Can’t sleep?

Not being able to sleep is exhausting! It can make you

  • really irritable and sometimes a bit depressed
  • not able to concentrate
  • eat rubbish food
  • be moody with your friends and family
  • not enjoy activities in the day so much

Let me introduce myself

Hi, I’m Cath and I’m a School Nurse.

I work for the NHS and visit schools every week to talk to and support young people with lots of different issues (it’s confidential, that means I won’t tell anyone what we have talked about, unless I am worried for your safety or someone else’s).

Meet Clara

I met Clara (not her real name) in the Young Person’s Health Hub that I run every week in her High School.

Clara looked really tired. She told me she was not sleeping as she was worried about her exams.

Being worried and not sleeping were making her stress levels go sky high.

We had a chat

I listened to her and then we talked about things which might help her.

Clara told me that she does her homework and revises on her bed, then will go on her phone to chat to her friends, usually falling asleep while she is still dressed, phone in hand.

We talked about the importance of a bedtime routine.

  • I explained to Clara about the importance of switching off and winding down.
  • We agreed that she would try and do her school work sat at her desk so that her bed was just a place for sleeping in the night.
  • Once she had finished her work and had a quick chat with her friends online she was going to turn her phone off and put it in a drawer in her desk. Having time away from screens at least 30 minutes before you go to bed really helps.

She was then going to have a relaxing bath or a nice shower,

  • put on her pyjamas
  • maybe have a little snack or a glass of milk
  • then wind down.

She said she often wakes in the night worrying about things and then can’t get back off to sleep.

We talked about how writing things down or keeping a diary before she goes to bed might help her get rid of the thoughts so she can relax.

We talked about mindfulness, doing things that take your mind off your thoughts.

There are lots of apps online like Headspace and Calm that Clara said she would try.

She also said she liked some classical music, so said she would try putting that on to help her relax.

What do I do?

I told Clara about something I do when I can’t sleep which helps me that is really simple.

I get myself comfy in bed and make sure I am relaxed. I then count down slowly from 10 to 0, breathing in and out slowly, concentrating on my breath – I am usually asleep by 5!

She said she would give it a go.

How did it go?

I saw Clara again in school a couple of weeks later. She said her sleep had improved.

She was doing the bedtime routine and getting off to sleep ok but then was waking up in the night and finding it hard to go back to sleep as she was still worrying about her exams.

What else could she do?

I advised Clara to talk to her teachers about her worries, maybe see if they could help her devise a revision timetable to help her manage her work.

Clara said that she used to enjoy running but hadn’t done it much lately as she was so busy with school work.

We talked about how going for a run would really help her as

  • it would help her to forget about her exams and de-stress
  • she would feel energised and positive after her run
  • doing something that she enjoys is really important for her mental health
  • it would make her more tired and hopefully help her sleep.

Clara said she would try and get back into running as she could see it would really help her.

I told Clara I could see her again in the future in school if she wanted to.

I also told her about Chat Health, the anonymous, confidential text service that is run by Cardiff and Vale School Nurses.

Young people aged 11 to 19 years old can text in on 07520 615718 Monday to Friday 0830 to 1630 if they need support and advice on any issues affecting their physical or mental health.

Sleep is important for your physical and mental health.

If you are having problems sleeping, check out our resources or ask to speak to your School Nurse in school.