If you find you can’t sleep, this is very common.
Everybody has a hard time falling asleep at some point. Not only can you have a hard time falling asleep, but you can wake up several times during the night and feel fatigued the next day.
When night-time is a struggle and you can’t sleep, you won’t be getting the deep refreshing and restorative sleep that you need. So before the situation gets out of hand and starts affecting your health it is important that you find out what is keeping you awake.
If you can’t sleep review the good sleep expert’s checklist of points below to see if making the recommended changes will help you sleep better.
Can’t sleep checklist
Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine
A glass of wine with dinner is fine, but a couple of nightcaps can disrupt the quality of your sleep and prevent you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep. This may also cause you to wake up in the night.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can last in your body for five to eight hours! Some people can still feel the effects up to 12 hours later. And beware of the hidden caffeine in things such as energy drinks, tea, yogurts and chocolate. Try to stop drinking tea or coffee by lunch-time.
Nicotine stimulates brain activity and increases blood pressure and heart rate and all these factors will stop you getting a good night’s sleep. Studies show that when smokers quit the quality of their sleep improves.
This can also affect your sleep so don’t eat a heavy meal at least 2 hours before bedtime. And if you’re sensitive to tomato products or spicy food, lying down can aggravate heartburn, which can make falling asleep more difficult or wake you up in the middle of the night.
Don’t bring your laptop/smart phone to bed. Not only can it cause stress close to bedtime, research has shown that the blue light emitted from these devices can affect the quality of your sleep.
Exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, but not within three hours of bedtime. Exercise is energizing and raises your body temperature. Try to arrange your workout either in the morning or late afternoon. Exercising later than this (unless it’s for sex) may disturb your sleep..
Do you have a bedtime routine? You need to give your biological clock the right cues for sleeping. Try to get up at roughly the same time every day, whether you still feel tired or not. 90 minutes before bed start calming down in preparation for bedtime. Some quiet time followed by a warm bath or shower with some relaxing music. Climb into a comfortable dark quiet bedroom and wake up refreshed in the morning.
A distracting sleep environment such as a room that’s too noisy or too brightly lit can be a barrier to sound sleep. Interruptions from children or other family members can also disrupt sleep, too many of these interruptions in one night and you may find you can’t sleep.
Uncomfortable in bed
The comfort and size of your bed and the habits of your sleep partner (if you have one) If you have to lie beside someone who has different sleep preferences, snores, can’t fall or stay asleep, or has other sleep difficulties, it often becomes your problem too!
A room that is too hot or too cold will make it harder for you to sleep well; the ideal sleeping temperature for your room should be around 16-18 degrees centigrade. Put some socks on too as warm feet boost your chances of sleeping well.
Mattress and Pillows
Generally, you should replace your mattress every 8-12 years to get the best support and comfort. Check out your pillows as well to make sure they are providing optimum comfort and support. They need changing every 6 months to 3 years!
If you can’t sleep consider checking if you have a broken pillow.
Aches and Pains
Aches and Pains can interfere with your ability to fall or stay asleep. For example, arthritis and other conditions that cause pain, backache, or discomfort can make it difficult to sleep well. For women, pregnancy and hormonal shifts including those that cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menopause and its accompanying hot flashes can also intrude on sleep.
Drugs such as decongestants, steroids and some medicines for high blood pressure, asthma, or depression can cause sleeping difficulties as a side effect.
Your biological clock needs cues from natural light. If you have problems sleeping expose your eyes to daylight for at least 15 minutes ideally first thing in the morning.
Can’t Sleep because of stress
This is a major cause of sleep problems. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. If you are under stress take some time to relax properly before going to bed. If something is troubling you and you can’t sleep, it could be there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow. Stress management techniques during the day, such as relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, journaling, talking to friends and loved ones are also recommended, and if the stress is severe make sure you visit your doctor for advice.
There may be something in your house or in your bedroom which is triggering an allergic reaction that makes it hard for you to sleep; dust mites and household dust are most common. New carpets, new curtains, cleaning sprays, air fresheners and fresh paint release chemical emissions that can also cause problems . Avoidance is always the best treatment for allergies regardless of which allergens are the triggers. Thorough and regular cleaning generally makes a huge difference in keeping your house as mould and dust free as possible.