Does it take you more than half an hour to fall asleep at night? Do you wake up frequently during the night or too early in the morning and battle to get back to sleep? Or do you wake up tired and exhausted leading you to feel irritable, anxious or depressed throughout the day? If you answered yes to one of these questions, you more than likely have a sleeping problem.
You are not alone though. Around 1 in 3 people suffer from some degree of insomnia which can have a debilitating effect on your quality of life, energy levels and your mood.
A VICIOUS CYCLE
The most common cause of insomnia seems to be psychological – stress, anxiety and depression. This is not surprising given the fast-paced, highly pressurised lives most of us lead – with sleep deprivation only adding to the stress and anxiety of everyday life. To solve the problem, we tend to look for a quick-fix.
Most doctors and pharmacists will suggest sleeping pills, also known as hypnotics. Aside from the long-list of side-effects associated with this medication, numerous studies and clinical trials have shown them to be largely ineffective. So, you’re struggling to get some shut-eye and pop a pill that may slightly improve your quality of sleep but might also make you experience a host of other nasty symptoms which leads to more stress, anxiety and possibly even depression? It’s a vicious cycle waiting to happen.
Of course, there are exceptions such as chronic fatigue and sleep problems associated with an illness such as diabetes or a painful condition like arthritis, that may need to be treated with prescribed drugs.
But what are the other options? Before you reach for a quick fix, here are some helpful ways to help you sleep that don’t involve counting sheep, or popping pills!
- Reduce your stress levels and get your body into a calm state ready for sleeping by avoiding any strenuous activities in the few hours before bed time.
- Avoid alcohol before bed, and limit any caffeine intake after midday (and preferably avoid completely).
- Aim to follow a soothing bedtime routine, such as having a warm bath with Epsom Salts and lavender or listening to soothing music.
- Once in bed, do some simple relaxation exercises, like taking a few deep calming breathes, to get yourself ready for sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark and that you are completely comfortable.
- Turn off mobile phones and wi-fi connections at night.