When a person can’t sleep well it affect all aspects of their life and can lead to serious health issues. In this first article I look at the environmental and lifestyle aspects that can improve sleep.
When I started having trouble with sleep it didn’t seem like too much of an issue. A few nights here and there where I didn’t sleep that well wasn’t too bad and I always caught up at the weekend. A good lie in generally did the trick and then I was right as rain till Monday night when it would start all over again.
Initially I found that eating did the trick and got fatter. And then the food stopped having the desired effect on me which meant that I was hit by a double dilemma. I tried some herbal stuff that was recommended by a friend, but for me it just didn’t work.
When I realised that I had a real problem I started research on the web. Don’t we all?
My first attempts came up with a fairly common list.
- Good sleep hygiene: So that’s going to bed at the same time each night, having a consistent ritual leading up to going to bed. Sensible but it didn’t help me get off to sleep.
- Have a warm bath about an hour before you go to bed. That made me sleepy but was a bit hit and miss. Part of my problem is being too hot anyway. The science is that a 1 degree celcius drop in core body temperature makes you sleepy.
- No TV in the bedroom. I never have and probably never will because it annoys me but if you have one then be aware that it’s grabbing your attention and stimulating your mind, the white light is actually upsetting your body clock because the blue in the light makes your eyes think it’s morning.
- Keep the bedroom cool. I agree with this one whole heartedly, the cooler the better. I have a ceiling fan in the bedroom too that helps cool me all night long. Not the whole solution though.
- Plenty of fresh air and exercise. That has some effect for me and I do what I can and like everyone I feel like I should do more.
- Keep the room dark. This works well for me. The science part is that it helps reset your body clock having a period in the dark with the daylight in the morning.
- A comfy bed. Yes that’s a good one too, a bad bed doesn’t help.
- Be careful with caffeine it’s a stimulant. That’s a good one for a lot of people to remember. There’s caffeine in tea, coffee, hot chocolate and all those so called energy drinks. Take care.
- Be careful with nicotine it’s a stimulant. The ritual of smoking calms you down, the nicotine is a stimulant that revs you up.
- Alcohol is a depressant it can make you sleepy but it’s easy to go too far. Be careful it’s not a long term solution to sleep problems. In truth it’s not even a short term solution.
- Eating – you can feel good from food but too much will keep you awake and the side effects of using food for sleep are getting fat which can be as bad as insomnia.
- Drink milk. The evidence runs both ways for hot and cold milk and it never worked for me. Hot chocolate has caffeine in it so don’t go there.
- Reduce Work Stress. Easier said than done in most cases but it is a big factor. Try a lunchtime walk, chatting with friends and things like that. Be a bit of a rebel and go home early (or on time) at least once a week.
These things might just work for you and sort out your sleeping. I would like to think so.
If you’ve read it all before and you’ve had a problem with insomnia for a while then you need more targeted help. If it’s been going on for a while then it’s generally referred to as chronic.
Part 2 of this article deals with a more targeted approach to serious sleep.
If you have problems getting to sleep or getting back to sleep in the Portsmouth / Fareham / Portchester area then you can call me on 0793 464 0831.