A lack of sleep can be a big problem. Firstly it leaves you feeling tired, depleted and lethargic. Making it harder to concentrate and complete your daily tasks. For those of you who struggle to get a sufficient amount of sleep, you then begin to worry and over think the process of going to sleep. This in turn makes it even harder to get that much needed deep sleep.
Problems with sleep can lead to the development of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety. As your mind becomes tired, you are likely to feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to process your thoughts. Poor sleep can trigger off a mental health episode (if you already have a disorder) and can prevent you from socialising with friends and family.
If you think you have, or already have a diagnosed mental illness you are likely to have a harder time, getting some sleep.
Medications can have side affects which lead to over sleeping, being unable to sleep or disturbed sleep. Similarly some illnesses such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can cause you to sleep for much longer periods than is usual for you. Even during the day when you are expected to be at your peak performance, in terms of working. Other disorders such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can create anxiety about falling asleep especially if you are prone to night terrors, etc.
So what are the top things to do to get a better nights sleep?
Develop a routine:
Avoid using electronic devices 30-60minutes before bed, have a warm relaxing soak in the bath, try breathing exercises or yoga to relax the mind and body.
Create a nice sleeping environment:
Again avoid electronics in the bedroom or things that may distract you. Keep a book by your bed should you need help falling asleep during the night. Make sure you have a good mattress with comfortable sheets and pillows.
Try to resolve issues before bedtime:
If you have any worries try to talk to someone about it during the day, write down things you need to do and what might get in your way of doing them-then put the list away.
Keeping a journal:
You can use this to express thoughts and feelings however keeping a log of what you eat, your daily activities and a note of any medications is key. In doing so, you can look back over nights where you had more satisfying sleep. What you notice you can do more of, promoting better sleep more often.
If you are still concerned do seek out professionals who can help. Meditation practioners, herbalists and even a hypnotherapist may be able to support you. Alongside a therapist, psychiatrist or your General Practioner. Online support is also available from Narcolepsy Uk (www.narcolepsy.org.uk) as well as The Sleep Apnoea Trust (www.sleep-apnoea-trust.org).