It happens to everyone from time to time and it’s quite usual, but if you find you’re struggling with getting to sleep or staying asleep, then it may be worth reviewing what is going on. Recent research is showing the importance of sleep, and how it is used by the body to help drain the brain of unnecessary waste. Obviously, if you have a young baby or child, you’re going to know what’s going on, and if you’re struggling it’s important to reach out to your support network. If you don’t have an obvious answer which is causing you to have trouble getting to sleep or waking you up every night, then you may want to check out some of the suggestions below.
What are you doing before your bedtime?
Does it include the use of screens? For many, this is a normal part of life; we check social media, browse the internet or watch something on our tablets or phones. If you’re in this category, can you put an app filter on your phone or tablet to reduce the blue screen glare at night? Research into screens is showing that the colour of the screen can upset your body clock, and that a red filter can help to avoid over stimulation. Even better, can you stop using a screen at least an hour or so before bedtime?
Are you working and then expecting to crawl straight into bed to drop off? Realistically, this is unlikely to happen as your body will still be thinking about the work you have been doing and will not be able to switch off. Again, it’s a good idea to stop work about an hour or more before you are due to go to bed.
Do you have a routine?
Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Over time your body will become accustomed to the routine and will realise it’s time to unwind. This also means going to bed at the same time on weekends whenever possible. Also, try to get up at the same time – while it’s tempting to have a long lie in on the weekend, this can again send mixed messages to your body.
Relaxing drinks such as hot chocolate or chamomile tea are more beneficial than stimulating caffeine drinks. Some people find they need to avoid caffeine from early evening to ensure they can have a good night’s sleep. If you find your mind is still racing when you get into bed and you’re thinking about lots of different things, then you may find a meditation app useful, which you can set from 3 to 20 minutes. Some are even designed to leave on while you try to fall asleep. Obviously, this may seem a little contrary to the suggestion above, so keep your phone usage as minimal as possible and use the app filter if you’re using a mindfulness app!
Other things to consider
Using essential oils can be useful. Relaxing oils such as Roman chamomile (Anthemis noblis or Chamaemelum nobile), Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) or Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) are just a few of the essential oils you can choose from. You can use the oil as directed on the side of the bottle, or contact an aromatherapist for a bespoke blend which can be applied to your skin before bedtime. The benefit of a bespoke blend means the therapist can blend a selection of oils based on what you tell them during the consultation. Using them in your bedroom or bath is a great way to relax your body and prepare it for bedtime. If you’re using them in a bath, do remember to add them to a suitable dispersant, so you reduce the risk of irritation. These can be bought from aromatherapy suppliers and may be called bath bases.
Do you need to move your body more in the day to tire yourself out for the evening? If so, you may need to factor in some exercise at points throughout your day. Recent research is suggesting that three bouts of ten minutes throughout the day provides good health benefits. You may find having an evening complementary therapy session beneficial, as it can aid your relaxation ready for bedtime. If you receive a reflexology session, you could ask your therapist for some techniques to help aid relaxation.
Are you popping to the toilet more frequently at night? This can happen to many people as they get older and can be normal, especially if you’re drinking fluids before bed. If, however, you’ve noticed you’re generally peeing more frequently, it’s worth speaking to your GP about it as it could be signs of an underlying issue.
Personally I find silly little things like checking the temperature of my room and changing my bedclothes can really help if I’m having trouble sleeping. Sometimes adjusting the heating down a degree or two, or opening/closing the window at night can work well. It may even be worth you considering the last time you changed your pillow and if you are waking at night to move yourself for adjust your pillow – if you are, then it may be worth investing in a new one.
Remember, it is usual for us to experience periods when our sleep pattern may be disrupted, especially if we’re stressed or we have a lot of things going on and we should give our body some time to readjust to the changes we make. If however, you have tried to address the issue yourself and it is continuing for several months, or if it is causing you distress, or issues with your work, then it is worth speaking to your GP for further advice.
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns the Therapy Centre, BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, aromatology, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information visit louise-morgan.co.uk or contact her clinic on 01275 217160