Millions of adults have sleep problems such as difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up earlier than they would like to and not being able to go back to sleep. Most people tend to accept their symptoms as a part of life, but remember that most sleep disorders can be treated. While some sleep disorders may need treatment by a specialist, many sleeping problems can be improved by self-help and care.
Keep a Sleep Diary
A record of your sleeping pattern and habit can help to identify the sleep disorder, and pinpoint problems in both day and night-time habits that may be possibly contributing to your difficulties. Some of the details that should be noted in the sleep diary include:
- The time you go to sleep and wake up in the morning.
- Total sleep hours and the quality of your sleep.
- How often do you wake up during the night and the time you stay awake for each time.
- Your activities before going to bed such as the type and amount of food, liquids, caffeine, or alcohol that you consume.
- How you feel the next day.
- If you take any naps in the daytime and how long do they last for.
- Your emotion and mood before going to bed. Are you happy, sad or anxious before bed?
- The drugs or medications you take including the dose and time of consumption.
This record can help to identify if your certain behaviour is causing your sleep disturbance and ruining your chance for a good night’s sleep. They can be activities such as having excessive coffee before bedtime which makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. Besides this, the record can prove to be helpful if you decide to go to see a sleep doctor.
Improve Your Sleep Habits
Although all sleep disorders cannot be cured by following good sleep habits but a consistent sleep routine and improved sleep habits can help you to sleep better.
- Try to maintain a scheduled bedtime. Wake up and sleep at the same time, even on weekends, regardless of the amount of sleep during the night.
- Avoid taking naps in the daytime as they can disturb your night sleep.
- Exercise regularly. Any kind of physical activity which you enjoy can be done for at least 20 to 30 minutes such as brisk walking, cycling and jogging. But avoid any stressful activity and vigorous exercise about two hours before your sleep time.
- Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation before going to bed. These can relax you and help to improve your sleep.
- Try and make your bedroom comfortable. Put dark and thick curtains to avoid light and use air conditioner to cool the room. If you find background noise disturbing, such as the ticking sound of the clock or the humming noise of the fan; use earplugs.
- If you can’t sleep, avoid lying awake in the bed and tossing and turning. Leave the bed and go to another room and do something relaxing and quiet. Read a book or listen to soft music and go to bed when you feel sleepy.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, coffee, tea, soft drinks, or diet pills before bedtime.
Good sleep habits can improve your sleep quality and duration of sleep but if self-help measures do not improve your sleep, consult a sleep specialist.
Read more articles on Understand Sleep Disorders.