Sleep Problem?


Sleep is essential to physical and emotional health and plays a role in helping the body recover from illness and injury. Sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, even if occurring only occasionally, can make daily life feel more stressful and less productive.
Effects of poor sleep
·        Falling asleep during the day
·        Constantly feeling tired
·        Poor concentration
·        Learning and memory problems
·        Difficulty in reasoning and decision-making
·        Irritability and frustration
·        Problems in self-expression
·        Increased risk of accidents and injury

Recognition and treatment of sleep problems are important because of the threat to emotional and physical health.
How much sleep is needed?
Most healthy adults need an average of 6.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night. However, it is usual for some people to have less sleep without being badly affected. As people get older, they may notice that they sleep less; this is a common and natural part of aging.

Research suggests that it is not the quantity of sleep that matters, but rather how well you feel physically and mentally as a result of your sleep pattern.

Causes of sleep problems

Two of the most common causes of sleep disturbances are anxiety and depression. Anxiety can so occupy the mind that sleep is delayed, disturbed, or shortened. With depression, individuals often wake early and cannot return to sleep; or individuals may find themselves sleeping much of the day. With either of these causes, the complaint may be a sleep problem, but the underlying condition needs to be treated and individuals are encouraged to discuss the problem with their GP.
Some other common causes of sleep disturbance are listed below:
Worry; stress; anger; being overweight; heart disease; nose, throat or lung conditions; sleep apnea; narcolepsy; pain; medications; indigestion; headaches; backache; arthritis; diabetes; asthma; ulcers; being too hot or too cold; caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs; heavy meals before sleep; mental or physical activity before sleep; daytime naps; irregular sleep schedule; working at night; little daytime exercise; noise; pollution; too much light; lack of privacy; overcrowding.
Sleep problems are treatable
It can be distressing when others do not understand your sleep problem and how it can affects your life. However, the good news is that you can overcome your sleep problems.
If you have a sleep problem it is a good idea to consult your GP. They may, for example, test for an under/over-active thyroid, as this can cause both insomnia and too much sleep. Medication may also be prescribed by the GP for temporary sleep problems or short-term use in breaking the sleeping pattern.
Okay! What can I do?
Sleep onlywhen sleepy. Avoid lying in bed worrying about not sleeping; if you can't fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up, leave the bedroom and do something boring until you feel sleepy. Don’t expose yourself to bright light or too much noise while you are up, as this cues the brain that it is time to wake up. Sit quietly, read something boring, listen to quiet music, sew, take a warm bath, or find some other way to relax before going back to bed.

Don't take daytime naps. This will ensure you are tired at bedtime.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. The best way to sleep better is to keep a regular schedule for sleeping, even on weekends. Go to bed at about the same time every night, but only when you are tired, and establish a regular time to have breakfast. This will help reinforce the biological rhythms that establish your periods of alertness during the day.

Use light to aid your biological rhythms. When you get up in the morning, switch on bright lights or open the curtains to let in daylight. If you live in an area with limited sunlight, you may find you sleep more and feel sluggish during winter. Exposure to the right amount of sun may increase your activity level.

Take a hot bath before bedtime. The drop in temperature following a hot bath may leave you feeling sleepy.

Have a light snack before bed. If your stomach is empty, or if you have had a heavy meal, then this can interfere with sleep. A light snack containing tryptophan (such as milk or turkey) can act as a sleep inducer.

Only use your bedroom for sleeping. Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, work, use a computer or read, so that when you go to bed your body knows it is time to relax.

Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable. A hot room can be uncomfortable. A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended. If light bothers you, get a shade or curtain/blinds that will keep your room dark. If background noise bothers you, wear earplugs or get a machine that generates ‘white noise’ (such as a fan). Keep the windows shut, close the door to your bedroom, and request that others are quiet while you are sleeping.

Remember your rights. If you are living in a noisy house or hall, it is still your right to have a good night’s sleep. Even at the start of term, ask housemates to be quieter at night, and consider letting them know that you are going to sleep so they can act accordingly.

Develop ‘sleep cues’. It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine-free tea, and use relaxation exercises. Relaxation, meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi can help train and focus your mind on ways to relax and breathe correctly.

Do not have caffeine, nicotine or alcohol at least 4 hours before bed.

These stimulants interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate, and some drugs contain caffeine. Alcohol may seem to help you sleep in the beginning, as it slows brain activity, but you will end up having disturbed sleep.

Refrain from exercise for a few hours before bedtime. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep. In fact, regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well, but the timing of the exercise is important.

Don't expect too much from yourself. Make ‘To Do’ lists at the start of each day. This will help better plan each day, reduce worry, and you will be able to see that what you have completed was all you could do.
People who may be able to help
Student Support Services:  includes
The Mental Health Support Team
Tel: (0115) 848 2085
The Counselling Service
Tel: (0115) 848 6487
GP Services:
City Health Centre
Tel: (0115) 848 6481
Sunrise Medical Practice (Clifton Campus)
Tel: (0115) 848 3100
Southwell Medical Centre (near Brackenhurst campus)
The Ropewalk, Southwell, Nottinghamshire NG25 0EW
Tel: (01623) 813 561

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