Understanding Your Sleep Problem
Most people have problems sleeping from time to time. Sleep problems can often start after an upsetting life event, or they can also be a result of your lifestyle. Many psychological problems contribute to upset sleep. These include anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, shame and stress. Physical problems such as pain and breathlessness can also stop you sleeping. A key to start getting back into a regular sleep cycle is often to set up regular sleep routines, and to try tackle the underlying causes of poor sleep.
How to Improve Your Sleep
Sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health. Fall short and over time it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Many people regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the required amount of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like an impossible goal when you’re wide awake in the middle of the night. But you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realise.
- Bed is for sleep and sex only. Try to avoid doing other things like watching TV.
- If you can’t sleep, get up and do something until you are tired.
- If you’re lying awake worrying, go downstairs and write your worries down to deal with at a later time.
- Adopt a regular bedtime and getting up time.
- Address physical and practical issues e.g. light / noise / temperature.
- Reduce general life pressures.
- Set aside a wind-down time each evening.
- DON’T drink and smoke ‘to calm your nerves’ before bed.
- DON’T do physical or mental exercise before bed.
- DON’T read or watch TV in bed.
- DON’T sleep in or nap during the day.
- DON’T drink too much tea / coffee / cola drinks – they just wake you up.
- Leave your phone switched off or even better downstairs.
- If you have to have your phone by your bed, go into airplane mode, or mute it so you don’t wake up with each notification.
Resources to Help Improve Your Sleep
Tension Control Training
Using our TCT handout and the two linked audio relaxation files, you will be taught a method of achieving a state of calm relaxation simply by concentrating your mind on relaxing thoughts rather than unhelpful, fearful thoughts.
The key to the approach is to help you to relax the tension in your body and move your thoughts away from the worries that can dominate your thinking. It involves noticing and being mindful about your body and breathing and also helps you let thoughts just be so you can move your mind to a calm controlled relaxed state.
It normally takes a few sessions to begin to learn the skills of experiencing this deep calm. To do this you will need to practice regularly – preferably twice a day. Try to view the session as a “prescription” to be taken in the morning and evening. Each session should not be too long – just 10 minutes – you will need to find a room where you can be on your own and not be interrupted by others. If this is difficult it is important to ask yourself whether you are just too busy to relax and if so what changes you need to make in your life to change this.
You may find as you begin to practice the Tension Control Training that your thoughts begin to wander as you listen to the session. It is quite normal to find it is hard to do this at first, but with practice and further sessions we hope you find it easier and easier to reach a state of calmness and improve your sleep. Over six to eight weeks many people find that they are slowly able to stop using the sound files as they find that they can move to a state of calm in everyday life. As with a good holiday, the benefits of this last far longer than just the time taken during the session of relaxation and we hope you notice additional benefits throughout the day.
While getting seven to eight hours of sound sleep each night is easier said than done, trying these adjustments you can begin to improve your odds of a good night’s sleep. And what you do in the hours before you go to bed matters the most.
Books and web resources to Help You Improve Your Sleep
We have a range of resources to help you deal with your worries and improve your sleep:
You may have heard of mindfulness. This is an ancient meditational approach that encourages us to focus our mind on the moment rather than on worries and concerns. Our mindfulness course Slow down and be book and soon to be available online course at www.llttf.com.
Web courses: Access our free course at www.llttf.com and try our ‘Improving sleep’ module which is available as one of our optional modules in our paid course.
Finally, you can download our handout on Sleep issues here.
The Living Life to the Full Team.