. This routine starts from 17.00 and includes a short walk around the local area, listening to music or a podcast or having a bath. From 20.00, she puts all digital devices, including mobile phone and tablet, away in a drawer.
We’ve found that engaging in self-care activities on a night time helps to promote relaxation, such as hand massage, facials, using a foot spa, having a bath or writing in a journal.
I also work with people to plan morning activities to energise people for the day ahead, such as light stretching or yoga before breakfast.
I work with the wider Care Team to build these activities into people’s care plans.
What tips do you have to promote good sleep?
Tips that I've found useful are:
avoid caffeinated drinks several hours before bed time
avoid eating a heavy meal or snacking at night - try not to eat after your evening meal
keep fit – exercise can promote a good sleep routine
make sure that you have a comfortable bed
identify an activity which can help to relax and wind down on an evening such as meditation, self-care and reading.
If you’re unable to sleep, it’s best to get up and engage in something that you find relaxing, rather than lying and worrying about it. And then return to bed when you feel sleepy. If this continues, it’s best to seek medical advice from a Doctor.
Holistic care with Exemplar Health Care
Supporting and promoting good sleep is part of the holistic care that we provide at Exemplar Health Care.
Each of our homes has a skilled in-house team of Nurses, Health Care Assistants and Life Skills/Activities Coordinators, as well as access to Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Behaviour Support Specialists. This enables people to access holistic care in a community-based home that’s closer to their friends and family.