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Struggle to fall asleep night after night?
Wake up in the early hours and just can’t nod off again?
Simply don’t feel refreshed when you get up in the morning?
It could be that you are suffering from insomnia, which is thought to affect up to one in every three people in the UK at some point.
There are no official statistics to suggest how much sleep adults need because we are all different but the suggested average is between seven to nine hours. It can be detrimental to get caught up with numbers because the main thing is getting enough good quality sleep so that you don’t feel constantly tired throughout the day.
We all have the odd night of bad sleep, maybe when we are stressed, anxious or excited this doesn’t cause serious problems, but persistent insomnia can affect all aspects of your life, from your energy levels, appetite, mood and relationships.
Signs that you might have insomnia include:
- difficultly falling asleep
- waking up several times during the night
- lying awake for long periods at night
- waking up early in the early hours and not being able to go back to sleep
- not feel refreshed when you get up
- feeling constantly tired and irritable in the day and unable to concentrate
This can be caused by many factors, including stress and anxiety, an uncomfortable bed, a bedroom that’s too light, noisy, hot or cold. Lifestyle factors like shift work, jet lag, drinking alcohol or caffeine before going to bed can also play a part.
Mental and health physical conditions, as well as some medications, can also interfere with sleep on a long-term basis.
Whatever the cause, it can be frustrating but there are ways to deal with insomnia.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and large meals late in the evening.
- Just like with children, set a bedtime and stick to it and do the same with waking – even at the weekend.
- Relax before you go to bed and turn off all devices and TVs.
- Get an alarm clock rather than using your mobile phone to wake you up as having it on can distract you.
- Have a relaxing, warm bath before bed and add lavender oil to the water as this essential oil can aid sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, clean and the temperature is set correctly.
- Use thick curtains or black out blinds in your bedroom so that the least amount of sunlight is let in.
- Try an eye mask or ear plugs if you get woken often by noise.
- You might be tired but try not to sleep in the day.
- Write a list of worries, if you have any, so they are down on paper and not in your head. Look at areas in your life that are bothering you and getting you down and maybe find ways to deal with them.
- If you really cannot sleep, get up, have a warm drink in low lighting.
- We know we make it sound easy but try to relax and don’t get stressed about not sleeping as this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of misery.
If things don’t settle down, go to see your GP who will try to help identify and treat any underlying health condition, such as anxiety, that may be causing your sleep problems and then look at other changes that can be made.