We established in our previous post that sleep is without a doubt one of the most important processes that your body goes through, and that without enough of it you could be seriously damaging your health, whilst also lowering your quality of life considerably. Knowing and understanding this is important, but it is irrelevant without actually knowing how to get a good night's sleep.
How well you sleep and how long for is dependant on a myriad of factors, some well within your control and some less so; the trick is to identify what you can change and use it too offset what you cannot. This can be difficult of course, with some factors being easy and quick to fix, and others a lot less so.
To better illustrate the point lets take England on the 21st of June, the longest day in the year. You have to be at work for 9am, so you will want to wake up at 7am; which means you will probably have gone to sleep between 11pm and 12am. Sadly the room in which you sleep may as well have tracing paper for curtains, so the second the sun pops up you get woken up. As it is the longest day in the year the will sun rises shortly before 5am in the morning; depriving you of over 2 hours of sleep.
Bearing in mind that you will have been getting woken up by the sun earlier and earlier for weeks preceding this, and it will continue for weeks to come, you will have to do something about it. Obviously you cannot change the time that the sun will rise, so that it out of the question, but there are a number of things you could do such as going to sleep 2 hours earlier to offset the difference, buying some thicker curtains, or getting an eye mask. All of these have their associated issues, such as their cost, comfort or practicality; but at least you have identified the issue and come up with some possible ways of fixing it.
This is a very basic example, but it does illustrate that problems can happen which are unavoidable, such as the sun rise, or road works outside; and that when they do you have to come up with ways to resolve them. Not all fixes are quite so immediate or obvious though, and it could be something that you are or are not doing yourself that is causing you to sleep badly and wake up early. The problem is that because it is not as obvious as a sunrise, people do not think about it, and even when they do, they cannot fix the problem because its cause is not apparent.
How do you sleep at night?
So what can you do, or stop doing, to improve your ability to sleep? We know that this can be a hard thing to work out, so we have compiled this list of Do's and Dont's, which should help:
- Do – Set and stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends: This may not be glamorous, and may not always be practical depending on your lifestyle, but doing so will help you keep your body-clock regulated, which will help you when falling asleep and waking up.
- Don't – Drink alcohol: Some people may like to enjoy a drink or two before bed to help them relax and fall asleep easier; whilst this is not too bad, going to sleep after having imbibed more than 2 units of alcohol will have a negative on sleep; with the effects becoming more and more severe the more you have drank.
- Do – Ready yourself for sleep half an hour early: Certain things, like watching TV, playing video games or using your mobile phone, keep your brain engaged and prevent your body from winding down. Doing something that you do not otherwise do through out the day is a good way of winding down; so read in bed, or lie down and chat to your partner for a bit; just relax and above all your phone!
- Don't – Make yourself too warm: Our bodies are very sensitive to changes in temperature, especially when we sleep and our body temperatures drop slightly. Having your heating on to high, or even having particularly thick duvet, can cause enough of a temperature difference to rouse you from your sleep.
- Do – Avoid smoking: Of course smoking is a big problem and it would be best if you cut it out completely, as you will crave one as the night goes on, even while you sleep, and it may wake you up. But if you cannot help this, at least avoid having one in the hour before you intend to sleep, as nicotine is a stimulant and will make sleeping difficult.
- Don't – Worry, be happy: Everyone has stress, and you cannot help but worry about it some times, but don't allow your troubles to fester or else your sleep will suffer, which will only exacerbate the situation. Easier said than done, we know; and some things sort themselves out naturally over time, but if you are worrying about a health issue, for example, then go and see a doctor the first chance you can to get yourself looked at. It is better to know if something is wrong for sure, than to not know and worry.
Naturally following these will not solve all problems, but they are the most common causes of sleep deprivation, and by following them you will soon see an improvement; at least to some degree.