Can’t Sleep? 9 Tips For Solving the Most Common Sleep Troubles

If you struggle with sleep disruption, you're not alone.

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You know those nights when you’re exhausted, your bed has never looked more comfy, and you crawl in for what you think will be a restful sleep? Yet, as you close your eyes, your mind opens, swarming with thoughts. Or, you just can’t get comfortable, as you toss and turn becoming more frustrated with the act of trying to sleep that you wake yourself up further. Maybe you are a little more stressed than usual and it’s a freak occurrence or maybe it’s a pattern, happening multiple nights a week; regardless, these are symptoms of sleep disruption associated with insomnia. 

According to The National Institutes of Health, around 30 percent of the American population struggle with sleep disruption. The most common complaints are difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, waking up too early, and waking up feeling unrefreshed. In the past four months, I’ve certainly struggled with sleep disruption as I can’t seem to separate the day’s buzz of a global pandemic from my nightly routine.

Recently, I got to thinking about sleep complaints from friends, family and colleagues during this time, as well as pre-COVID. I compiled a list and called upon Kanchan and Girish Nebhwani, founders of Drumi, who considered some of the common complaints associated with sleep disruption while designing their eco-conscious, hybrid mattress.

Here’s what they had to say: 

When you can’t fall asleep… 

If you have trouble falling asleep, it’s best to not stay in bed. Instead, go to another room and do an activity such as light stretches or yoga. Once you start to feel sleepy again, go back to bed.  Try to also practice sleep hygiene tips every night before going to bed. Some recommendations include unplugging from electronic devices at least one to two hours before bedtime, avoiding caffeine at least four to six hours before bedtime, setting up a cool and comfortable environment, and not eating a very heavy meal at night.  

When you wake up frequently during the night… 

Analyze what is causing you to wake up at night—Is the room temperature too hot or cold? Is your mattress uncomfortable? Are you sleeping on the wrong pillow? Is there too much light coming into the room and is the environment not comfortable? Once you understand what might be affecting your sleep, try fixing the issue and see if this resolves your problem.

Drinking too much caffeine close to bedtime can also disturb your sleep along with reading the news and working on your phone. Your brain is too alert and hasn’t had the ability to shut down before bedtime. Exercising at the wrong time of the day can also negatively impact your quality of sleep. Rigorous movement stimulates your endorphins, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. To avoid this, make sure you’re done with your exercise routine at least three hours before bedtime.

When you toss and turn or can’t get comfortable… 

Change your bed set up. Try using a different sheet or pillow to help you get more comfortable when you sleep. Changing your mattress can also help, as some mattresses start to sag over time depending on the materials and structure, which can lead to pain and discomfort over time. Make sure your room temperature is also set between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit and there is not too much light entering your bedroom. You can also try taking a light walk around your house, journaling or reading to help relax the body and mind.

When you can’t turn off your mind… 

Light reading, yoga, meditation or journaling can help relax the mind and decrease stress before bedtime. If you have had a particularly busy or overwhelming day, it’s sometimes good to note down things that you want to accomplish the next day so that it’s not sitting in your brain throughout the night. 

When you have a deadline, big meeting or event the next day…

Make sure your notes and deliverables are prepared the day before the meeting. For items that must be taken care of in the morning, keep a note of everything so that it’s on paper and can be tackled with a fresh mind. Try to avoid looking at your screen at least two hours before bedtime and instead do something relaxing that will distract your mind from the work you have been doing the entire day.

We should always try to prioritize sleep and not treat it as a luxury. If you sleep well, it will enhance your thinking and performance. 

When you are sleeping with a new partner…

Make sure to invest in a mattress that is not too soft or firm. Each person has a different sleeping preference and therefore a medium-firm mattress will offer the optimal support for both sleepers. Invest in a mattress that has layers which reduce motion transfer so you won’t get disturbed if your partner is moving a lot at night. Understand your partner’s sleeping habit and if  they do tend to snore at night, invest in some earplugs. If your partner is working at night or checking their electronic devices, wear an eye mask to block out any extra light that is coming in your way. 

When you are stressed or anxious…

Avoid checking your phone or electronic devices close to bedtime; the news and social media may just increase stress or anxiety and the light emitted from the devices can impact your sleep. Practice some light yoga or meditation before bedtime to calm the body and mind. Take a warm shower and put on some aromatherapy candles (lavender scented) to help create a peaceful atmosphere in your bedroom. 

Any other common complaints Drumi would like to share for sleep?

A lot of people have trouble sticking to a sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day sets your body’s internal clock, which makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up rested. While this might not feel like the right thing to do at the time, binge sleeping and pulling all-nighters will do more harm to you in the long run. Even on your days off, you should go to sleep and wake up at the same time to avoid oversleeping on Monday mornings and starting your week off on the wrong foot. 

Finally, light is a big contributing factor to how your circadian rhythm works, which is the internal clock that regulates your periods of sleep and wakefulness. To keep your rhythm on track, you should let the sun into your room in the morning and take breaks outside during waking hours to soak up some natural light.

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