Getting a good night’s sleep might be simple for some, but for many, it remains an elusive dream for long periods of time. Scientists have studied various sleep patterns for years and while some of us might be curious about what they’ve found, the bottom line for everyone is how to get a good night’s sleep.
There are several techniques that have helped with troubled sleep, but invariably, for those who regularly feel tired after sleeping, there seems to be something more psychological at stake.
Essentially there is no blanket cure for a bad night’s sleep because the reasons for it vary considerably.
For instance, how could you expect a good night’s sleep if you broke your leg skiing that day and you’re trussed up in a hospital bed overnight? Every time you turn, you feel pain, someone’s left the light on down the hallway, and the room is just too bright!
Or what about serious emotional trauma, the recent departure of a long-term partner, or the death of a close friend?
And there is a whole range of ‘less’ serious emotional issues, which could upset some individuals considerably. A child fails an exam. What could it mean for the future? I thought they were doing so well. What could I have done to help? What should they have done? Are they overreaching, and I’m not facing up to it?
Members of Alcoholics Anonymous often speak about what they call the ‘what ifs’. Many long-timers always warn that ‘it’s the what ifs that always get ya,’ and often go on to talk about what they call ‘the committee meeting in the head.’
It doesn’t happen with everyone of course, but many of us are just too busy when we go to bed. Or, we fall asleep in the beginning from the sheer exhaustion of a busy day but then wake up in the middle of the night and that’s when ‘the committee meeting’ starts.
Calm yourself before going to bed. Switch off the TV at least an hour beforehand. Keep a notepad hand. If you think of something you need to do tomorrow, write it down immediately.
Doing this helps take away the ‘fear’ that can occur when you wake up in the middle of the night and realise you haven’t put something in your phone diary or calendar.
Meditation is another known way to calm yourself before sleeping.
The sleepdoctor.com site is totally dedicated to helping you get a good night’s sleep. In fact, they regard sleep as one of the primary requirements for good health – a sentiment this site fully endorses.
The bottom line here is that if you are having trouble sleeping all hope is not lost but you need to develop your process for diagnosing and then eventually managing yourself out of it.
Here are ten great sleep tips from MindBodyGreen writer, Michelle Bland.
- Keep a consistent schedule.
- Take a nap if needed.
- Increase your light exposure during the day.
- Naturally, boost your melatonin at night.
- Make your bedroom more inviting and calming.
- Eat dinner earlier in the evening.
- Cut down on the caffeine.
- Get movement into your day.
- Relaxation and deep breathing.
- Don’t stress about sleep.
Not everyone can find a magic bullet to better sleep, but a key ingredient of virtually all programmes on this subject is that you find a way of changing your current routine.
When you can’t sleep properly the idea of getting a good night’s sleep almost continually occupies your mind.
You need to change what you are doing (relaxation techniques, switching off computers and social media earlier etc) before you can change your way of thinking.
Sleep patterns can also change as we age. Issues such as RLS (restless leg syndrome) are mostly a feature of age but not always and then of course, there is the problem of sleep apnea which can affect large numbers of older adults.
There is no simple answer to a better night’s sleep for everyone because the individual reasons for it can vary considerably. It generally boils down to reviewing your pre-sleep pattern and trying various solutions to find what works best.
THE US MILITARY SOLUTION
The US military developed the following solution that, it is claimed, helps stressed combat personnel fall asleep in under two minutes
Firstly, you have to relax the muscles in your face, including your tongue, jaw, and the muscles that are around your eyes.
Then you should drop your shoulders as low as they’ll go before relaxing your upper and lower arm on one side, and then the other.
The next step involves breathing and says you should breathe out, relax your chest and then, finally, relax your legs. You should start with your thighs and then move down to your lower legs.
After consciously relaxing your body for ten seconds, you then need to clear your mind completely.
The following methods may help you do that:
- Picture yourself lying in a canoe on a calm lake, with nothing but blue sky above you.
- You can also picture yourself snuggled in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room.
- And finally, you can also try saying ‘don’t think, don’t think, don’t think’ over and over again for ten seconds.