How to deal with sleep deprivation
-Nov 19, Jenny Paul, Health -
In the run up to the festive season a lot of people suddenly notice that they have trouble sleeping. If you’re waking up in the night and feeling exhausted in the morning we take a look at ways to cope.
If you’re suddenly not sleeping very well, it’s possibly down to mild seasonal stress, with the knowledge that the festive season is looming large – often bringing huge financial burdens and a lot of family strain. It could also be down to winter kicking in, before we’ve fully had a chance to get used to it not being summer.
Knowing the cause of what’s waking you up in the night – whether it’s noisy neighbours, worries about your career, or your kids never allowing you to get a full eight hours – doesn’t necessarily make things any better. If anything it can make you feel trapped and as if you’ll never sleep well again.
But, there are certain things that you can do that could help to make you feel better.
Watch what you eat and drink
Whilst it might be tempting, turning to food for a sugar rush or a hit of carbs is going to make you feel worse long-term. Instead of existing on coffee and sweet treats, try to keep your blood sugar stable. The last thing you want is it spiking and crashing as you’ll only feel more exhausted once the sugar high has worn off. Instead, whip up a pot of home-made vegetable soup to have on hand so you get a steady stream of nutrients throughout the day and in the evening too. Cut out caffeine in the afternoons and switch for a calming herbal tea. Cut out alcohol completely as it can cause anxiety and depression. Take a look at your diet and try to get rid of anything that’s not packed with nutrients. Eat for health and make sure you get a steady supply of green and orange vegetables, and avoid foods which might trigger inflammation and cause sleep problems.
Get as much sunlight as you can
Try to get outside as much as you can during daylight hours, and keep your curtains open – letting in lots of natural light. This will signal to your brain that it’s daytime so that once night rolls around and it becomes dark, your brain will ready itself for sleep mode.
Keep napping to a minimum
When you’re exhausted it’s extremely tempting to go back to bed and nap in a bid to catch up with some of that lost rest. Sometimes it’s a necessity, for example if you have a newborn baby, who wakes frequently through the night, sleeping when they do is a brilliant way of keeping sane. But, if you come home from work and feel so exhausted that you go straight to bed for an hour-long nap at 6pm you could end up confusing your body, which in turn, will cause wakefulness in the early hours of the morning. Try hard to stay up if you can: Take a long, relaxing bath with Epsom salts and unwind with a good book. If you can go to bed at 11pm, you might just sleep through until 7am – which is a healthy eight hours.
Exercise at lunchtime
If you’re tired in your lunch hour, go out for a brisk walk in the fresh air instead. It will help because your body will produce ‘feel good’ endorphins and you’ll get a burst of energy to power you through the afternoon. Also, if your body is busy, it can serve as an active meditation – you may work through whatever is on your mind and causing you to wake up in the night.
Turn off the TV
Unwinding with a TV box set is the perfect thing to do when you’re tired. But, try to turn the TV off – along with your telephone and laptop – after 9pm. Watching an adrenal-fuelled television show before bed can often end up stimulating your mind, which results in a lack of sleep.
What if it’s something that you can’t fix, like a person that’s keeping you awake?
If you’re being kept awake by noisy neighbours, your own children, or a snoring partner, your best weapon is talking to them in a calm and polite manner. It really is hellish drifting off to sleep, only to be jolted awake because your husband has started to snore, or the neighbours are throwing a party night after night. You could maybe buy them slippers if they’re walking around on a hard floor and causing noise, or a rug which will help muffle some of the sound.
Try whatever you can to find a solution. You can also try using an app to get to sleep – like a white noise or meditation app. If you have a newborn, remember that they will sleep through the night eventually and it’s a temporary situation. The more relaxed you are, the more likely your baby is to take its cues from you and go to sleep.
Don’t stress out over not sleeping
Getting to sleep and staying asleep can sometimes be psychological. If you say to yourself before you go to bed that you’re happy to just lie there and rest rather than putting all this pressure on yourself to sleep, you’re more likely to drift off without any problems at all. If you start worrying about something, use the 5-5 rule: This is that if you won’t be worried about something in five years time you only allow yourself five minutes to think about it in the here and now – after that, call time on the problem and stop thinking about it.
If this was helpful, we have taken a look at how you can eat your way to happiness. And, Victoria Beckham’s favourite instant happiness trick has its roots in science – it could also help to give you some extra energy when you’re tired. If all else fails, we have got some make-up tricks that you can use to look like you have had eight hours sleep – even when you didn’t.