SELF HELP FOR INSOMNIA & SLEEP PROBLEMS
There are many reasons for not sleeping well which may include distress, physical discomfort or physical illness.
Sleep needs vary. A baby starts life needing 16 hours or so of sleep each day, and the time we need for sleep decreases as we get older, so that adults, and particularly older adults may only need 4-6 hours a night.
People's needs vary, but most people feel they need 7-8 hours, whilst others feel they need more.
Our modern way of living has a big impact on the natural sleeping cycle. Previously, we were much more in tune with nature, going to bed when natural light faded and the day's temperature reduced. This prompted our body to produce melatonin, which makes us sleepy. Artificial light (including from our digital screens) and heating delays the production of melatonin.
Our mental health also has a big impact on our sleep pattern. We might have difficulty getting off to sleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep. These all result in our feeling that we haven't slept enough - we feel tired, tense and are likely to worry about not sleeping. This worry can then make it even harder for us to sleep well.
If you have trouble sleeping, there are some things you can do to help yourself get a good restful night. These include making changes in:
Reset your body clock
If you're a night owl and you fall asleep in the early hours of the morning then wake up later in the morning, you can take these steps for 3 weeks to reset your body clock:
Wake up 2-3 hours earlier than usual and get plenty of outdoor light in the morning
Eat breakfast as soon as possible
Have lunch at the same time every day, and eat nothing after 7pm
Ban caffeine after 3pm
No naps after 4pm
Go to bed 2-3 hours earlier than usual and limit light in the evening
Maintain the same sleep and wake times every day
Making changes to our environment so that our bedrooms become a restful place for sleeping. Remove excess light (particularly blue light), make sure the temperature is right, and check the bed and pillow are comfortable. If you cannot reduce the noise, then consider ear-plugs designed for sleep use. Remove TV and device screens from your bedroom, and read from a conventional book rather than an e-book on a back-lit screen.
Change your Thinking
Worrying about not sleeping will keep you awake! Rather than put your focus of attention on the worrying thoughts, notice that they are just thoughts, then put your attention somewhere restful, use imagery, mindful breathing, or your relaxation technique.
Tell yourself that worrying about it will not help, and that you probably are getting enough, just less than you think you need. Our needs change as we get older.
If you're worrying about a particular problem, write it down, and tell yourself you can sort it in the morning.
Distract yourself by thinking about a random sequence of objects for a few seconds each. E.g. a table, a tree, a saucepan, a flower, a cow, a cloud etc. Or you could think about a few items beginning with the letter "B", then move on through the alphabet.
Download and listen to the
Simply Sleep mp3 (below)
SIMPLY SLEEP mp3
Female voice, with music.
36 mins 30s
SIMPLY SLEEP mp3
Male voice, with music.
36 mins 30s
Self Help Books
Electronic sleep aids