Having trouble falling asleep at night? You are not alone. Tension, anxiety and stress can wreak havoc on our ability to enjoy a good night’s sleep. We all know that getting 8 hours of sleep is recommended for being mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. We also know that sleep organizes our thoughts and memories, improves concentration and increases our learning ability. Too many restless nights can result in serious issues that can turn our lives upside down if left untreated.
What are some of the more common signs of sleep deprivation?
- Trouble waking up in the morning
- Decreased performance at work, sports, school
- Increasing clumsiness
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Feeling tired and lackluster throughout the day
- Moody, depressed, irritated, lack of focus
Certainly, for those who have a chronic sleep disorder, a visit to your general practitioner is advisable. However, for those who choose to pursue this problem on their own, here are some helpful hints to try and get some ‘shut eye’ naturally.
Sleep in a room that is completely void of any light. Even a tiny amount of light can interrupt a good night’s sleep.
Remember when we were young and had a set bedtime each night? Try and bring back those days and go to bed at the same time every night. Your body will eventually recognize, accept and welcome this routine.
Sleeping in a room that is too warm won’t allow your body and brain to cool down which is exactly what it wants to do at bedtime. However, being too cold can disrupt sleep as well, so find a comfortable, cooler temperature to encourage a good night’s rest.
Avoid food, caffeine, and alcohol
Well, at least prior to bedtime! Foods high in calories, too much alcohol (which only leads to night sweats and a big headache in the morning) and caffeine (does this need an explanation? But avoid it for at least 5 hours before bedtime) can cause too much activity within your body that can lead to interrupted and restless sleep.
Prepare for bed
An hour before bedtime, turn off your computer, put away work projects, switch off the television and prepare for bedtime. Much like you plan your day each morning, take some time to get ready for bed. Enjoy a nice warm (not hot!) and soothing bath, maybe with some aromatherapy candles or oils conducive to sleeping, such as lavender, marjoram or chamomile. Put on comfortable pajamas and go directly to bed. Meditate, count backwards or even sheep (yes, it does work). Don’t entertain any negative thoughts. Breathe in and out slowly.
For many, reading before bedtime is a necessary ritual. If so, then read a peaceful book. Some even suggest a boring book. When you feel tired, put the book down and settle into a comfortable position.
Finally, if you wake up in the middle of the night, with your mind and heart racing, relax your breathing by taking in deep breaths. Think of comforting thoughts, a happy memory or perhaps a relaxing location, such as a favourite beach. Avoid turning on the television or getting up and having something to eat. Keep your mind focused on soothing feelings.
Remember, don’t expect immediate results. Stressing over a peaceful night’s sleep is asking for trouble. Be objective and know when to get medical help if the problem persists.