Sleeping Problems: What They Are & How They Manifest
Reviewed by our psychologist : Carlos Hoogenboom
Did you know that around one in five people struggles with a sleep disorder? It’s much common than you’d think. Fortunately, this area has been well researched and there are various techniques you can use to tackle the problem. This selection of tips and advice from psychologists will let you know what you should be doing if you’re struggling to drift off. Ready to jump straight into these tips and tricks? Try to follow them for at least four to six weeks if you want to see good results.
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12 Tips for Better Sleep
Improve your sleep hygiene with these tips
- Take a few short moments to rest during the day. For example, you could do a breathing exercise or practice meditation. Even just taking five minutes to stare into space each day will help.
- Start your day by getting plenty of (day)light This helps to stabilize your regular sleep rhythm and signals the transition from night to day to your body. So, open your curtains straight away as soon as your alarm goes off. This is particularly important in the winter when the days get shorter.
- Tip: There are also daylight lamps and glasses that can help you here.
- Did you have a bad night? Try to sleep a little during the day with a power nap of no more than 20 to 30 minutes. Set your alarm clock as soon as you lie down and don’t let yourself nap after 3 pm. This might interfere with your night’s sleep.
- Tip: Drink a cup of coffee just before you lie down and set your alarm for 25 minutes. By the time your alarm goes off, your caffeine will have kicked in and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed!
- Avoid blue light before you go to sleep. Switch off all your digital screens an hour before bedtime. That means no TVs, no phones, no tablets, no e-readers (unless you can switch off the light). These devices disrupt your melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep.
- Relax before bed. Go for a short walk before you go to sleep or do a few yoga exercises that you find relaxing. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea, or another type of sleep tea, can become part of a soothing ritual. For some people, it helps to keep a journal. Figure out what works best for you and what helps you to unwind.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal right before you go to sleep. Make sure that you’re not eating too late so that your body gets a chance to rest. Are you still hungry in the evenings? Then eat something that digests quickly, like a piece of fruit or a pot of yoghurt.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine. It’s always tempting to reach for a nightcap when you want to send yourself off to sleep. Alcohol might help you to drift off, but your sleep will be more disturbed and you’ll find that you wake more easily throughout the night. Nicotine, on the other hand, is a stimulant: It makes you alert and sharp, which is exactly the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.
- Sleep in a cool, dark room. Invest in blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask. Is there a lot of noise where you live, for example, cars driving down the street? Then earplugs might be the solution.
- Only use your bedroom for sleep and sex. And keep the room nice and tidy. It’s better to watch TV, use your computer, work, or do other activities in a different room.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Train yourself to stick to a sleep schedule, so that you’re always going to sleep at the same time. You don’t have to be too precise about it, but routine will really help if you’re trying to sleep better. Also, always set your alarm to avoid sleeping in too late. You don’t want to wake up feeling groggy. Obviously, staying up every once in a while, to go to a party, for example, isn’t going to do you any harm.
- Do you wake up a lot during the night? Turn your clock around so that you can’t see what time it is when you wake up in the middle of the night. As soon as you see that it’s “only 1:15 am”, anxious thoughts tend to creep in. And if it’s “already 6:05 am” you might feel stressed that your alarm is going to go off in an hour. The result is that you’ll have disturbed sleep and maybe struggle to drift off again.
- If you haven’t fallen asleep after 15 minutes, get out of bed. Trying to toss and turn until you fall asleep is often counterproductive. Instead, read a few pages of a book, put on some relaxing music or make a cup of tea to get yourself feeling tired again. Make sure to get up the next morning at your usual time. You may well feel tired during the day because of your restless night, but at least you’ll drift off easily the following evening and sleep right through. And you can always have a power nap in the afternoon.
Treatment for sleeping problems
Maybe you’ve tried all of these tips and tricks for a better night’s sleep, but you’re still struggling with sleeping problems. Wouldn’t you love to be free from these problems once and for all? Then therapy might be the solution for you.
Therapy for poor sleep
What beliefs do you have when it comes to sleep? And are these affecting your sleeping pattern? For example: “When I don’t sleep well then I’m not good for anything the following morning and I can’t do my job properly.”. This is a thought pattern that can interfere with your ability to sleep. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) you’ll learn how to re-frame your thoughts. Sleep restriction is another effective way to treat this problem. By sleeping for fewer hours per night, the hours during which you would lie awake (worrying) are eliminated. This means that the only hours that remain are the ones dedicated to good sleep.
Would you like some help overcoming your sleeping problems? Why not make an appointment with one of our psychologists? They offer various treatment methods that can help you to sleep soundly again and start your day feeling well-rested.
Do you have any questions about sleeping problems and how you can treat them? Call us on +3120 214 3004.