If you do a search for ‘can’t sleep’ on Twitter, you will find numerous updates from people who are struggling to get that elusive good night’s sleep. Same with Facebook. If I check my news feed on a morning the number of friends who post at some unearthly hour in the night is bewildering.
And the reason why it’s so bewildering? Because it’s these activities – checking social media, emails, playing games on your mobile – that stop you falling asleep in the first place.
It’s really important that the bedroom is a sanctuary for sleeping. Anything entertaining or work related such as TVs, computers and tablets, games consoles and mobile phones should be turned off or even better, banned from the room. They’re not ideal if you’re struggling to get some shut eye.
Exposure to even the weakest glow at night – for example, the notification light flashing on your mobile next to your bed – can unconsciously play havoc with your body’s circadian rhythms, keeping you alert when you should be sleepy.
So what else should you NOT do if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night?
– Stay in bed: Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling won’t help you fall asleep. It’s more likely to make you more restless. Get out of bed, go into a dimly lit room and read a couple of chapters from a book, listen to some soothing music or make yourself a milky drink or chamomile tea.
– Turn on the lights: Bright light tells your body it’s time to wake up by suppressing melatonin – the hormone that relaxes your body for sleep. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible and if you need to turn on the light invest in a lamp or dimmer light.
– Have a nightcap: It may seem like a good idea but in reality, while it may help you fall asleep initially, it plays havoc with sleep patterns. You will also wake dehydrated and needing the loo!
– Worry: If your brain is working overtime, you won’t be able to relax. If you’ve got a lot on your mind, try writing your thoughts down. If a heavy workload is troubling you make a list of things to be tackled the next day. If you worry about not sleeping, then stop.
For our top tips on how to sleep click here.
So next time you find yourself struggling to sleep, resist the urge to share it on Twitter or Facebook – while you might be awake, chances are your friends/followers aren’t!