Does the premise of a good night’s sleep feel like a distant dream? The struggle for sufficient slumber is all too common in our current day and age. Stress, diet, technology and demanding careers are some of the factors that play a role here.
For some people, it’s more than just the odd late night and languid morning. According to one report, as many as 16 million adults in the UK are regularly struggling to sleep. A shocking 23 per cent cannot sustain more than five hours of shut-eye per night. Sleep disorders are often to blame.
Whether it’s insomnia, sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome or narcolepsy, these health problems can make your waking life a nightmare. And no matter how exhausted you feel come sunset, you still have trouble falling asleep. As the cycle continues, your mood, energy and productivity begin to deteriorate.
Of course, this is no way forward. It’s important to be aware of how you can overcome your sleep disorder and give yourself the best chances of getting a good night’s rest. Here are 4 tips that can help.
Get a Better Bed
It isn’t a bedroom without a bed. And it probably isn’t going to be a good night’s sleep without a good bed. When it comes to what you sleep on, it’s reasonable to spend a little more for better quality.
- Get a mattress that supports your posture and uses natural fillings that don’t cause allergic reactions. Take a look at the mattresses by Hypnos for some examples that are high quality and comfortable, to help ensure that your body is fully supported.
- Ensure that your pillow is suited for your sleeping position. A natural, breathable fabric like wool or silk makes for an ideal casing.
- Keep your sheets clean to prevent dust and opt for a material that feels comfortable against your skin.
Track Your Sleep
Tracking your sleep habits can give you a better overall picture of what happens throughout the night. You can use an app like Luci, Snorelab or Sleep Cycle as a digital diary, or take the traditional route with pen and paper. Try to include the following details:
- What time you got into bed
- When you woke up
- How long you stayed awake and what you did
- The food and drinks you consumed and when you had them
- Your emotions and mood before bed
- Any medications you took and when
After some time, you may begin to notice trends. This can lead to identifying a potential cause for your sleep problem.
Optimise Your Environment
Regardless of what kind of sleep disorder you have, some simple changes to your environment can make a world of a difference. Step into your bedroom and consider the following tips:
- Eliminate any sources of light. Turn off electronics and use thick curtains or an eye mask to keep it dark.
- Lower (or increase) the temperature to around 18.3°C by opening some windows or using a fan.
- Invest in earplugs or a white noise machine to reduce the intensity of outdoor sounds.
- Avoid eating, working or watching television in the bedroom. Try to reserve it for sleep only.
- Add some decorations to help you relax, such as plants, flowers and peaceful photographs.
- Use a diffuser or scented candle with a calming smell. Lavender and geranium are great options.
Repair Your Circadian Rhythm
Your struggles with sleep may be caused by a disrupted circadian rhythm. This is the internal clock that controls the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes you drowsy. It’s primarily regulated by exposure to light.
That’s why shift work is a common reason for a circadian rhythm that’s out of tune. Having to work late at night or early in the morning forces you to stay awake when your body is telling you to go to sleep and vice-versa. While some people can adjust to this change, others risk developing shift work sleep disorder. The following are some solutions:
- Take regular breaks.
- Discuss changing your hours. Request a later shift rather than an earlier one, as it’s easier to adjust.
- Increase your light exposure at work and minimise it when you need to sleep.
- Consider taking a melatonin supplement.
Another problem related to the circadian rhythm is delayed phase sleep disorder. This happens when you go to sleep and wake up too late. It’s particularly common among teenagers, although most grow out of it. Treatments such as light therapy and chronotherapy can help to stave off the effects of a damaged circadian rhythm.
Remember that lifestyle factors such as high sugar, caffeine and alcohol consumption can also negatively impact your ability to sleep. Healthy diet, regular exercise and a consistent routine will do the opposite. By getting to the root of the problem, you can overcome your sleep disorder and get the shut-eye you deserve.