Sleeping, it’s something that we all need to do but something that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. Medical studies suggest the average human body needs between six and nine hour per night to be fully functional during the day, however there are extreme cases where people are sleeping much less or much more each day.
The human body needs sleep to effectively reset the brain and this does take time. In this section we’re looking at how to get a good nights sleep, especially for those who struggle to sleep.
The single most important advice to getting a good nights sleep and be fully functional during the day is to make sure that you go to bed and wake up at the same time each and everyday. A late night should not be more than one hour after your regular going to bed time and a “lie in” again should not be more than one hour after your regular wake up time.
Studies across the world have shown that there are many reasons why some people have a difficult time sleeping, however they are all addressed easily and only but the very severe cases, do not require any forms of medication or sleeping aids.
For the average human, sleep occurs when your naturally tired, in a comfortable place, warm and can relax easily into a deep sleep. If you find your self unable to sleep the first check you need to do is your surrounding area.
Hard/Soft Mattress or Pillow
Are you uncomfortable because your mattress or pillow is too hard or soft? Being able to lie down in a comfortable position is one of the key principles in getting a good nights sleep. If your mattress is either to hard or soft, this can be difficult. If you cannot get yourself into a comfortable position firstly check your mattress and consider replacing it with either a harder or softer mattress depending on your personal preferences.
The same applies to your pillow where again this is personal choice, however if your pillow does not give you the support that you need, it can easily cause a bad nights sleep.
Remember, how hard or soft a mattress needs to be, does depend on your weight and in many cases a husband and wife sleeping in the same bed will require a different hardness to get comfortable. If you’re looking for a new bed, it’s important that you choose a split mattress that offers support for both parties.
The second principle to getting a good nights sleep refers to the level of noise in your room. Both too much and too little can leave you struggling to sleep, however it’s a personal preference to which is more suitable for your needs.
If your the type of person that is always thinking about something they either have not done or need to do the next day, background noise could really help you get to sleep. In this case I would highly recommend that you look at a White Noise Generator which will give your room some background noise.
On the same token, maybe your room is too noisy because your partner snores or you live in an inner city apartment where you can hear the traffic. If this is the case then you need to think about getting ear plugs. Many of my patients have not tried or are worried about using earplugs given the fear of not waking up in the morning. Technology has moved on in the past few years to the point where now vibration alarm watches that you can wear on your wrist exist and will wake you up in the morning.
The third key principle of sleeping is to watch your diet especially what and when you eat and drink. If you cannot sleep because you enjoy coffee and have just had a double express before bed, this is probably your problem.
On the same token sleeping on a full stomach is never a good idea and whilst often you will feel tired after you eat, you need to make sure that you resist the temptation to sleep after you eat.
Part of your diet need to be your exercise regime or lack of it as is so often the case. The human body needs to be tired in order to sleep properly, however so often the case for insomnia is that the body does not need the sleep that it’s getting. The easiest way to speed up this process of getting the body tired to make sure your taking 30 minutes of activity each day. Recent medical studies have found the best way to make the body tired is to….., however there are other options here.
Preparing To Sleep
The first principle of getting a good nights sleep is to make sure that you prepare to sleep. There is no point in taking a cold shower, drinking coffee or worst of all, watching a video on your smartphone or IPAD.
Technological devices are utterly useless for sleeping and are easily the most common sleep disturbing habit that we have picked up in the last 20 years. The problems with looking at these bright screens right before sleeping is that they will reduce your levels of Melatonin and shorten your REM cycles. It’s very important that you switch off your smartphones at least an hour before bed as it will drastically improve your quality of sleep.
The Consistent Bed Time Routine
In the UK today, Insomnia affects approximately one-third of the population, however it’s more common in women that men and more common in those over the age of 50 where the body does not require the same amount of sleep that it once did.
Medical studies across the years have show that there are a variety of factors that can cause insomnia, however the the most common relate to stress, medication side effects, hormones, depression, pain, worry and the anxiety of not being able to get to sleep.
Below are 10 great ways to try and beat Insomnia, however it’s important to remember that insomnia is not something that you need to worry about. Not sleeping or only sleeping a few hours during the night is perfectly fine if this is only happening a few nights a week.
Consistent Bedtime Routine
The body needs to understand when it’s time to go to bed and more importantly, when it’s time to get up in the morning. It’s not something that is going to happen over night, however it is very easy to train your body to achieve this.
It’s important to remember, your consistent bedtime routine starts in the morning and not like many of my patients, 15 minutes before they want to go to sleep. In order to get to sleep that evening you need to make sure that your waking up at the same time each day. This way the body knows how many hours it’s going to be awake for, before the next sleeping cycle starts.
Caffeine is okay during the morning, but you should stop your caffeine intake after midday and make sure that you exercise during the day for a minimum of 30 minutes. Both the type of food that you eat and the timing of your food is very important. Make sure that you spread your meals out throughout the day whilst ensuring that you have eaten your daily food intake by the latest 7pm. This way when you start preparing for bed, your stomach is empty and your body can focus on sleeping and not digesting food.
If you’re really struggling to sleep, stay away from alcohol as this make send you to sleep if you drink enough of it, your sleep quality will be terrible and as soon as the alcohol wears off, you will be awake again and with the dehydration process that occurs, it’;s going to be more difficult to get back to sleep once you awake.
As mentioned above, it’s important that you start your day both in the right frame of mind, but also at the same time everyday. It’s also very important that you head to bed at the same time everyday. This way your body naturally gets into a rhyme and knows that sleep is around the corner.
Roughly an hour before you head to bed, you need to think about getting your body into a position where naturally you can fall asleep. The most important part of this process is to stay away from electronic devices such as smartphones, computers and IPads as they will do nothing for you.
Once your ready to sleep and have switched off your electronics, you need to de-clutter your mind and relax. Studies have shown that those who worry about getting to sleep have a harder time actually getting to sleep than those who can relax.
If you struggle to get your body into the right frame of mind for sleeping then think about learning to relax through mediation. In the past I have recommend using relaxation technique regularly especially those that involve breathing exercises such as ……. or to an extent yoga.
It’s also a great idea to dim the lighting around your house before bedtime. This may seem strange, but it shows the body that it’s time to sleep and will naturally help you feel tired.
White Noise is a fantastic way to keep your brain from being active whilst your trying to sleep.
In the early stages when your still in the process of getting yourself into a sleeping routine, it’s a great idea to use natural sleeping aid treatments, however you need to stay away from hard medication as these are likely to knock you out quickly, but you will find it difficult to wake up in the morning.
Natural sleeping aids will not force the body to sleep, but instead encourage you to become tired naturally. With this natural treatment, waking up in the morning is much easier and therefore recommend. Generally the two best natural sleeping aid treatments are valerian and melatonin.