My husband puts his head on the pillow and is asleep in seconds. I am so jealous. It sometimes takes me an age to get to sleep.
Obvious effects of lack of sleep are irritability, lack of concentration and fatigue. But, a continued sleep problem can cause health problems. These include diabetes, obesity and raised blood pressure. As well as an increased risk of heart disease. Have a look at this article about sleep deprivation and diabetes, published in March 2019.
In 2013 the Sleep Council published a bedtime report. They asked around 5,000 survey participants lots of questions about their bedtime habits. One of the things the survey came up with was that men seem to sleep better than women. The survey also found that 47% of the participants said that stress or worry keeps them awake at night.
In 2017 the Sleep Council published another survey and compared the results to the 2013 survey. Have our sleeping habits improved? No. The survey says Britons are now getting less sleep than in 2013. More people are also using alcohol to help them sleep.
In 2013 16 per cent of people used alcohol to help them sleep. In 2017 it had risen to 25 per cent. Worry and anxiety are still keeping people awake at night. The number has risen though, from 45 per cent to 53 per cent.
Do What Babies Do
So, just what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Treat yourself like a baby, that’s what. If you have children you’ll no doubt remember how you created a routine for your child before bedtime. It usually started with supper, then a bath, followed by a bedtime story. If you were lucky your kids got into this routine and fell asleep easily after you’d kissed them goodnight.
Well, according to The Sleep Council, adults too should have a pre-sleep routine. About an hour before you go to bed you should start to relax and slow your mind down. By the time you do go to bed, you should be ready for sleep.
Things you can change to help you sleep
One of the things that can keep you awake at night is caffeine. We use caffeine to give us an energy boost, but it stays in your body for a long time. If you drink a caffeinated drink during the evening the caffeine will still be in your system when you go to bed. The ideal is to stop drinking caffeine after about 3 pm.
Next, take a good look at your bedroom. It needs to be cool and dark at night. If light from outside is disturbing you get some blackout curtains. Or, you can wear eyeshades.
Your routine could start after supper. Like your children, you could end the day with a relaxing bath. Afterwards, watch something light-hearted on the TV or read a book. Try to put your phone and your tablet or computer away. Remind yourself that you have finished for the day. You can tackle any problems or things you need to do the following day.
Meditation for Sleep
If you have trouble getting to sleep you could try meditation. There are apps like Headspace which has a free 10-day basic meditation course. You can also browse the sleep council’s website which is full of useful tips and tools to help you sleep.
If a routine isn’t helping and you’re still suffering from insomnia you could look into taking a sleep course. Sleepstation is an online cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia. In some parts of England, it is available on the NHS self-referral service. Otherwise, you can pay for the course. The cost is £95. For that, you get a sleep review, analysis and report. If you want to go ahead with an insomnia course you then have to pay for a plan that’s available for £285 or £485.
The insomniac clinic also offers an online course for £149. Or you can find a private therapist in your area for 50-minute sessions which start at £90 for a session.
Me? I’ve got into the habit of listening to an audiobook. It does mean I take my phone to bed, but I set the phone to turn off after an hour. It seems to do the trick especially if the narrator has got a soothing voice.