If you’ve had a look at my introduction to sleep dealing with insomnia and you’re here then I’ll assume that you’ve tried all that and it had little or no effect. You are going to have to research yourself because you potentially have a more serious sleep issue. If you think it’s too much trouble then maybe you’re not ready yet.
Some things you can talk to your partner about. Some initial things you should check for are:
- Snoring which can be a real problem to your health so get advice from your doctor. It sounds silly but if it’s a part of the problem then get it fixed.
- Stopping breathing for more than a few seconds– your partner will tell you about that. If you find that you do this then see your doctor as now, today!
If you don’t have a partner then you could make a recording of your night’s sleep, if you look at the recording in a program like Audacity then you will see the a visual representation of the sound waves and the relative volumes of things, with a short study you will be able to match visual waveforms with sounds so you can pick out heavy breathing from snoring.
From here on in I’ll be dealing with insomnia – a failure to get to sleep or get back to sleep if woken in the night.
Your self research starts to get more mundane here but it’s really important. If you don’t identify what you’re up against then you can’t fix it!
Start a sleep diary and make a notes for at least 10 days and nights. Why 10? We will be doing some measurements on how long you sleep and dividing by 10 is easier than dividing by 7 or 8 although you are allowed to use a calculator.
Make a note of these things:
- Times and amounts of exercise
- Times and Size of meals
- Times and amount of alcohol intake
- Times and amount of caffeine intake
- Times and amounts of smoking
- Times and amount of TV watched
- Things in your environment that are keeping you awake like Body temperature, uncomfortable bed, noise.
- How long you spent at work
- Recurring thoughts that are stopping sleep
- Worries from the day that are stopping sleep
- Time you go to bed
- The time you get up
- List the times you know you were awake because you saw the clock.
- List the times you got out of bed and for how long
For each night come up with a total of time in bed and amount of sleep. For each night try an come up with a profile of the day before so that you can see if there are any patterns to your lack of sleep. The longer the period you monitor yourself the more idea you will get of what your issues are. Don’t jump to conclusions too soon, and work with the evidence and not just gut feel.
I agree it’s a long list but we’re trying to work out what’s wrong. Also if you end up going to the doctor then it will be useful information to pass on a well as an indication that you regard it as a serious problem.
My own problem was getting to sleep. I get hot and sometimes I have things on my mind, sometimes I have things on my mind that I don’t realise that I have.
Some of the issues you will have are straight forward to deal with. For example:
- If you get too hot then use less bed covers and perhaps get a fan.
- If you are drinking coffee, tea, hot chocolate or energy drinks containing caffeine late at night then try stopping earlier because they are stimulants.
- If you smoke then have the last one earlier because that’s a stimulant too.
In the next part (Part 3) of this article I will describe some of the solutions that may work including sleep compression.
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.