Sleep solutions

Good Health magazine
Friday, February 3, 2012

“I can’t stay asleep”

Waking throughout the night or in the early hours of the morning is a common complaint. If you suffer from frequent waking you may be experiencing sleep maintenance insomnia, which suggests you’re not getting enough deep sleep and are likely to be tired during the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, these mid-sleep awakenings often occur during periods of stress, and depression may also be a factor. What you can do:

Waking during the night is normal, reassures Bartlett. “On average we wake between three and four times a night.” Waking up isn’t the problem – it’s if you start thinking or become wired that causes an issue, she says. If you find your mind starts racing, get up. Sit on your bedroom floor in the dark and do nothing. This may help calm a racing mind, but the main aim is to become bored and uncomfortable so sleeping in your bed will feel like a much better option.

“I’m too wired to sleep”

Stress is just one side effect of feeling under the pump.

And if you’re constantly burning the candle at both ends, worrying about making ends meet, and multi-tasking household and work priorities, your sleep may suffer as a result. Long-term activation of the stress-response system – and overexposure to stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline – puts you at an increased risk of numerous health problems, including disrupted sleep, reports the Mayo Clinic.

What you can do:

Take time to wind down before you hit the sack at night as this will give your body time to transition from the full-throttle speed you’ve been going at all day to a slower pace, ready for sleep. You can do this by turning your TV, computer and smartphone off and having a relaxing bath by candlelight; listening to soft music; reading by a low light; or doing some gentle stretching and deep breathing.

“My legs tingle & twitch at night”

Restless leg syndrome affects up to 10 per cent of adults and sleep deprivation is one of the more common side effects, as you may need to get up and walk around to alleviate the cramps.

What you can do: The Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips for reducing symptoms: Baths & massages may relax your muscles; apply warm or cool packs, or alternate the two to lessen the sensations. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga to ease stress. Establish good sleep hygiene, as fatigue tends to worsen symptoms. Moderate, regular exercise may also relieve symptoms, but don’t overdo it at the gym, or work out too late in the day as this may intensify symptoms. Cut back on caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

“I struggle with drowsiness”

If you’re dragging yourself through the day it’s important to establish whether you’re getting enough sleep. “We know people aren’t valuing sleep and think it’s the one thing they can do without, especially when they’re busy,” says Bartlett. What you can do:

Listen to your body – go to bed when you’re tired and get up at the same time each day. If you’re short on sleep, allow yourself an extra one to two hours on a Saturday morning, not a Sunday, otherwise you can set up a bad sleep cycle. “If you sleep in on Sunday, you’re likely to try and go to bed early that night as it’s the beginning of the working week,” says Bartlett, ”and as a consequence you may not have enough sleep debt to fall asleep.”

Good Health magazine

For more health tips pick up the February issue of Good Health magazine at

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