Sleep Better: Lie-ins and Nightcaps could be Harming your Sleep. | Knutsford Times

Sleep Better: Lie-ins and Nightcaps could be Harming your Sleep.

By on February 12, 2009

Throughout our lives, when faced by a stressful situation at work or at home, the normal response is to completely commit and work intensely hard to resolving it.

To do this people usually tend to work longer hours, cancel catching up with close friends after work, postponing weekend breakaways and the situation can also result in cutting back on sleep, all to make more time to tackle the problem.

If the issue is short-term, then the negative effects will be minimal and the results will be worth the sleepless nights and anti-social behaviour. However, if this level of hard work is sustained for a long time without relief, people increasingly risk of conditions such as insomnia and burnout.

Rest differs from sleep as rest is what we do to let stress subside. Resting at the end of a day, and at the end of a week, helps us to calm down and wind down. Doing fun things that we enjoy in our leisure time compensates us for the stresses we experience at work, bringing some balance back into life. This is particularly important if we routinely experience unpleasant levels of stress and responsibility.

If we are regularly short of sleep, then our concentration and our effectiveness suffer and our energy levels decline. We have all seen and experienced this. This diminishes our effectiveness in our job, and can therefore increase stress: As our concentration wanders, we start to make mistakes. As our energy declines, we become less proactive in what we do, reducing our control over events. This means that a situation that is already difficult and stressful can become worse, needing even more sacrifice to bring it back under control.

Make sure you get enough sleep. You will be amazed by how sharp and energetic you will feel once you start sleeping normally.
When we are anxious or stressed about a particular situation, we often find it difficult to get to sleep as thoughts keep on whizzing through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. Make sure that you stop doing mentally demanding work several hours before coming to bed – give your brain time to calm down before trying to sleep. Try reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes, again to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that are worrying you. Write persistent thoughts and worries down in a notebook and then put them out of your mind. Review the notebook in the morning and take action if appropriate. Keep the same bedtime. Let your body and mind get used to a predictable routine. Finally cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Some people find that they sleep badly if they drink coffee or cola after 4pm. Others find that if they drink alcohol to excess, they wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep.

•    Breathe, using your abdomen not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out for five seconds. Pause for three seconds before breathing in again. Practise this for ten minutes at night
•    Abandon the bedroom and find something absorbing to do. Don’t go to bed until you begin to feel tired.
•    Exercise is a great way to improve sleep. Don’t to do it close to bed time as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
•    Exercising in the morning is a great way to wake up. Going for an aerobic run releases stimulants into the body.
•    Your bedroom should be for sleeping only. Avoid adding televisions, computers and stereos.

About Tom Irvine

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