Getting a good night’s sleep affects everything from one’s moods and weight through to stress levels and overall wellbeing. While doctors recommend a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night, many people juggling a career with family life find it impossible to enjoy a proper night’s sleep. Normal functionality is reduced without a good night’s sleep, and long and short-term health problems are also common. It’s not only about getting enough sleep but also about creating a regular pattern that involves going to sleep at the same time each night. Another problem is staggering sleep where a person will sleep for five hours in the night, grab an hour’s nap mid-morning and another hour in the afternoon. This broken pattern can be just as detrimental as not enough sleep, as the human body needs to partially shut down for a set period of time in order to recharge.
What affects an ability to sleep?
Many people living in the hectic modern world find it hard to create a regular sleeping pattern and neglect a good night’s rest. This is usually due to worry or stress, which can make it hard to shut down. After all, when else does the average person have time to think about their health issues or problems other than when their head hits the pillow? Getting into bed is often the first part of the day when there aren’t any children around, managers aren’t demanding anything, the phone isn’t ringing, the housework has been done and the dog doesn’t need to be walked. For many, going to bed is the only free time to analyze a day or get caught up worrying about problems, which are major contributing factors to a restless night.
The ability to switch off and shut down doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and other common causes for a lack of sleep can include:
- A new baby.
- Noisy neighbors.
- A snoring/fidgeting spouse.
- Bad weather.
- An uncomfortable bed.
- Drinking too many caffeinated drinks.
How to combat the problem
Specialists can help with sleep problems either through therapy or medication. Finding a specific neurology practice that specializes in helping patients to learn how to alter their lifestyle to create an attainable sleeping pattern is a highly effective way to get professional help. Simply ignoring the problem can lead to further sleep deprivation through additional worry, and putting up with a lack of sleep due to living a busy life is far from ideal. A doctor specializing in sleep disorders can be found online or through a recommendation, and a GP will be able to steer you in the right direction.
One of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep is to create a realistic goal by working out an achievable pattern and sticking to it. Instead of getting caught up with the issues causing the sleep problem, address the issue.
For example, if the bed is uncomfortable, buy a new one, and if the neighbors are too loud, wear ear plugs. Put down that extra cup of coffee or put on an eye mask. Reducing stress levels before going to bed helps the brain to rest, and this might mean taking an hour to do something personal such as having a massage, taking a hot bath or talking to someone about a lingering problem. This means that when one is ready to get into bed, the brain and body is already in a state of calm, and falling asleep comes easier.
Other effective steps to take to getting a good night’s sleep include:
- Improve a diet.
- Get more exercise.
- Create a calming bedroom space.
- Go to the toilet before climbing into bed.
- Use dim lamps rather than bright lights.
- Do a relaxing activity such as yoga.
The importance of being proactive
Living a happy and healthy lifestyle is about achieving goals and doing things that makes one feel content and getting enough sleep each night is directly linked to everything from cognitive ability to rationality. Being able to function at work to reach career aspirations, having the energy to ensure children are receiving the right guidance and being sure spouses are getting enough emotional attention all require the body and brain to get an adequate amount of rest. From changing a caffeine-fueled diet or taking a soothing bath before bed through to wearing an eye mask or visiting a specialist for in-depth help, there are ways to effectively improve a damaging sleeping pattern that can significantly improve quality of life.