We’ve all experienced a bad night’s sleep. Some have it more frequently than others.
Poor sleep affects you during the day as you may feel more tired, less alert and long term could impact on your physical health too. Before jumping onto medications to help with sleep (which all come with their own risks) it’s worth seeing if you have tried some simple measures first.
This is a phrase that describes simple practices and habits that together could help improve your night’s sleep. This includes simple actions like:
Try not having a TV in your room and keeping your bedroom as a bedroom to allow your mind to associate this room as a place of rest and feel relaxed when you’re going to bed.
Some people like to read in bed. Many people love gandering at their smartphones in bed. That activity might actually keep you up, in addition to studies showing the effects on blue light emission from displays may also affect your sleep patterns. Try to wind away from these activities a couple of hours before you go to bed.
Avoid those caffeinated drinks late afternoon and early evening!
Avoid taking naps during the day. You might have caught only a few hours during the night, making you tired during the day so you nap. But then that’ll make your sleep pattern even more erratic.
Do your pets roam around your house at night? A few of our furry friends are nocturnal and love the nightlife, sometimes to the point of making noise that disturbs us. Is there a way to move them to another room
Headphones/ear plugs may be an option to avoid random noises that might wake you up.
Gadgets for Sleep
sometimes some people find white noise calming. Playing some sort of background sound might be useful, it could be nature sounds, sound of rain, some people even use audio books.
Again, different things work for different people so you can try to see what works.
You can play this directly from your phone or if you have a smart device like an Alexa or Google Home, you can play from there.
Light therapy :
Mainly for during winter months where we have shorter days and longer nights.
This affects some people, perhaps as the circadian rhythm (your biological or body clock) is affected. Some studies show that our bodies may naturally prefer to wake up to the gradual light from sunrise, and thus wakes us up during the lighter phases of sleep where we may feel fresher, rather than an alarm that course force us to wake during episodes of deeper sleeps where you might even feel a bit disortiented.
You can either get devices that are timed to gradually increase brightness in your room in the morning to wake you up gently
o If you’re a bit more techy and have smart bulbs, you can programme these to gradually increase in brightness each morning, say, with an Alexa app.
Aroma therapy and diffusers:
Some people find certain scents calming. Clean crisp cotton sheets? Warm magnolia? A gentle jasmine or a soothing lavender?
Although there are studies that have shown aromatherapy can help with anxiety/stress/sleep this must also come with a warning.
Please check Allergens list and any manufacturer warnings on the oils/scents devices you decide to try. Do not ingest it.
Here are a collection of links from reputable resources regarding the topic of sleep hygiene:
Sometimes it might be certain symptoms, like having to wake up at night more often to pee that disrupts your sleep. Sometimes pain might be waking you up. It might be restless legs. It could be breathlessness that might wake you up. Some medicines might also affect sleep (please check your medicine’s leaflet side effects information).
If you’re finding that there’s something specific that keeps waking you up, give your GP surgery a call. You can go through looking into what you and your clinician can do together to manage those symptoms.