How to Wake Up in a Good Place: Dr Alex George's Top 9 Tips for Better Sleep & Mental Health

Posted by Dr Alex George on 6th Oct 2021

How to Wake Up in a Good Place: Dr Alex George's Top 9 Tips for Better Sleep & Mental Health

Sleep and mental health are interconnected. In fact, getting good, quality sleep is one of the best things you can do to protect your health, both physically and mentally. But is there anything we can do to sleep better? Let’s ask Dr Alex George!

Dr Alex George: Love Island contestant and mental health advocate

Dr Alex George is a TV and A&E doctor, as well as a podcaster and social media influencer. He first shot to fame after appearing on the popular TV show Love Island back in 2018. Since then, he has been a passionate advocate for mental health and wellness.

Alongside this, Dr Alex is a resident presenter on ITV’s Lorraine and has appeared on programmes such as Watchdog and Celebrity MasterChef. He has also worked on campaigns with charities such as YoungMinds, to lobby the government to change policy and ensure mental health gets onto the curriculum in schools. [1]

9 tips for improving your mental health and sleep

It’s safe to say that Dr Alex knows a thing or two about mental health and wellbeing and in this article, he shares his expert tips for better sleep and mental health:

1. Follow your passions

Dr Alex George says: When was the last time that you did something that you enjoyed for yourself like reading your favourite book or picking up an instrument or investing in your hobbies and interests? Making time for things that you love is vital for your happiness and health.”

Having a source of fun in your life can help to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed with everything else. This can help you become less reactive to stress when it does come along, meaning that you can deal with it without it becoming too much for you. [2]

Scheduling in some time for a relaxing activity that you love before bedtime will also help you to switch off from the day’s stresses before you get into bed.

2. Move more

Dr Alex George says: Human beings are not designed to be sat in one place and sedentary. Not only is movement important for our body, including cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, it is great for the brain too. Movement increases blood flow to the brain, improving a sense of clarity, focus and attention. It’s great for an endorphin hit too.”

Movement triggers the production of hormones serotonin and endorphins and both of these make us feel good. The stress hormone, cortisol, is released when we move and studies show that movement helps to reduce feelings of anxiety. [3]

To get more movement into your day, try to take a five minute break from whatever you’re doing each hour. Try walking around or even have a little dance if you fancy it!

3. Eating well

Dr Alex George says: Eat well to feel good. For a long time, we’ve talked about nutrition in terms of physical health but let's not forget the benefits for the mind too. Many of the building blocks for serotonin, one of our most important mood hormones, is found in our gut. Nurturing a healthy gut with a balanced diet is super important for this process to take place. Think of food as fuel for both the body and the mind.”

The NHS recommends that a healthy diet should include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, meals that are based on high fibre, starchy foods like potatoes or pasta, some dairy, some protein and at least six glasses of water each day. [4]

Bensons for Beds’ recent study into the nation’s sleep habits ( showed that one in 10 people who are lacking in sleep have put on weight so sleep and diet are intrinsically connected.

4. Exercising regularly

Dr Alex George says: Exercise is amazing for our physical health and our mind. When we go for that run, swim, or yoga class, we get a lovely endorphin hit. In nature, endorphins are released during exercise as a natural pain relief, but it also has lovely side effects, giving us euphoria and boosting our mood.”

Research has shown that even a short 10-minute burst of brisk walking activity can increase mental alertness and increase our positivity. [5]

The secret to regular exercise is finding something that you love to do. It doesn’t always have to be knocking out the press ups or pounding the pavements. Try taking a relaxing yoga class or heading out on a walk in nature instead.

5. Nurture healthy relationships

Dr Alex George says: “Having healthy relationships, both romantic and otherwise, is vital for our well-being. Surround yourself with people who reflect who you are and who you want to be, people who support you and are always with you.”

Human beings are naturally social creatures, we’re supposed to interact with others. [6] Having healthy relationships, both romantic and otherwise, is vital for our wellbeing.

Loneliness can have a huge impact on your mental health. It can lead to unhealthy sleep patterns and increase the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body. It can also lead to depression. [7]

Surround yourself with people who have a positive impact on your life and who support you, no matter what you’re going through. In the same vein, have the confidence to end relationships that have a negative effect on your life.

If you don’t feel like you have these important connections, then try to get yourself out and meet new people. Join hobby groups in your local area, take up a class or do some volunteering.

6. Get out into nature

Dr Alex George says: Stay in touch with nature. Being in nature has been shown to reduce anxiety, promote a sense of calm and improve creativity, all of which is great for our mental health. Whether you are in the city and you have a local park, or you live in the countryside, make time for that daily stomp.”

Make time each day to head outside for a walk in your local area, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. If there are no trails near where you live then head to your local park or green space instead.

Go before work, on your lunch break, or even once you finish work during the summer months.

7. Do something creative

Dr Alex George says: Creativity is brilliant for being present and calming the mind. Whether its painting, writing, playing music or just working on your favourite colouring book, engaging this part of your brain is hugely beneficial to overall well-being.”

Creative activities are often calming for both the brain and the body, in a similar way that meditation does. Concentrating on something creative can also help to focus the mind. It is thought that creativity can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. [8]

Again, doing something creative before bed can help your brain to switch off from anything you’ve been worrying about during the day and get you ready to sleep soundly all night.

If you’re new to creating, don’t worry, there are lots of activities to choose from. Try painting, writing, playing an instrument or even adult colouring.

8. Connect with people more

Dr Alex George says: No I don’t just mean online, meaningful connections with the people you care about matters. When was the last time you went to the cinema with your best friend, hung out with your family, or binged Netflix with a mate? - make time for the people you love!”

Not only do strong connections help to reduce feelings of loneliness but they can also offer us support, providing a shoulder to lean on and someone to talk to about our problems. After all, the old adage a problem shared is a problem halved is true.

Having great friends can also help to increase a sense of belonging, improve self-confidence and help to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. [9]

9. Take a digital detox

Dr Alex George says: Create boundaries around your social media use. A good example is keeping your phone away from your bed at night, preventing you from that mindless scrolling at midnight when you should be sleeping - we’ve all been there!”

Being constantly connected online can be exhausting. With your phone constantly going off with email notifications and social media updates, keeping up with everything can feel like a full-time job.

And don’t even get us started on the comparisons that you can make when you see others on social media! Sometimes it seems as if everyone has a better car/house/life (delete as appropriate) than you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all then it might be time for you to set some boundaries around your social media use. Try only checking your phone at certain times during the day, or taking a couple of days away from Instagram.