Sleep is as essential to our bodies and brains as eating, drinking and breathing. 

Why is sleep important?

  • Sleep balances your mood and can make you happier: emotions are tempered and stripped away during sleep.
  • Lack of sleep can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses.
  • Lack of sleep makes it difficult to concentrate.
  • Sleep promotes creativity: rapid eye movement sleep helps us process information creatively.
  • Lack of sleep can reduce your ability to make connections between thoughts and ideas.
  • Sleep boosts your immune system: we produce more antibodies with a good night’s sleep.
  • Lack of sleep can increase blood pressure and stress hormones and depresses the immune system.

Learn more about how lack of sleep affects your brain and personality (The Conversation).

Sleeping tips

  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable - not too hot, not too cold, not too noisy.
  • Get some exercise. Do not overdo it, but try some regular swimming or walking. The best time to exercise is in the daytime and no later than early evening.
  • Take some time to relax properly before going to bed. Create a ritual: have a hot bath, make a herbal tea, read a non-work book.
  • If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down. Tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow and shut it away.
  • Sleep only when sleepy. If you cannot sleep, get up and do something you find relaxing. Avoid lying in bed worrying about not sleeping.
  • Switch off to switch offblue light from screens disrupts sleep rhythms. Avoid using computers, phones, or tablets late at night.
  • Only use your bed for sleeping. Try not to use your bed to work, use a computer or read academic texts.
  • Stop drinking tea or coffee by mid-afternoon. Caffeine hangs around in your body for many hours.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. It may help you fall asleep, but you will almost certainly wake up during the night. Do not eat or drink a lot late at night.
  • If you have had a bad night, don’t sleep in the next day as it will make it harder to get to sleep the following night.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Establish a regular time to have breakfast. Reinforce your biological rhythms.

Stress, anxiety and depression can all affect our sleeping patterns. In these cases, the underlying condition needs to be treated. Please see our Advice A-Z on addressing these difficulties.

Medical issues

Many medical conditions can affect sleep patterns, including asthma, diabetes, iron deficiency, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.

If you are falling asleep in the daytime even after a week or two of getting enough sleep at night, there may be a physical cause.

Consult your doctor if you think there might be an underlying issue.


The NHS Live Well pages provide information on a range of aspects of sleep and tiredness including: