Advice and support with sleep and tiredness

We all feel tired from time to time. Too many late nights, long hours at work, a baby or child getting you up in the night can leave you feeling grumpy, short-tempered, unable to focus on tasks and lacking in energy. These causes are obvious and such tiredness can be easily remedied by returning to a normal sleep pattern.

But tiredness or exhaustion – TATT (tired all the time) – that goes on for a long time is not normal and can have long term physical and psychological effects.

Unexplained tiredness

What is unexplained tiredness?

Causes of tiredness can be put in three categories:

  • Psychological causes
  • Physical causes
  • Lifestyle causes

Psychological causes of tiredness are very common. These include:

  • Stress
  • Emotional shock, such as bereavement, a relationship break-up, work problems, money worries
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

The mental health page has information, resources and links to support with conditions such as anxiety and depression:

It is less common that your tiredness is caused by a physical health condition, however there are several health conditions that can make you feel tired or exhausted:

Speak to your GP if you have been feeling constantly tired for more than four weeks and think you may have one of these conditions.

Tiredness can also be the result of:

  • pregnancy – particularly in the first 12 weeks
  • being overweight or obese – your body has to work harder to do everyday activities
  • being underweight – poor muscle strength can make you tire more easily
  • cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • side effects of medicines and some herbal remedies

Many of us lead busy lives, balancing work and family life and sometimes neglecting our physical wellbeing as a result. These ‘lifestyle’ causes of tiredness include:

  • Alcohol – whilst it might help you fall to sleep initially, alcohol interferes with the quality of your sleep
  • Exercise – too much or too little can make you tired
  • Caffeine – found in coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks, caffeine is a stimulant and can prevent you from sleeping as well as making you feel wound-up
  • Diet – eating sugary or high-fat snacks can sometimes give us a quick energy boost to get through the day, but sitting down to a balanced healthy meal is much better
  • Working night shifts
  • Daytime naps – this can make it harder to get to sleep at night

Poor sleep

What can I do to improve my sleep?

If you know your tiredness is caused by poor quality of sleep or difficulty getting to sleep, there are lots of resources and tips to help.

Simple tips for better sleep from Every Mind Matters

Ways of getting a better sleep

A easy read PDF guide with tips on ways to get better sleep.

  • Keep to a routine
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks e.g. coffee, tea, green tea, energy drinks and foods, like chocolate
  • Avoid daytime naps, or limit them to between 15 and 20 minutes
  • Leave work outside – don’t be tempted to check your emails in bed
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime
  • Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime

Sleeping tablets (hypnotics) do not tackle the underlying cause of sleeping difficulties. It is best to avoid sleeping tablets if possible, due to the side-effects they can cause and the concern that you could become dependent on them.

  • Try light stretching exercises, such as yoga or Tai-chi before bed
  • Try a warm bath or a shower for relaxation before bedtime
  • Limit exposure to white or blue light close to bedtime (eg electronic devices and LED lights)
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature. Use ear plus and/or an eye mask to help with this.
  • Don’t lie in bed worrying that you can’t fall asleep. Get out of bed and do something you find relaxing until you feel ready to go back to bed.
  • If you get out of bed, keep the lights dim, and avoid blue light exposure.
  • Stop clock watching – set the alarm so you know you will be up in time, then turn it around so that you can’t see the time display.
  • If you have a lot on your mind, jot down your worries on a piece of paper and come back to them in the morning.

Sleeping tablets (hypnotics) do not tackle the underlying cause of sleeping difficulties. It is best to avoid sleeping tablets if possible, due to the side-effects they can cause and the concern that you could become dependent on them.

How to sleep better
A PDF guide to better sleep produced by the Mental Health Foundation

Every Mind Matters – How to fall asleep faster and sleep better

Tips to help you get into a daily routine, manage your worries, prepare your body for sleep, create a restful environment, confront sleeplessness and find further support.

If you regularly experience any of the following, they could be signs that your sleep health is impaired and you should seek medical support.

  • Work-related mistakes
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Extreme irritability
  • Strong emotional reactions
  • Drowsy driving

Other signs include loud snoring, apnoea, restless legs or periodic leg movements close to bedtime.

Relaxation techniques

How can I help myself to relax ready for sleep?

There are many ways to relax physically and mentally. The most important thing is that you take the time to explore and discover what works best for you.

Here are some everyday ways to relax and release stress and tension from the mind and body:

  • Talking  – talking to trusted family and friends makes us feel safe, assured and helps us to process challenging things that may have happened during the day.
  • Chewing gum or sucking boiled sweets – this can release a rewarding feeling in the brain, but go for sugar free options to protect your teeth.
  • Bath or shower – having a warm (but not too hot) bath or shower at the end of the day relieves muscle tension and encourages better sleep.
  • Fragrances or aromas – some people find lavender relaxing and soothing. Fragrances can also evoke memories of happy or peaceful places.
  • Stroke your pet – this is proven to reduce stress levels and increases the bond between you and your pet – as long as they like it too!
  • Gardening – beneficial in many ways: getting out into nature, fresh air and light, releasing seratonin and endorphins, gentle exercise.
  • Listening to soothing music – this can help you to slow your breathing and relax before bed. It can also be used throughout the day whilst doing other tasks to improve mindfulness and lower cortisol levels.
  • Laughter and smiling – scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, this could be watching a comedy, listening to a funny podcast or remembering funny occasions.

‘Mitchell Method’ of physiological relaxation
A technique of relaxing the whole, or parts of your body. Once learnt and practised, it can be used easily and anywhere to relax and reduce the muscle tension produced by stress.

NHS breathing exercises for stress
Learn this calming breathing technique for reducing stress, anxiety and panic – takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.

NHS guide to yoga
All you need to know to get started with yoga, including the health benefits, yoga styles for beginners and finding a yoga class.

Visualisation to reduce anxiety
Visualisation is a powerful technique that can help you unwind and relieve stress. It involves using mental imagery to achieve a more relaxed state of mind.

NHS Inform relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques you can use to calm the mind and reduce the muscle tension anxiety can cause.

Mindful Minutes
100,000 free guided meditations.

Meditation – Insight Timer
100,000 free guided meditations.

NHS mindfulness
Pay more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – to improve your mental wellbeing.

The good sleep Guide

What is the good sleep guide?

If you have problems getting to sleep, the good sleep guide can help improve your sleep pattern.

  • Put the day to rest. Think it through. Tie up “loose ends” in your mind and plan ahead. A notebook may help.
  • Take some light exercise early in the evening. Generally try to keep yourself fit.
  • Wind down during the course of the evening. Do not do anything that is mentally demanding within 90 minutes of bedtime.
  • Do not sleep or doze in the armchair. Keep your sleep for bedtime.
  • Do not drink too much coffee or tea and only have a light snack for supper. Do not drink alcohol to aid your sleep – it usually upsets sleep.
  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable – not too cold and not too warm.
  • Go to bed when you are “sleepy tired” and not before.
  • Do not read or watch TV in bed. Keep these activities for another room.
  • Set the alarm for the same time everyday, seven days a week, at least until your sleep pattern settles down.
  • Put the light out when you get into bed.
  • Let yourself relax and tell yourself that “sleep will come when it’s ready”. Enjoy relaxing even if you don’t at first fall asleep.
  • Do not try to fall asleep. Sleep is not something you can switch on deliberately, but if you try to switch it on you can switch it off!
  • Remember that sleep problems are quite common and they are not as damaging as you might think. Try not to get upset or frustrated.
  • If you are awake in bed for more than 20 minutes then get up and go into another room.
  • Do something relaxing for a while and don’t worry about tomorrow. People usually cope quite well even after a sleepless night.
  • Go back to bed when you feel “sleepy tired”
  • Remember the tips from the section above and use them again.

A good sleep pattern may take a number of weeks to establish. Be confident that you will achieve this in the end by working through the “THE GOOD SLEEP GUIDE”!

Sleeping tablets (hypnotics) do not tackle the underlying cause of sleeping difficulties. It is best to avoid sleeping tablets if possible, due to the side-effects they can cause and the concern that you could become dependent on them.

The good relaxation guide

What is the good relaxation guide?

The good relaxation guide can help you dealing with tension, worry and difficult situations.

  • Value times of relaxation. Think of them of essentials not extras. Give relaxation some of your best time not just what is left over.
  • Build relaxing things into your lifestyle everyday and take your time. Don’t rush. Don’t try too hard.
  • Learn a relaxation routine, but don’t expect to learn without practice.
  • There are many relaxation routines available, especially on audiotape. These help you to reduce muscle tension and to learn how to use your breathing to help you relax.
  • Tension can show in many different ways –aches, stiffness, heart racing, perspiration, stomach churning etc. Don’t be worried by this.
  • Keep fit. Physical exercise, such as a brisk walk or a swim can help relieve tension.
  • Accept that worry can be normal and this is can sometimes be useful. Some people worry more than others but everyone worries sometimes.
  • Write down your concerns. Decide which ones are more important by rating each out of ten.
  • Work out a plan of action for each problem.
  • Share your worries. Your friends or your general practitioner can give you helpful advice.
  • Doing crosswords, reading, taking up a hobby or an interest can all keep your mind active and positive.
  • You can block out worrying thoughts by mentally repeating a comforting phrase.
  • Practice enjoying quiet moments, e.g sitting listening to relaxing music. Allow your mind to wander and try to picture yourself in pleasant, enjoyable situations.
  • Try to build up your confidence. Try not to avoid circumstances where you feel more anxious. A step-by-step approach is best to help you face things and places which make you feel tense. Regular practice will help you overcome your anxiety.
  • Make a written plan and decide how you are going to deal with difficult situations.
  • Reward yourself for your successes. Tell others. We all need encouragement.
  • Your symptoms may return as you face up to difficult situations. Keep trying and they should become less troublesome as your confidence grows.
  • Everyone has good days and bad days. Expect to have more good days as time goes on.

Try to put together a programme based on all of the elements in the “The Good Relaxation Guide” that will meet the needs of your particular situation.

Local advice and support in Rotherham

Kooth is a free, safe and anonymous online mental wellbeing community for people aged 11-25. Whether you are looking for advice or simply not feeling your best, Kooth offers a range of features and support tools.

0800 074 5560 (confidential)

Monday to Friday, 9am–5.30pm
Online service

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological therapy that helps you spot how some of your thoughts affect your actions and feelings and teaches you about ways in which you can improve how you feel day-to-day.

With Ieso you will work 1:1 with your therapist online, but the conversation is typed instead of spoken. It’s exactly like chatting via a messenger service with friends. You don’t need to be brilliant at spelling or worry about using the correct grammar. Online CBT has been shown to be just as effective as face-to-face, and many people find it less daunting and easier to be open.

Ieso is working in partnership with the NHS in Rotherham. To be eligible for online CBT on the NHS you must be aged 18 or over and registered with a GP in Rotherham.

National support organisations

Who do I talk to if I can’t sleep? The National Sleep Helpline can help with your sleep problems.
If you’d like to talk about your sleep, you can call between 7pm and 9pm, Sunday to Tuesday and Thursday and Wednesday, 9am – 11am.

Contact number: 03303 530541

Sleep resource apps

The Pzizz app helps you quickly calm your mind, fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed. It uses “dreamscapes” – a mix of music, voiceovers and sound effects designed using the latest clinical research – to help you sleep better at night or take power naps during the day.


Sleepstation is a 6-week online course for people who struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. The course is tailored to your needs and gives you access to a team of sleep experts who will offer helpful advice and support throughout. Register online.

Rotherhive is not responsible for content on websites or apps mentioned on the site. Always read the app’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy to see how your data may be used.

RotherHive is developed by Rotherham Place Partnership

© Copyright Rotherham Place Partnership (Previously NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group) 2024