Do you have problems getting to sleep at night? If so, your not alone because millions of people have the same problem. Of course, if you’re not getting enough sleep, this can have a negative impact on your work, family life and overall quality of life. I used to work shift work and my sleeping patterns suffered for many years. I would be lucky some nights to get 3 or 4 hours and would consider that a pretty good sleep. Eventually, this caught up with me in terms of my health suffering.
Based on my own extensive research in this area and trying all kinds of different methods over the past 15 years and finally attending a sleep clinic, the experts recommend you should try and aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Here’s some additional information that I learned about if you have interrupted sleep or insomnia problems on a regular basis:
- Your immune system can be weakened
- It can impair your memory, including the ability to function properly the next day
- Affects your hormone levels
- Chronic sleep problems will likely impact your job performance too
- Can cause mood problems related to depression
- Increases your stress levels because you’re not sleeping properly, which can affect your heart
- Can accelerate aging
When you have chronic insomnia problems, your circadian rhythms are thrown off; this will impact your body to produce adequate levels of melatonin, which can cause further health problems.
Some underlying problems sleeping
When I started thinking about all the things that caused me to have restless nights and what I learned in the sleep clinic, here are few common areas that may be part of the problem.
- Diet – This can cause sleeping problems too. Either a lack of adequate nutrition or eating the wrong kinds of foods. It could be combination of both.
- Stress – by far this tops the list of why we struggle falling asleep. That includes fear, worrying about something, anxiety.
- You’re not tired yet – as a result, your internal alarm clock is fighting you trying to fall asleep. Everyone has their own internal clock on when they are normally tired and when they feel rested enough in the morning to get up.
- You could also be over tired – I’ve had some nights that I can barely keep my eyes open past 9 o’clock. However, when I get to bed, I start tossing and turning unable to fall asleep.
- What are you thinking or worrying about? OK, this has always been a problem for me because I find my mind racing around and around at a 100 miles per hour. It could be a small event at work that for whatever reason, it keeps replaying in my mind.
- Watching TV or working on your computers in Bed – This is counter-productive to getting a good night sleep and this will likely cause a delay in getting to sleep because your mind is still racing around inside.
Tips on Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
- Exercise – Regular exercising can dramatically impact your ability to fall asleep more quickly. However, don’t work out right before bed.
- Make sure your room is completely dark. This is not a problem for me since I like it really dark. That includes removing distractions from the room like your cell phone and a bright alarm clock. You don’t need the glow or sudden text message in the middle of the night waking you up.
- Reduce the temperature of your room – It’s recommended to keep it between 60 – 68 degrees. Of course, some people will naturally like it cooler or hotter than that. Again, if you have problems sleeping, try all of these suggestions to see which ones work and which ones you can remove from your list.
- Keep your bed area reserved for sleeping, versus watching TV. I know many friends that have TV’s in their bedroom. While it might work for many people, if you suffer from insomnia, you want to eliminate as many possible distractions that could cause problems.
- Consider sleeping in separate beds – OK- before you go off on a tangent. The new research suggests that sleeping in separate beds can actually be good for your health and relationships. The reason for that is because when you get a restful night of sleep, you normally feel refreshed in the morning, which leads to being typically in a better mood.
- Establish a normal bed time routine – They really stressed this in the sleep clinic to go to bed at the same time every night. That also includes even on weekends when not working. They also strongly suggested you get up at the same time every morning to keep your body used to a routine.
- Don’t drink liquids, especially caffeine within 2 hours of bedtime – This is really important because if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, like I do, it’s usually because I didn’t follow my own advice. You may even need to increase that to 3 hours prior to bed and make sure you go to the bathroom right before bedtime.
- Consume some protein several hours prior to bed – this will help with normalizing your blood sugar levels. Plus, it helps with the production of melatonin because of the L-tryptophan in protein. Personally, I found that if I eat past 8 PM, I may have problems falling asleep.
- Listen to relaxing music or specific relaxation CD’s – I use this quite a bit and have found some success. One of the things I do is either have a small fan going for the white noise for the brain or use get a free relax melody app for your smart phone. The one I have on my iPhone has about 30 different soothing sounds I can play to relax me. You could also include some meditation to your daily regiment.
- Avoid sugary stuff – I cringe sometimes when my daughter eats something with sugar right before she goes to bed. Of course, she will complain that she didn’t have the greatest sleep. This is because when you consume sugar right before bedtime, it spikes your blood sugar and then eventually drops off, affecting your sleeping patterns.