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Advice: Sleeping soundly

February 7th 2015

Getting any sleep at all can be tough on the streets. © Franco Folini/Creative Commons
Getting your full 40 winks can help you better face life’s struggles, says mental health nurse Christina Clark.

They say that money doesn't buy happiness, but apparently it does buy sleep. A survey of 2,000 adults in the UK found that more than three times as many people on lower incomes have trouble sleeping compared to those with the highest salaries.

Of those surveyed, 81 per cent felt that lack of sleep had a negative impact on their well-being and general happiness.

The survey was commissioned by StreetLink, as part of Homeless Link and St Mungo's Broadway's government-funded campaign to encourage rough sleepers to contact them for help.

Sleep – or the lack of it – affects the way we think and feel.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to poorer mental health and higher levels of anxiety. A study by the Mental Health Foundation in 2011 found that people who do not sleep well are four times more likely to have problems with relationships than those who sleep well, and three times as likely to experience low mood (83 per cent compared to 27 per cent).

They also found that they are three times as likely to have their concentration affected (78 per cent compared to 26 per cent), three times less likely to complete tasks at work or in their personal lives (68 per cent compared to 23 per cent) and more than twice as likely to suffer from deficiency in energy.

When you’re homeless, getting a good night’s sleep can be particularly tough. But it’s worth understanding the effect it has on your mood. Research has found that eight out of 10 people who have slept rough have reported poorer mental health, and depression and anxiety are linked to sleep deprivation.

The official advice on improving your the quality of your sleep can be difficult to follow if you don’t have a regular place to lay your head: no-one’s going to sleep as well on a sofa as they would in their own bed. And if you’re sleeping on the streets, just getting a few hours shut-eye is frankly miraculous.

But once you’ve managed to find somewhere to stay try to follow the National Sleep Foundation advice:

•  Avoid stimulants such as coffee and nicotine too close to bedtime, as well as food containing sugar.

•  Take regular exercise during the day – try yoga before bedtime.

• Spend time outdoors – natural light helps your body rhythms

•  Create a relaxing bedtime routine and (though difficult) try not to spend too much time thinking about your troubles before sleep.

It’s sometimes very hard to ‘switch off’ our worries before bedtime. For some, this may seem impossible. One really useful way of doing this is to keep telling yourself you need the sleep to help you to be stronger to deal with things tomorrow. There is nothing you can do about your worries whilst you’re trying to sleep. Some people find it helpful to write the worries down earlier in the evening, close the notebook before bed and then think to themselves: “I'm dealing with that, just not right now.”

Online help...

You can also try some free relaxation techniques, which will help the body and mind.




To contact StreetLink, call 0300 500 0914, visit or download the app.


February 2015



Runaways put at risk

Soup runs told to re-think

Law calls for 'soup menus'

Homelessness past

Housing not voter priority...

Stuck in the system

Protests gather pace

Readers raise their voices

Aussies feel the heat

Homeless busker wows Idol

Recovery from Crisis

Advice: Sleeping soundly

Heartbreak hotel, episode 3.


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