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Struggling to sleep? How can I cope with it?

Are you struggling with getting to sleep? You are not alone because approximately 1/3 people suffer with insomnia. This article will cover the basics of what insomnia is and how to combat it with small changes to your daily routine.

So, what exactly is insomnia? Insomnia is basically an “inability to sleep”. This could be struggling to get to sleep (onset insomnia) and/or struggling to stay asleep (maintenance insomnia). Many people will struggle with insomnia at some point in their lives; possibly because of a stressful life event or period of ill health.

Symptoms:

  find it difficult to fall asleep

  lie awake for long periods at night

  wake up several times during the night

  wake up early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep

  not feel refreshed when you get up

  find it hard to nap during the day, despite feeling tired

  feel tired and irritable during the day and have difficulty concentrating

 

So, the fact you’re reading this blog, then I assume that you or someone you know is struggling with sleep. Without further ado, here are some basic interventions you can do to help.

Sleep hygiene is the principle of setting good daily practices that enable our bodies to wind down at the end of a day to sleep.

Here are some good sleep hygiene tips:

  • Avoid napping in the day. (This can be really tricky when you’re already tired after a bad night, but trust me it’s worth it).
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages (Tea, coffee, energy drinks) in the later part of the day. Caffiene can stay in our system for …. Hours! Infact, even better, detox from all caffeine and drink decaff.
  • Exercise! A morning jog/workout followed by a nice hot shower can make you feel refreshed for the day and will help you to sleep at night. However, avoid strenuous exercise just before bed as it can be too stimulating for the brain.
  • Avoid large meals just before bed! Our body will try and digest this which might keep you awake.
  • Get into a habit of a nice warm milky drink or herbal tea. Avoid hot chocolate (chocolate contains caffeine). Horlicks malt drinks are really nice and I’d recommend, or a herbal tea that contains valerian or chamomile.
  • Hot shower/bath an hour or so before bed. When the body gets really hot, then begins to cool down this is what can make you feel sleepy. However, don’t do this right before bed as the heat can make you feel alert!
  • Have a productive day – venture outside! Having adequate exposure to daylight during the day helps set our natural body rhythm. Then in the evening, dim any really bright lights to prepare yourself for sleep.
  • Turn off your phone/ipad/laptop at least 2 hours before bed. I know, this is really tough in our digitally obsessed world. However, the LED screen and the bright colours stimulate our brains. Definitely not good if you struggle with sleep.
  • Speaking of texting or messenger – avoid emotional conversations just before bed. Last thing you want is an adrenaline rush. What’s the worst that can happen if you get back to someone in the morning? You’re sleep and health is far more important I’m sure.
  • Read before bed or listen to soothing music. This is far more beneficial than candy crush. No harsh lights that stimulate your brain, and reading can only make you smarter… Right?
  • If you’re a student – don’t use your bed to do work in! If you’re the type of person who types up essays in bed- stop doing this now. You want to condition your brain to think that bed means sleep – not studying.
  • Invest in black out blinds or a sleep mask if you have those nasty new bright streetlamps outside your window…
  • Earplugs are a godsend if noise is waking you up. However, just make sure your alarm is really loud to avoid sleeping in. Or get someone to wake you up as you try out earplugs if you are worried of sleeping through your alarm.
  • Make sure your mattress is comfy cosy, and ensure you have enough bedding to keep you warm.
  • Try putting lavender oil on your pillow. It smells nice and will help you to relax.
  • Stop worrying at night… Wait for next weeks blog where I cover this in more detail. Basically, worrying is NOT going to help you solve these problems but will only cause you sleeplessness which will make you feel awful the next day. Write down your worries on a piece of paper and think – I am going to sort it out tomorrow. Now time for sleep.

Hope these suggestions help. Feel free to message me!

All the best guys,

Awesome Happy Camper.

 

References: (If you’re struggling with sleep then these are good websites for further information)

https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/home

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Insomnia/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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