Getting a Good Night’s Sleep?

Posted on: 11th August 2018

Sleep deprivation is a known to affect physical health by increasing the risk for obesity, heart disease and infection. It can affect wound healing rates and growth. Throughout the night, the body releases hormones during sleep that help repair cells and control the body’s use of energy. These hormone changes can affect body weight. Lack of sleep can produce diabetic like symptoms in otherwise healthy people. The psychological symptoms range from tiredness and irritability to a noticeable reduction in cognitive functioning, working memory, decision making and concentration. Sleep deprivation can lead to low mood and clinical depression. So how do you ensure you get a good night’s sleep?  Most people benefit from 7-8 hours a night. The Sleep Foundation suggest several positive changes people can make to regain a regular sleep routine and start sleeping better. Some strategies:

  • Develop a bedtime routine: Stop studying/working any stimulating discussions or activities a ½-1 hour before bed. Do something relaxing-read “light” material, play an instrument, listen to quiet music, some mindless TV. Find your own sleep-promoting routine.
  • Warm bath NOT a shower: Take a long, bath before going to bed with some lavender oil. This helps relax and soothe your muscles. Showers, on the other hand, tend to wake you up. Insomniacs should avoid showers in the evening.
  • If you are worried about waking up late set 2 alarms. I use an alarm clock and my Fitbit.
  • Write any “To Do” List: If you think of something you want to remember, jot it down. Then let the thought go. There will be no need to lie awake worrying about remembering what you need to do tomorrow or later on.
  • Schedule dinner at least 4 hours before bedtime so your digestive system will be reasonably quiet by the time you’re ready to sleep.
  • Warm milk can help some people so have a glass at bedtime. Milk has an essential amino acid, tryptophan, which stimulates the brain chemical serotonin, believed to play a key role in inducing sleep. A piece of whole wheat bread, or another carbohydrate to enhance the effect.
  • Avoid caffeine from late afternoon and caffeine in coffee, colas, tea, chocolate which can cause hyperactivity and wakefulness. Some sleep laboratories encourage people to avoid such tyrosine-laden foods as fermented cheeses (cheddar is about the worst but cottage cheese and yogurt are ok).
  • Exercise: Keep physically active during the day. This is especially important the day after a bad night’s sleep. Strenuous exercise (brisk walking, swimming, jogging, squash, etc.) in late afternoon seems to promote more restful sleep.
  • Stretch and relaxation: Some people find that a gentle stretching routine for several minutes just before getting into bed helps induce sleep. Others practice relaxation techniques or medication. The internet is filled with information on stretching/relaxation routines and medication. (I use Calm and Headspace) Set a bedtime schedule: Go to bed at about the same time every night. Be regular. Go to bed later when you are having trouble sleeping. If you’re only getting 5 hours of sleep a night during an insomnia period, don’t go to bed until just 5 hours before your wake-up time. Make the time you spend in bed is sleep time.
  • Never oversleep: Never oversleep because of a poor night’s sleep. This is the most crucial rule and common mistake. Get up at about the same time every day, especially on the morning after you’ve lost sleep. Sleeping late for just a couple of days can reset your body’s clock to a different cycle –you’ll be getting sleepy later and waking up later.

Your environment

  • Room temperature: Sleep in a cool room (60 degrees or so). Pile on another blanket or add one under the mattress pad rather than turn up the heat. Do keep it cool to sleep better.
  • Noise: Some people seem to sleep better if there is a white noise — a fan running, for example – in the background. For others, noise can interrupt sleep. Try particular kinds of music to block out the noise. Play music that has no words, no definite melody, and no extreme variations in volume (ex. Baroque music). There are many sounds that aid sleep by quieting the mind, emotions, and body e.g. YouTube sleep music.
    • In bed and unable to sleep? If you are in bed and unable to sleep, many experts suggest getting completely out of bed, sitting in a chair, and reading, writing letters, or doing some quiet activity. As you get sleepy, go back to bed and use a relaxation technique to fall asleep or listen to something like the music on the Calm app. Make your bed a place to sleep, not a place to get other things done.

Not managing stress very well? Difficulty in managing normal, everyday stress in life is a common problem for many. A frequent reaction to daily stresses is insomnia. Good stress-management strategies help you learn how to manage those frequent stressors and go through each day more smoothly. If you fel that counselling may help then please get in touch either by text on 07891593571 or email sheelaghward@protonmail.com