So who stole my sleep? Many people find it difficult to pinpoint exactly when they started to find it difficult to sleep. Sometimes it seems to just creep up on you. What starts as an occasional night of sleeplessness becomes, months or even years of poor quality sleep.
Sleep is not a luxury that you can live without. You need your sleep if you want to be physically and mentally at your best. Lack of sleep will not only affect your health, it will also affect your relationships, your safety and your ability to function well during the day. It is important to find out what has stolen your sleep.
Launching a full scale investigation starts during the day. How you live and what is happening in your life will affect the way you sleep. To improve your sleep you need to be honest about how important sleep is to your life. Take a look at the following, and see if any of these could be factors in your sleep problems.
Start by tracing back the problem. If you can remember when you started to find it difficult to sleep you may be able to recall an event or situation that triggered your sleeplessness. It may be a move, life event such as sharing with a new partner or having a baby, anxiety over work or money problems or many other changes. Physical changes such as losing or putting on weight; illness or pain will also have an affect on your ability to sleep.
If you can identify the ‘trigger’ to your problem, you may be able to deal with the cause and get back to sleep. If this is an environmental problem such as a change in bed or a disturbing noise you will be able to make some changes that will improve your sleep.
Other problems are not always so easy to solve – in the short-term. If there are physical or psychological causes behind your sleep problems these will need to be faced if you are to improve your sleep.
As you investigate further you may discover a history of sleep problems. Perhaps you found it difficult to sleep as a child, were an early waker or a late sleeper. These discoveries will all help direct you towards the real causes of your sleep difficulties. You may even discover a family history of sleep difficulties. Keep on the trail until you have a full background.
There are many factors that can affect the way you are sleeping now. You may have identified when your problem started, but even though the ‘trigger’ has passed or been resolved, you are still finding it difficult to sleep. Somehow your mind and body have become locked into a pattern which you find it impossible to escape.
You may have a lot to cope with and find it almost impossible to relax and let go of the day’s events. Anxiety and depression will affect your life and your sleep, creating that vicious circle.
There may be lifestyle factors such as your diet, alcohol, lack of exercise or time to relax that will all take their toll on your ability to sleep. Many people simply don’t have enough time to sleep – snatching a few hours between work and play. Late night TV, the internet and nights out on the town will leave you with an overactive mind and unprepared for a peaceful night.
Our age will also affect our need and ability to sleep. Illness, medication and psychological problems will make it hard to relax and change the quality of our sleep.
Trying too hard to sleep will also cause anxiety which will affect your ability to do what, for others, is an automatic response to being tired.
Environmental factors are often the easiest to resolve. The bedroom is the ‘crime scene’. Look for clues that might be affecting your sleep. Temperature, noise and light may all be intruders into your right to a peaceful night. Your bed is your property. Keep it safe from intruders. Ban anything or anyone that has no right to your bedroom and make it a ‘sleep safe’ environment.
Find the clues, identify the culprits and then find the way to claim back your sleep.
Now that you have some idea of some of the possible reasons for your sleep difficulties, it is time to look to the future. You may be able to improve the quality of your sleep simply by identifying the factors that are intruding on your ability to fall or stay asleep. For many this is not so easy and it may require more commitment, and even professional help.
Worrying about not having enough sleep will only make it harder to relax and drift off. There are many ways of improving sleep quality and with persistence you will be able to improve your relaxation tools and your ability to sleep.