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Insomnia: Why you can’t sleep

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Parenting, working and household chores can really sap your energy levels but what if you’re already running on empty?  Whether you struggle to fall asleep or lie staring at the clock for hours in the middle of the night, a lack of sleep can have a profoundly detrimental effect on your everyday life.  Insomnia affects people for numerous reasons and in various ways but the key to beating it can be difficult to pin point.

Why can’t I get to sleep?

Working out what is causing your insomnia will make it much easier to overcome.  Think about what is going on in your life.  Are you stressed about work?  Taking any new medication? Drinking too much?  Are you worried about something?  Do you have any niggling pains?  Is there anything major like a house move or break-up looming?  For many people insomnia is brought on by anxiety, depression or stress and once that is recognised, it is easier to deal with.

Not sleeping

While resolving mental or physical issues is the ideal way to combat insomnia, these problems won’t go away overnight.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to examine your lifestyle and make little changes to establish good sleeping patterns.  It’s tempting to use caffeine to prop you up when you’ve been up half the night and have a busy day to be getting on with but you won’t benefit in the long term.  Caffeine is best avoided from around 2pm.  Try not to smoke too close to bedtime either as nicotine is a stimulant and could be keeping you awake.  While alcohol may make you feel drowsy and help you drop off, it affects your quality of sleep so it’s best to steer clear of it in the evenings if you’re suffering from insomnia.

Routine

Don’t be tempted to ‘catch up’ on sleep at the weekend.  Train your body clock to recognise when it should be sleeping by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.  You may crave a nap when you hit the afternoon slump but those 40 winks might contribute to lying awake when you go to bed that night.  If you must nap, limit it to half an hour and make sure you don’t doze past 3pm.  Sticking to a routine will help stabilise your sleep patterns and make it easier to sleep at night.

Daily activities affect your sleeping patterns too.  Try to fit some exercise into your day.  Not only will it help tire you out, a good workout will also banish any tension you might be feeling.  It does pump you up though so don’t go straight to bed from the gym.  Near the end of the day switch off the television, computer and smart phone and have some quiet time.  Read a chapter of a book, soak in the bath or listen to some relaxing music to help you wind down.

insomnia

De-clutter

Open your bedroom door and what do you see?  If your bedroom is crammed with the ironing board, kids’ toys, laptop, television and ‘stuff’ it’s no wonder you struggle to sleep.  Bedrooms should be used only for sleeping and sex.  De-clutter your bedroom and you’ll find it easier to clear your mind in bed.  Make sure your room is the right temperature, not too light or dark and your bed comfortable.  A calm and relaxing environment is invaluable when it comes to sleeping well.

If you feel that your everyday life is being affected by insomnia then it is worth paying your GP a visit.  Your doctor can help get to the source of the problem and refer you for further treatment if needed.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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