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How to sleep well when…

25 October 2022

Millions of people around Britain suffer from insomnia, while millions more would probably categorise themselves as having some kind of sleep issues.

Whatever the exact reasons - and we will be going into a few here - we, as a society, are sleeping worse than we ever have. The consequences of not getting enough sleep can be dramatic and involve symptoms like depression, stress, anxiety, weight gain, moodiness, and many more.

There are thousands of pages online that promise ‘sleep hacks’ but in reality, sleep is something without a one size fits all remedy. Each person and how they sleep are different, while there might even be times when an individual needs to alter their sleeping habits because of certain external or even internal reasons.

Here’s our guide to sleeping well when certain specific situations make it that little bit harder.

I’m stressed

Perhaps the most common reason that our sleep often remains tantalisingly out of reach, is that our brain is usually still thundering like an express train. Thoughts, emotions, highs, and lows, are constantly being broadcast and our brain remains buzzing with alertness.

Happy thoughts are not the problem and we can usually fall asleep easily if we’ve just had a wonderful day, doing exactly what we love and surrounded by those dearest to us. No, the problem is the negativity that almost all of us churn around our minds. These negative thoughts can quickly turn to stress and anxiety, especially when they might concern something that needs to be done the following day, and when it kicks in, sleep can become well out of reach.

Dealing with stress is an issue that goes far beyond simply sleeping. With mental health problems erupting in recent decades, we are experiencing levels of stress, anxiety, and depression at previously unheard-of levels. While it can be tempting to numb the stress with alcohol or drugs (either legal sleeping pills or illegal alternatives) they do have a habit of disrupting your overall sleep, even if there is a short period of relative calm.

A better way is to try and manufacture a sense of relaxation before going to bed. This might include reading something you love, turning down the lights, putting some soothing music on, and doing some yoga or meditation.        

I’m too hot

During the summer months, sleeping can become a real issue in houses that tend to keep all the heat in, rather than allow it to disperse. This is great for keeping us warm in winter but has a habit of creating a stifling atmosphere when the thermometer begins to climb.

One of the easiest ways to address this is by simply opening a window, though if you live in a rural environment, having the birds erupting in song at 4 am might be even worse than being hot. An alternative is to take a warm shower shortly before going to bed. This will help to speed up the body’s natural drop in temperature when you crawl beneath those sheets.

Other methods to try include; putting your sheets in a plastic bag and placing them in the freezer for half an hour before (sounds crazy but trust us, it feels wonderful on a scorching evening,) placing a fan with a bowl of ice in front of it so it will gradually blow ice cold vapour in your direction and also drinking a large glass of chilled water before you go to bed, which will help to keep your body cool and well hydrated, even when you start sweating buckets.  

I’m not tired

If you are one of those people who goes to bed feeling tired and then lies awake staring at the ceiling for the next few hours, then you're not alone. When we begin to feel sluggish in the evening, it can be tempting to assume that that means it’s time for sleep, but our bodies rarely work smoothly.

It’s always a good idea to slowly prepare for sleep over a few hours. This involves gradually winding down with activities that don’t leave your mind racing, which ideally means no smartphones, social media, and limiting TV.

There are a few tricks that can help the body prepare for sleep. Light is a big factor and having a comfortably dimmed ambience is going to encourage sleep much better than bright lights. The human brain is also excellent at registering darkness, so if you can nip outside and experience the night sky and stars above, it will begin sending critical signals to the body that it’s time to rest.   

Not being able to sleep might also come down to the simple reason that you haven’t done enough that day to warrant feeling tired. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle means that more and more of us are simply moving from home to office chair and back again, and while our brain may have had a good workout, our body has not had enough of the physical movement it craves. Exercise is not only a vital part of being healthy, it’s the cornerstone of getting a good night’s sleep.  

I’m in pain

It’s all well and good having problems sleeping because of the temperature or an overly active brain, but what about when you are in genuine pain? This can be the most difficult to overcome because not being able to sleep in your preferred and natural sleeping position often just feels wrong, but if you’re suffering specific problems it may be your only choice.

If this is the case, your options will come down to two choices; your bed and your sleeping position. Most issues tend to be back related and there are several positions you can try to address specific problems.

However, with serious issues, it might be a case of investing in a new bed. FlexiSpot’s Adjustable Bed Base is an excellent choice whether you’re suffering from back pain or not, but its head adjustment range between 0 and 60 degrees enables you to create that perfect sleeping position that targets your specific ailment. Great for relieving back pain, enabling better access for the elderly, as well as reducing snoring, sleep apnea, and discomfort during pregnancy.