How to Get Enough Sleep when you have Trouble Sleeping
Every person in the world has trouble sleeping at one time or another. The range of causes is wide and varied and to pinpoint exactly why you may be having trouble sleeping can range from a poor sleeping pattern to acute insomnia and everything in between. Medical conditions aside, it’s still normal to have trouble sleeping on occasion.
I’m going to mention some things that affect your sleeping patterns and hopefully, it’ll help you deal with your sleep problems.
Trouble Sleeping? Check the Bed you Sleep on
Some people can only sleep on a certain kind of bed. That’s why some of the bedding companies have come out with sleep numbers to classify their beds and mattresses. Mostly, they’re talking about the softness or firmness of the mattresses, but they fail to discuss other factors.
There are more sleeping positions than I can shake a stick at, but here are a few to think about:
- Supine – On your back, with or without a pillow. I slept like this for years until my wife couldn’t listen to my snoring anymore.
- Prone – On your stomach. Some people sleep well like this but I never could.
- Fetal – Curled up on your side, in a ball, like an unborn baby.
- Recovery – Lying on your side, but pretty much stretched out.
Some people like to lie on an arm when in a sideways position, with the arm tucked under a pillow. It often causes the arm to “go to sleep” and they end up having to readjust eventually. Some pillow makers have created pillows with arm slots designed specifically for people like this. A contour pillow, another design, is for the person who likes to sleep on his or her back, with the lower part of the pillow higher than the upper part of the pillow to support the neck.
During my 20-year stint in the military, I learned to sleep anywhere at anytime – I never had trouble sleeping. When you’re tired, worn out, and you haven’t had much sleep to begin with, you can sleep on the ground, on a cold cement floor, or even while sitting and resting against a wall.
Trouble Sleeping? Try getting some Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle can do one of two things when it comes to sleep. It can either cause you to sleep more or it can cause you to sleep less. It all depends on how much you use your brain while living a sedentary life.
If you’re not mentally active and you’re not physically active, it’s quite normal to sleep less than six hours per 24-hour period. If you think about it, it makes sense. If you’re in a “rest” position most of the day anyway, why would your body need much more during sleep?
If you are mentally active while not being physically active, the mental activity can take a toll in itself and you can still need eight plus hours of sleep per day. I don’t know many people who fit into this category, other than students with a lot of homework (when they do their homework).
It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to make your body crave sleep. Twenty minutes to an hour per day is enough, depending on how intense the exercise happens to be.
Trouble Sleeping? Consider your Age and Stress Levels
Your age and your lifestyle have a lot to do with how long or how well you sleep. It’s quite common for people in their middle ages on up to nap during the day for 2-4 hours and then to sleep for 4-6 hours at night. Of course, this also depends on the work cycle. Older people who still have full-time jobs can end up sleeping as much or more than the younger people.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to sleeping.
The stress of living day-to-day can be enough to cause you to have trouble sleeping. If you find yourself thinking about what you need to get done tomorrow, while trying to sleep tonight, your level of mental stress can keep you awake. If you find yourself doing this, then learn to take notes and keep a notepad next to your bed. You’ll find this can be a brain-saver in itself.
Of course, there are other things you think about while trying to sleep and that’s part of the problem – trying to sleep. Sleep should come naturally and if it doesn’t, then you need to adjust your sleeping pattern. Perhaps you need to go to sleep earlier or later and it all depends on how long it’s been since you’ve done any activity, since you’ve eaten, and other factors.
Frankly, I’ve never figured out why anyone (without a medical condition) has prolonged trouble sleeping. Sleep problems, for normal people, should be an exception.
If you’re trying to normalize your sleep cycle, and your sleeping hours are out of sync with the rest of your life (like sleeping from 4 am to noon when you want to sleep from 10 pm to 6 am), delaying your sleep until the next night can correct the problem in short order. This is the method I use when I’m dealing with “jet lag”. That first couple of days following a change in time zone can seem like hell, but it’s worth it in getting back to a normal sleep cycle as quickly as possible.
Your sleeping environment could be an issue. Too much light, too much noise or even problems with frequent urination can cause unnecessary sleep interruptions. If light is an issue, you may want to invest in something that covers your eyes. If noise is an issue, you may want to invest in ear plugs. It doesn’t matter what you do to make your sleeping environment conducive to sleep except that you need to do it and not put it off if you’re having trouble sleeping now.
Trouble Sleeping? Try the Pro-active Approach
If you can’t get enough sleep, you need to act immediately. A prolonged lack of sleep can cause a whole range of mental conditions ranging from irritability to hallucinations.
If your sleeping environment isn’t a good environment, perhaps changing your environment may be the answer. If your bed isn’t comfortable, do something about it.
Needless to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, you don’t need drugs or alcohol to go to sleep. If you think you do, then you need to check your sleeping habits.