What can friends and family do to help?

This section is for friends and family who want to support someone they know with a sleep problem.

If your friend or family member is sleeping badly, this can have a significant impact on mood and energy levels. They may become irritable or withdrawn. This can be difficult for friends and family and have an impact on your relationship with the person.

There are no right or wrong ways to deal with this, but there are some things you could try to help:

  • Help to create a relaxing sleep environment. If you sleep in the same bedroom or house, avoid making noise or turning on the light at night, and try to keep the bedroom calm and tidy
  • Think about whether you may be contributing to the problem. If you snore, or if you wake and go to bed at different times each day, this may have an impact on others
  • Try to resolve any issues that you might be causing, such as seeking help for a snoring problem, or getting ready for work in another room if you work night shifts
  • Offer practical support, such as offering to help with household chores to relieve stress, or sleeping in a different room for a few nights to allow them to catch up on sleep
  • Try to be patient and understanding.  If someone is irritable because of a lack of sleep, this can cause misunderstandings and disagreements, so you may need to be more tolerant than usual
  • Encourage them to identify and deal with the cause of the problem by talking to them about what might be causing the sleep problem
  • Encourage them to work out positive strategies to deal with their sleep problem (see ‘Helping yourself’ and ‘Treatments’)
  • Support them in their attempts  to make positive changes, such as being encouraging and supportive if they are trying a new exercise programme, or allowing them some quiet time to carry out a relaxation routine before bed
  • Encourage them to seek help. If poor sleep is affecting your friend or family member’s mental health or starting to have a significant impact on their daily life, encourage them to seek appropriate help (see ‘Treatments’)
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