Not being able to sleep is no joke yet thousands of people wake up every morning having had very little sleep. For some, it is caused by external issues such as a young baby. For others, it is their own inability to sleep that is causing the problem. Why not combine a shopping trip with getting a good night’s sleep? Stock up on the items that can help you to drop off to sleep easily and stay asleep for a full eight hours.
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The importance of getting a good night’s sleep
The inability to sleep is called insomnia and is caused by many factors. Most adults need around eight hours of sleep a night for them to wake and feel alert. Normal sleep is made up of two stages. There is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep.
The REM phase makes up around one fifth of your sleep. During this phase, your brain is very active and your eyes move quickly from side to side. This is when you may experience dreams as your brain is very active even though your muscles are very relaxed. During the non-REM phase, some hormones are released into your bloodstream and your body repairs itself. At times both your body temperature and your blood pressure fall.
It is perfectly normal for you to wake up for one or two minutes every two hours or so. Most people simply will not be aware of this but if you have a sleep problem they can last for much longer.
A lack of sleep is not a laughing matter. The odd broken night is fairly easy to cope with but night after night of hardly any sleep at all will soon take its toll on your mental and physical health.
The most obvious effect is that you will feel tired throughout the day and you may even fall asleep at inappropriate times and in inappropriate places. Your work may be affected because you will find it hard to concentrate and make decisions. Eventually, you may begin to feel depressed and this is compounded by you worrying that you cannot sleep. It ends up being a vicious circle.
If you have a job where you need to operate heavy machinery, drive or are responsible for the safety of others, this issue can actually present a risk to the safety and lives of others as well as yourself.
There are physical effects associated with a lack of sleep. People who do not sleep well are more likely to have high blood pressure (which is a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes) diabetes and to be obese.
Reasons for sleep difficulties
The reasons for you not getting a good night’s rest can be external (something to do with your environment) or internal (something to do with you).
External reasons are the easiest to do something about and a shopping trip can help a great deal with sorting these issues out. Many people cannot get to sleep because the bedroom is too noisy, too hot or too cold or it may be because your bed is too small or uncomfortable. The noise may be caused by traffic or people in the street or it may be your partner who snores or who has a different sleep pattern to you. They may wake you up as they get into and out of bed. You may also be woken up by bright light which could be natural light from a window or artificial light because your partner has put the light on!
Your behavior can also make the problem worse. You may not be adopting a regular sleep routine and shift work is a major cause of this. Some people do not sleep well because they do not get enough exercise. Your eating pattern is also important. Eating too late will prevent you from dropping off to sleep. On the other hand, eating too early will mean that you go to bed hungry and this causes you to wake up early. Stimulants such as cigarettes, alcohol, and drinks containing caffeine will definitely get in the way of you dropping off.
There are more serious issues that can get in the way of sleeping. If you are ill or are in pain you will have sleep disturbances. People who suffer from conditions such as angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an overactive thyroid or fibromyalgia are more likely to have disturbed nights.
Worrying is a major reason for having difficulties sleeping. If you are feeling emotional and stressed about family issues or problems at work you may be thinking over these problems when you are in bed.
Products that will help you sleep
There are lots of things that you can buy that will help you to get a good night’s sleep. Organize a shopping trip to help get your sleep problems sorted out.
Ear plugs will help you to block out extraneous noise such as your partner snoring or voices from out in the street. You can choose from moldable or foam products and choose the product that you find most comfortable. Once you have established a good sleeping pattern you may not need to use them any longer.
The same is true for eye masks. They will block out the light and trick your brain into thinking that it is still dark and that you should be asleep. They are comfortable to wear and washable.
It is essential that your bed is comfortable so take a good look at your mattress and your bed clothes. Does your mattress support you properly as you sleep? If it's too firm, your hips and shoulders are under pressure and you will find it hard to adopt a comfortable position. If it's too soft, you could cause a back ache. You should replace your mattress every 10 years or so head to the mattress store on your shopping trip.
You need to be warm and cozy when you are sleeping so you need to get the best quality bedding. The terminology surrounding bedding can be confusing. You may find that down comforters are often referred to as “duvet inserts” by interior decorators. This down or feather filled comforter will regulate your temperature whilst you are sleeping. You also need to buy a cover for your duvet which will protect it from stains, fabric yellowing from body oils, and general wear and tear. Of course, you also get to choose a lovely design that matches the décor of your bedroom. Finish the look off with some finishing touches that don’t break the bank.
Melatonin milk, or products containing it, have a very natural sedative effect that may make you drop off naturally. It is certainly worth giving them a try.
Other things that will help you sleep
There are some other techniques that can help you to get plenty of rest. Exercise is very helpful but if you are not used to exercising you don’t need to overdo it. Try swimming as this supports all of your muscles as you are exercising. Walking briskly around the block a few times will help as well. It is important to stop exercising several hours before you go to bed because late exercise will just keep you awake.
Use the hour before you go to bed to relax properly. Listen to some relaxing music or try some aromatherapy. If you are bothered by niggling worries, try writing them down. If you are not able to solve the problem right away, it is a way of clearing it from your head until a time when you can sort it out.
It is up to find out what bedtime routine works for you. Some people like to read a book whilst others like to watch TV or listen to the radio. After a while, you should start to feel tired.
Routine is very important in sorting out sleep problems. Don’t try to ‘starve’ yourself of sleep because you think you will get so exhausted that you will drop off. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Caffeine is best avoided altogether by people who have sleep problems. It can stay in your system for ages after you have drunk it. It’s not just tea and coffee that can cause the problem. Many fizzy drinks and even mints contain a lot of caffeine. If you have to have a cup of coffee, don’t drink it after mid-afternoon. Later in the day, you can have milky or herbal drinks instead.
Alcohol may seem like a good solution but it rarely is. It may help you fall asleep initially but you will invariably wake up during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. It is also addictive and presents other health issues if you drink too much.
With a ‘sleep shopping trip’ to get the products that you need and a few changes to your lifestyle you can give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep. If the problem persists it would be worth talking to your doctor about it.