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Why can't I sleep? Challenges & solutions part 3

Continuing our series of sleep challenges and what to do about them, we look at issues 10-14:

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

10) Technology

Technology can contribute to the clutter in your room, particularly if there are lots of cables and chargers around your sleeping space. In addition to all the physical bits and pieces that come with technology there’s also the stimulating nature of screens and gadgets to consider as this is in direct conflict to what your mind and body need at the end of the day. So, whether it’s TV, iPad, iPhone, tablet, Playstation or anything else with lights, moving images or sounds, be vigilant about how much you allow technology to interfere with your bedtime routine.

What can you do?

Set a time for when each piece of technology is switched off. An email cut off point is a great idea, as is a deadline for internet surfing and a time for the TV off switch. Ideally, none of this technology should be in your room at all while you sleep. This might mean finding a new way to wake yourself up in the morning if you regularly use your phone but on a positive note, if you sleep better without the phone in the room to distract you, you might not even need an alarm.

11) Noise

The level of interruption to sleep caused by noise can be quite subjective. Some people can tolerate living by busy railway lines or roads while others are disturbed by the sound of a cat sneaking by outside on tip toes. The key is to be honest with yourself about the noises that disrupt your sleep and take appropriate action.

What can you do?

Isolate the noises that keep you awake and do what you can to minimise them. Drastic measures might mean you have to switch rooms in the house but if it means the difference between a restful night or getting woken up by the bin men every week, it’ll be worth it.

You might think about getting some earplugs. Give some thought also to how you wake up. Soothing music to bring you into the day could be a good start but a raucous alarm might not put you in the best frame of mind. Light alarms that slowly brighten up your sleep space, simulating a natural dawn are becoming more popular.

12) Light

Total darkness is best for a good night’s sleep, which isn’t too much of a problem in the winter but can be an issue in the summer.

What can you do?

If daylight keeps you awake you might want to consider blackout blinds or sleep goggles. If it’s artificial light that keeps you awake during the winter months goggles can be the solution but also ask yourself if there really need tobe any lights on in the house at night. It’s usually children who request night lights but chances are it’s not great for their sleep quality either so encourage them to get used to the dark as soon as possible.

13) Coping strategies

Coping strategies is a general term for things we do every day that help us cope with life. The reason we’re highlighting them here is that some of the habits we’ve developed to cope with our daily routine, may have negative consequences on our nighttime routine.

What can you do?

Think about all of your daily habits – food, drink, activity, caffeine, alcohol, work tasks, travel, commuting, actions, reactions, planning, prioritising and everything else that happens between when you get up and when you go to bed.

Be completely honest with yourself about which of these habits might need to be altered to help you sleep better. Usually your first response here is the right one. If you suspect something might be a problem, tackle this suspicion first. Then address all the things that you think may interrupt your sleep in turn until you have a portfolio of coping strategies that are appropriate for helping you make each day a success and that don’t have any negative impact on your sleep at night.

14) A growing family

The final thing on the list would appear to be the one barrier to good sleep that you have the least control of. It’s also the one that can cause the most major disruption. New babies wake up a lot and so do their parents. When you’re in the eye of the storm it seems to go on forever and you swear you’ll never do it again. But many people do.

What can you do?

With a new baby in the house you don’t have control of the quantity of the sleep you get, or the times at which you might be allowed to sleep. But you can control the quality of your sleep so this is the area to focus on. All of the advice above becomes even more important when you’re sleep deprived so be vigilant that you make sensible lifestyle choices and prioritise your sleep whenever you can to get you through this period when you are legitimately allowed to put some of the other stuff of life on the back burner.



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