Do you ever get one of those nights when you are exhausted, and can’t wait to get to bed. As soon as you lay your head on the pillow, zing, you are wide awake! Or you drop off, only to wake up an hour or so later, then that’s it for the rest of the night. Sound familiar? Its so frustrating isn’t it! That is what happened to me on Thursday night.
I was working on my laptop for most of the evening, but by 9 pm I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I get up just after 5 am each morning to walk the dogs, so to make sure I get my 8 hours in, this would be around my usual bedtime.
I slowly got myself ready for bed, settling down around 9.30 pm. I fell to sleep almost immediately, only to wake up around 11 pm. That was it for the rest of the night. By midnight I decided enough was enough and got up. I took the opportunity to put the dogs in the garden for a quick toilet break. I was tempted to make a cup of green tea, but decided against it. At this point, I thought I would be able to get back to sleep, so didn’t want to have to get up again to pop to the bathroom during the night!
Half an hour later, I go back to bed. Now here is a warning, don’t keep looking at the clock when you can’t sleep! It makes you even more frustrated! At 2 am I decide to play a bit of Candy Crush. At this point my husband wakes up. He tells me off for playing on my phone as he says it won’t help me get to sleep! I don’t know why, but this sends me into a fit of hysterics. Not helpful when you are trying to sleep, but it did stop me feeling as frustrated!
By 4 am, I finally dropped off, only to be woken at 5.22 am by Lola, who was wondering why we were not up getting ready to walk her! She really does like routine! My alarm goes off at 5.25 am which is my latest time I should be up to walk the dogs, and she knows it! In fact you don’t need an alarm clock with her around.
I am absolutely exhausted. I have a full day at work ahead. The only saving grace is that it’s a Friday, so tomorrow I know I can have a lie in!
The day was as busy as I expected. I even managed to get a session at the gym in. It was a good job that I was on the go, as the minute I stopped later in the evening, I was completely done in! I can understand why they used sleep deprivation as torture years again!
Why couldn’t I sleep? I really don’t know. I had been stressed out for the few weeks previous, but that had been resolved. Maybe without realising it I was still thinking about it, or maybe it was the fact that unlike other evenings where I would watch TV before bed, I had been working on my laptop! What I do know is that I need my sleep!
How much sleep do we need?
Most people need around 7-8 hours a day to properly function. Young children and especially teenagers need a lot more.
Some people can manage on a bit less than this, everyone is different. The key is to ensure that whatever your body feels comfortable at, you ensure you give yourself enough time to achieve it.
Some people are good at having a nap in the middle of the day. I personally can’t do this. On the rare occasion I do, I wake up more grumpy! I am better going to bed earlier and making up the time.
What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
If you don’t get a good nights sleep, you will probably feel exhausted, even a little grumpy, as well as difficulty in concentrating.
The odd late night won’t hurt you, however if you continuously deprive yourself of sleep, this could effect your health. Potential conditions could be obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety. Your immune system will be low so you are more likely to catch colds and flu. Your body is less able to fight off any bugs flying around. Your sex drive drops and you may suffer reduced fertility. Not forgetting the risk of having an accident as you lose concentration.
Diabetes – Type 2 Diabetes is caused as your body struggles to process glucose (high energy carbohydrate which our bodies use for fuel).
Heart Disease – Increases in your heart rate, blood pressure and chemicals linked to inflammation, can put additional strain on your heart.
Sex Drive – Libidos drop in both men and women when they are tired. Lack of energy can reduce your interest in sex also.
Fertility – A reduction of the secretion of the reproductive hormones can impact on your ability to conceive.
Can lack of sleep make you put on weight?
You may be surprised to know that yes it can! Studies have shown that the less sleep you have, the more likely you are to be overweight. Why? It is thought that the less sleep you have, the more your leptin levels are reduced. Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full. In comparison, your ghrelin levels increase. Ghrelin is a hunger stimulating hormone.
So how to I ensure I get enough sleep?
There are a few things you can do to help you get a good nights sleep:-
Get into a good routine – It sounds silly but by going to bed at the same time each night will help your body clock.
Relax – Make sure you are calm and relaxed before you go to bed. Have a soak in the bath, listen to music (obviously not heavy metal!), read a book or magazine or watch something on TV that helps you relax. Avoid having that argument just before bedtime!
Ban the mobile phone or laptop – Playing on your phone or computer in bed is thought to suppress the bodies production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.
Cut out light – Having a dark room will help you sleep. Try blackout blinds or curtains, especially in the summer months.
Don’t drink alcohol & caffeine – These are two of the biggest culprits of you not sleeping! Caffeine is a stimulant. Great to help you stay awake, but terrible for getting you to sleep! Alcohol is a sedative which does make you feel tired, however it disrupts the quality of sleep you have. You should avoid alcohol for 3 hours before going to bed.
If you want a drink, go for herbal teas, milk or a glass of water. Be careful though! If you drink too much before bedtime, you will be up visiting the bathroom during the night, which will again impact on your sleep!
Get comfortable – Is your bed comfortable? If not, is it time for a new one or a new mattress? What is the temperature like? If like me you are going through the menopause, you could be having a lot of hot flushes! Or it could just be your room is too warm! Open the window, get a lower tog quilt.
Don’t forget about what you wear in bed! Make sure it is comfortable too!
Who is in bed with you? I am referring to our furry friends! Get them to sleep in their own beds. I know with my two dogs, given half the chance they would take up all the room, or sleep so close to us they are almost lying on us!
Go into the spare room! – I don’t know about you, but some nights I could seriously harm my husband with his snoring! Rather than that, take yourself off to the spare room, or send them to it if you can wake them up! Believe you me, you will be surprised at how many couples say the secret to their relationship is separate beds!
What do you do if you can’t sleep?
You would think that if you lie there long enough you will eventually fall asleep. This isn’t true though! If you haven’t dropped back off after 15-20 minutes, get up! Do something relaxing, then go back to bed and try again.
If something is on our mind, write it down. This may help you put it to the back of your mind until tomorrow.
If you continue to struggle with sleep, go and see your GP, just in case there is any other health condition stopping you sleeping. It may be a simple change needed in our lifestyle, medication or they can give you other strategies to help you.