Why can't I sleep? Challenges & solutions part 2

Continuing our series of sleep challenges and what to do about them, we look at issues 5-9:

1. Family / partner / children

2. Relationships

3. You have a busy, stressful day. Most days.

4. What you eat

5. What you drink

6. How much you move

7. I can’t fall asleep

8. Room temperature

9. Keeping things tidy

10. Technology

11. Noise

12. Light

13. Coping strategies

14. A growing family

5) What you drink

Whether it be coffees, teas, water, juices, alcohol, energy drinks or sports drinks; the liquids we consume can impact on our sleep. Too much sugar or too much caffeine in our drinks will over stimulate the system, and drinking liquids close to bedtime can stop you sleeping or wake you up in the night to go to the loo.

Alcohol may help you drop off but can also compromise the quality of your sleep by limiting your ability to get into the deeper stages of sleep.

What can you do?

  • Stay hydrated but spread your water intake over the entire day

  • Aim for a maximum of 2 caffeinated drinks per day whether this is coffee, tea or fizzy drinks

  • Drink alcohol with food rather than on its own and experiment with the alcohol intake that helps you relax without disrupting your sleep. This could be 1 or 2 drinks in the evening with at least 2 or 3 evenings without alcohol per week. Many people report better sleep by avoiding alcohol

  • Don’t drink anything, not even herbal teas of cocoa, too close to bedtime or you will risk being woken up by your bladder

6) How much you move

Getting active should tire you out and help you sleep but it pays to be selective about the activities you choose and when you take part in these activities.

What can you do?

Read the information sheet on ‘Sleep & Exercise’ and plan your weekly activities carefully to boost your energy when you need it and to help you relax and sleep well when appropriate.

7) I can’t fall asleep

If you can’t fall asleep it’s likely that your mind is still in a state more suited to daytime functioning than it is for a relaxing night of rest. It’s not possible to relax and fall asleep at the same pace as you run your daily routine so you must find ways to make the transition from awake and busy to calm and relaxed.

What can you do?

Make sure there is a clear process to move you from your daily state of readiness to your nighttime state of relaxation. Practice and refine your optimum pre-sleep routine. It’ll look something like this. Working backwards from your chosen sleep time:

  • Set aside time to read / listen to music / relax. Think about what you read / 
listen to. Don’t pick anything too stimulating 

  • Turn technology / TV off 

  • Eat your last meal / snack of the day 

  • Complete your final exercise / activity for the day 

  • Close down your personal / family routine for the day 

  • Set time aside for evening tasks – calls, email, socialising, research, 
domestic chores, fun stuff 

  • Close down your work routine for the day 

Make sure that you:

  • Allocate guideline times for each part of your pre-sleep routine that suit
your circumstances