When it comes to sleep, it's easy to fall into a love/hate relationship.
For the most part, you love to sleep. It's the thing you just can't get enough of; a weekend lie-in becomes a part of life you actively look forward to. That's the time when you can relax, doze and do all the things a normal working week doesn't give you the chance to do.
During the week, it's easy for a pattern to begin to emerge. It goes something like this:
You're exhausted during the day. Not enough sleep, or not enough good quality rest anyway.
Then, you finally get to bed in the evening, lay back against the pillow... and then you can't doze off. Despite looking forward to this moment all day, your brain refuses to switch off. The tiredness and lethargy you felt throughout the day evaporates.
Of course, the next morning you're exhausted - and so the pattern begins to repeat itself. This is where you begin to hate sleep, despising what it's done to you and how it doesn't seem able to make up its own mind.
Given how important sleep is to our function - both mentally and physically - this can be an infuriating cycle to fall in to. It doesn't have to be as the result of a sleep disorder, either - it can just be one of those little brain problems that seem designed to make life difficult.
If you're having problems getting to sleep when there's no obvious reason for doing so, it's time to find a solution. Ask yourself a few questions to ascertain the problem - and then learn how to fix it.
"Am I Comfortable?"
It may seem obvious, but the first area you should examine is how comfortable you are when sleeping. First up, your pillows. It's tempting to pile them high and sink into them, but this can cause neck problems - one or two should suffice.
Secondly, your mattress. It should be supportive, allowing you to lie in any position. Especially if you're a side sleeper, then it's worth considering memory foam mattress support to prevent back or knee problems.
Third and finally, your bedding. Natural fibers such as cotton or linen help to regulate body temperature. They're a little more expensive but are more durable also.
"Do I Give Myself Time To 'Switch Off'?"
With a busy schedule, it's all too easy to go from frenzied activity to try and sleep. If you're rushing around preparing lunch for the next day and finishing off some work before going to bed, your mind is still going to be in "go" mode. Try and take at least half an hour prior to attempting to sleep just to relax. Go through a skincare regime, practice relaxation techniques or just read a book. Anything works, so long as it is used as a buffer zone for your active day life and your time attempting to sleep.
"Do I Use Electronic Devices?"
Scroll through your phone before bed? Watch a little TV? It could be the cause of your problems. The blue light that devices emit (it doesn't look blue, but that's where it is on the spectrum) mimics sunlight, signaling to our brains that it's daytime. If it's "daytime", your brain takes it as a signal to stay awake.
Try and limit your use of electronic devices after dark, to help your sleep pattern regulate. If that sounds a little too much like withdrawal, then you can use orange glasses or blue-light dimming apps to control the problem.
"Do I Clear My Mind?"
When you're trying to sleep, your mind needs to be as clear as possible - otherwise, you will stew on it. No one likes that feeling of waking up in the middle of the night and remembering something we have to do. As a result, our brain tends to keep ticking over as we're trying to fall asleep - searching for the things we might have forgotten. If it finds something in this search for a neglected area, it's all too tempting just to do it there and then. After all, you're already awake, right?
Before you go to bed for the night, write down a few essentials that you have to remember for the next day. Keep a journal in your bedside table so, if anything occurs to you as you're trying to drift off, you can quickly record it. Then you can action it in the morning, rather than getting up - thus restarting the whole relaxation process again.
What do you do to relax before bedtime? Comment down below!