Insomnia and a key to a good nights sleep

Having trouble getting to sleep once you hit the sack at night? Losing several hours of precious sleep and as a result finding it hard to concentrate and feeling ill and fatigued during the day? With 1 in 3 people being affected by at least some mild form of insomnia Advice For All take a look at what's causing many of us to be losing several hours of shut eye!

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Insomnia and Difficulties Sleeping

Poor Sleep Habits are a Lead Cause in Insomnia

Research has shown that 1 in 3 people are affected by at least some form of mild insomnia. However in a lot of cases poor sleep can be put down to poor sleeping habits that people have developed and a change in these bad habit could result in a peaceful nights sleep for many.

It’s perfectly normal to have trouble sleeping once in awhile, however, when it becomes a regular issue and starts interfering with your day to day life that’s when we have a real problem with insomnia.

Insomnia can have a huge impact on both our emotional, mental and physical health. You may find that concentrating becomes extremely difficult and you start feeling terribly rough and fatigued on a day to day basis with splitting headaches.

The truth is insomnia can normally be prevented by making changes to some poor sleeping habits so let’s work out what the problem may be, how you can fix it and get a good nights worth of shut-eye!

The Need For Sleeping Medication

It’s important to note that sometimes even with good sleeping habits you may still have difficulty sleeping. In cases where you’re being affected by chronic insomnia and you’ve tried everything below it is best you consult your GP, Doctor or medical professional for further advice.

There are some medicines or medical conditions such as asthma or blood pressure issues that may be preventing you from getting a good nights sleep, if this is the case you will need medical attention to help you get settled so you can sleep well in the future.

Severe depression or grief can also cause severe insomnia where changes to sleeping habits won’t help you sleep. If this is the case with yourself, you may wish to speak to a medical professional who may be able to prescribe you some medication to help you sleep.

WARNING: Sleeping pills should not be a long term solution. Taking them regularly will build up and immunity and you may experience further trouble sleeping.

In the vast majority of cases, however, poor sleeping habits is the root cause to most people’s insomnia issues and a few simple changes to night time routines could insure you get the restful night’s sleep you deserve.

What are good sleep habits?

Good sleep habits, also known as good sleep hygiene are routines and things that can be done to improve your sleep. A lot of these things may seem like common sense but with the everyday drama of real life we sometimes forget the most basic things, we’ll have a look at some good sleep habits and things you can do to ensure you get a good night’s kip!

Routine, Routine, Routine!

We can’t stress this enough, going to bed each night is really important! The body has an internal clock and hormones that control both sleepiness and wakefulness. Having a good sleep routine ensures that your body clock can work to the best of it’s abilities.

We know a regular routine can be difficult for people who work shift patterns or have other life issues that prevent them from having a regular routine but there are still things that you can routinely do before bed to ensure you give yourself the best chance at having a good nights sleep.

Avoid going to sleep too early as this can mess your sleeping pattern up. Have a nice warm bath or shower before bed followed by a warm malted drink or milk and always go to the toilet before you go to bed, this will reduce the amount of times you wake in the night for the toilet.

Lay of the Coffee & The Food

Not just coffee but all caffeine products. Things like colas and soft drinks and certain food products may contain caffeine. All caffeine should be avoided up to 4 hours before you decide to go to bed, this will give you the best chance of having a good nights sleep.

It’s vital that at bed time you don’t feel too hungry however going to bed on a full tummy is known to make it more difficult to get off to sleep and can cause digestion problems. It’s advisable to not eat anything 2 hours before going to bed, if you’re really hungry a light snack before bed is OK.

Booze, Cigs & Drugs

None of these things before bed are good for you. We’ve all heard the expression “having a night cap” but seriously alcohol really doesn’t help you sleep. While it may get you off to sleep rather quickly it will cause you to have a restless sleep, wake throughout the night and wake earlier in the morning.

Alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs will mess with your sleeping. They can cause or make worse snoring, sleep apnea and other problems. Try to avoid taking any of these things a good few hours before bed time and you should see the quality of your sleep improve.

Relax & Tone It Down

At least an hour or so before you go to bed you really want to tone things down. Using a computer, watching TV, exercising or any other activities that are mentally or physically stimulating will make it more difficult to get off to sleep once you hit the sack.

While exercise should be avoided before bed make room for exercise during the day this will tire your body and mind out and make it more likely that you’ll be ready for a good nights sleep later on in the evening.

Some people say a bit of hanky panky (sex) helps you sleep better. While this is true for some it may not be the case for others. If you find that regular bedtime sex is causing you sleep problems and you can’t get to sleep afterward, it may be better to re-schedule!

Another good habit is an hour before bedtime, try and read a book in bed. This will help your mind wind down and get you ready to sleep. If you find that this just stimulates your mind too much though you can skip this step.

Help I can’t shut off my mind!

Some people have difficulty closing their thoughts off when they go to bed. If you have a stressful job or a job with a lot of responsibilities or have other problematic circumstances or stress to deal with within your life you may find that it’s difficult to close off your mind and go to sleep.

One thing that we recommend is setting a time within the evening before bedtime to either discuss, write down or think through the problems, stress’ or drama within your head. This will help get it off your mind and chest so that you can forget about it and have a peaceful nights sleep. Set aside an hour or so before bedtime so you can truly discuss it in depth and lay to rest anything that is troubling you.

Do this before bed on a regular basis and you’ll get your mind used to the fact that once bed time arrives it’s winding down time and your mind will be trained to turn off more naturally.

Bedroom Environment

It’s important that your bedroom if comfortable for you. Make sure you bed and mattress is right and ensure the temperature of the room is ok for you. If it’s too hot consider opening a window or buying a fan, if it’s too cold consider turning the heating on a little or investing in an electric blanket.

There should be no distractions in your bedroom, your room should be free of a television, radio, computer or any other things that will distract you from having a good nights sleep. Stay off your phone and if you can’t remove any of the above appliances ensure that they are fully turned off.

Ensure that the lighting is right in your bedroom for you. Ideally no light will be best BUT if you find that you need some light ensure it’s as dimly lit as possible.

What should I do if I can’t get off to sleep?

Sleep is not something that you can force to happen. If you are not asleep within 20 to 30 minutes of going to bed you should get up. Go to another darkened room and sit quietly. Do not watch television, use a computer, eat, drink or do household chores. When you feel tired again go back to bed. This helps your mind link bed with sleep – not with being unhappy and not sleeping.

Do not look at the clock because no matter what time it is you will have an emotional reaction. Rest is good – it does not have to be sleep. Don’t label yourself as an insomniac.

Remember if you’ve tried all of this and it’s not working no matter how many times you’ve tried you just can’t seem to get at least 8 hours of healthy sleep per night, it’s probably best to consult the advice of a medical professional.

Insomnia Forums:

You can discuss sleep issues and insomnia on our Mental Health and Wellbeing Forums.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Suffering from Insomnia? What has helped you get a good nights sleep, what do you find useful to making sure you have at least 8 hours of sleep?

  2. Just some additional notes I thought were useful and could be included:

    Sleeping immediately after a meal is hazardous to health as it can result in weight addition. It can also cause heartburn due to excess stomach acid. This answers in a burning sensation which spreads from stomach to chest.

    Sleeping immediately after sleep can increase the chances of stroke. Hence, it is highly recommendable to take a break after meals and avoid immediate sleeping.

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