Does this sound familiar? It’s 3 o clock in the morning, it seems like the whole world is fast asleep, but you are wide awake!
You get off to sleep no problem but in the middle of the night you wake up and like a dog with a bone you can’t let go of your to do list or you’re running over the previous day (why is it that I always think of those smart answers, 12 hours too late?), and then you start to get anxious – “I need to get to sleep – I’ve a busy day tomorrow…” and so it goes on.
Insomnia is a common problem, with an estimated 1 in 3 people finding getting a good night’s sleep a challenge. Lack of sleep can leave us feeling tired, irritable, over emotional and lacking in focus, which can make us more accident prone. Not only that lack of sleep has been linked to various long term illnesses, and even weight problems.
So what can we do to help oursleves? I’m going to focus my next couple of blogs on heping you get a good night’s rest and giving you some tips on how you can cope with those times when sleep just escapes you.
I thought I’d start with some of the basics of sleep hygiene:
- Reduce your caffeine in take and try not to drink caffeine after 4pm. There are many herbal teas out there to encourage a restful night, why not try one?
- Other eating habits that can disturb sleep include – eating too much sugar; eating a heavy meal before bed; too much alcohol (alcohol may initially make you drowsy but the effort your liver has to put in to clean out the toxins will wake you up later); some food additives, monosodium glutamate is particularly notorious for giving sleepless nights.
- Try to make the room you sleep in cool, clear of clutter and if possible no TV, PC’s etc. Make your bedroom a haven for sleep and pleasurable activities – strictly no work!
- Don’t watch TV last thing at night. The rapid flicking images on the screen, as picked up by the retina, activate our sympathetic nervous system (ie. our stress response) and as the body then thinks there could be danger it puts us on high alert. To activate the relaxation response, turn off the TV and read a book, or listen to music or even better do some restorative yoga or a relaxation.
- Making sure you get enough exercise throughout the day, to burn off the stress hormones and to tire the physical body, is a good idea, particularly if you have a stressful desk based job, but try not to exercise in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime as the endorphins produced during exercise will leave you energised rather than sleepy.
- Have a warm bath. This raises the body’s temperature, which makes us feel naturally more drowsy.
- If it’s a busy mind that keeps you awake, try jotting down your ideas, thoughts, worries, to do list, before you go to bed, consciously telling yourself that you’ve written these things down so you don’t need to give them any more energy or thought until the morning.
I hope these suggestions help you, I know they’ve worked for me. Next time I’m going to be looking at more yogic ways of getting those elusive 8 hours, so until then take care and happy zzzzzzzzz-ing, Ix