We all feel better after a good night’s sleep, but it can be surprisingly difficult to achieve sometimes. Sleeping problems can range from having the odd bad night or being a restless sleeper to chronic insomnia. Difficulty sleeping is often caused by stress and then becomes a source of stress in itself. A downward spiral develops, in which we are so stressed about not being able to sleep it makes us less able to sleep. Bad sleep patterns can also be made worse by staying in bed late in the morning after a bad night. Breaking a bad sleeping cycle isn’t easy, but it is possible. It takes time and often a number of behaviour changes to get into good sleeping habits. The ten tips below have all been shown to help to improve sleep problems and are easy to implement.
Why do we need to sleep?
So far, research has failed to come up with a clear answer to this. What we do know is how a bad night affects us. All of these are common after not having enough sleep:
· Feeling irritable
· Making mistakes and/or having poor judgement
· Slow reactions
· Poor concentration
· Memory problems
· Difficulty with problem solving and reasoning
· Feeling drowsy
What counts as a sleep problem?
Ideally, we fall asleep within half an hour of going to bed, sleep well and wake up refreshed. Not everyone has the same sleep problems, but the following are common ones:
· Taking a long time to go to sleep after going to bed
· Waking in the night and not being able to go back to sleep
· Not having adequate deep sleep
· Being too easily disturbed
10 things you can do to help with sleep problems
#1 Get up and go to bed at the same time each day
This helps to train your body clock to sleep at the right time. Although it’s tempting to sleep in late if you’ve had a bad night, it just disrupts your sleep patterns even more.
#2 Don’t lay awake for more than 20 minutes
It’s frustrating to lie in bed unable to sleep, which makes us stressed and upset. This makes falling asleep even less likely. After about 20 minutes of not be able to sleep, get up and do a quiet activity such as reading. Keep the light low and avoid screen activities (TV, phone, laptop etc.).
#3 Try to spend time outdoors every day
Spending time outside is good for stress relief and helps us to feel positive. Better mental health usually means better sleep patterns
#4 Cut down on the amount of time you’re spending in bed
Even if you have bad sleeping problems, you will be getting a few hours sleep at night. If you go to bed later and get up earlier, you are likely to still get these same few hours sleep. This means that you’ll be spending more of your time in bed actually sleeping, which will lead to feeling less stressed about sleeping. It also creates a more positive attitude towards being in bed, because you associate it with sleeping, rather than hours of wakefulness. As your sleep quality improves, you can gradually extend the time you’re spending in bed.
#5 Reduce your stress and anxiety during the day
This is easier said than done, but there are things you can try to help you be calmer. Being more relaxed during the day will lead to better sleep at night. See “How to be more relaxed” for more on this.
# 6 Stay calm about your insomnia
Remind yourself that your body can get by on a few hours sleep and that research has shown that people spend longer asleep than they think. Getting upset about the problem is only going to make it worse.
#7 Have a positive attitude after bad nights
It’s often not just the lack of sleep itself that affects people badly. Worrying about losing sleep and the negative effects that will have makes the problem much worse. Rather than focusing on how tired you feel, try to focus on other things.
#8 Avoid alcohol & caffeine close to bedtime
These things are stimulants and will keep you awake.
#9 Regular massage for sleep problems
Massage can help break the cycle, not only by leaving you more relaxed, but also because it stimulates the production of the hormone serotonin. Serotonin plays a part in healthy sleep patterns. This is because as well as having a calming effect, serotonin is essential for the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Read about the “Sleep well” treatment here.
#10 Have a relaxing “wind down” time before you go to bed
This should be time spent away from screens, including phones and should be a stress free time, doing something you find calming.
Book a massage to help with sleep problems
Fill out the enquiry form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with available appointments. Any of the treatments in the drop down menu will help with relaxation and serotonin production, as described in #9 above. If you’re interested in aromatherapy massage, you can book here. You can also contact me to book using any of the contact details below the form:
Phone: 07835 346476