Can't doze off?
I have always had trouble sleeping. My old job meant I was doing all kinds of shifts, meaning I could be working until 1am and then needing to be back in work at 8am. Sleep wasn’t a priority for a while. Then I knew I needed a change, so I looked up some handy hints and tips to get me off to sleep.
^ Actual picture of me now after taking these tips on board - I am ginger and adorable after all.
This is so much easier said than done. So many of us sit with our laptops until we decide to go to bed, then immediately launch an app on our phone. This hinders sleep as the light from your phone sends activating signals to your brain, keeping you awake and alert. When you’re off to bed, try and avoid your phone, tablet or laptop wherever possible in order for your body to wind down.
It seems like an obvious thing to say if you’re trying to sleep, but cut out coffee, Coke – anything that’s gonna be full of caffeine and sugar that’ll keep you awake for hours on end. Other things to avoid if you’re trying to get to sleep are cigarettes, alcohol and food. If you are hungry, try something light 45-60 minutes before you want to sleep.
Get into a routine.
Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day helps develop a sleeping pattern and gets your body into a routine so it will start to know when you need to sleep and will make you tired around the time you’ve made yourself go to bed.
The dreaded ‘e’ word. Some exercise in the day will tire you out – you don’t have to do a six hour workout, but a short walk will be more of a help to you than sitting around all day doing nothing. Some fresh air will never be a bad thing!
Now, I’ve been a student before and I know how crucial a nap can be sometimes. Napping excessively in the day is going to hinder your sleep. Even a five minute cat-nap is going to disrupt your sleeping pattern, so if you know you need to be up early the next day and need a lot of sleep, don’t nap the day before.
Evaluate your living space.
Try and keep cool during the night by using a fan. Use ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper. Buy an eye mask to make your room darker so you can drift off easily. Make sure you have pillows that support your head and neck. Also, try and associate your bed just for sleep and sex – using it as a seat means your mind will associate it with other activity and when you come to trying to sleep in it, it’ll be more difficult.
Listen to relaxing music.
Studies have shown that classical music, or any music that has a slow rhythm of 60 to 80 beats per minute, can help lull you to sleep. In a 2008 study of students, they found listening to classical music for 45 minutes before trying to sleep increased the chance of falling asleep quicker. The study also reported decreased symptoms of depression – always a bonus!
Wear socks to bed.
Now, it may not be sexy to wear socks in bed but research has shown that warm feet and hands were a good indicator of a good night’s sleep. In the study, participants placed a hot water bottle at their feet, which increased heat loss because the hot water bottle widened the blood vessels on the surface of the skin.
None of these work?
If you do genuinely find that you can’t sleep, it’s always advisable to speak to a doctor. There could be something that needs addressing that needs sorting out.
If you need talk to somebody about any problem you having then MMU's Counselling Service can be contacted on 0161 247 3493 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They also run daily drop in sessions - just set your alarm!