Why are you having trouble sleeping?

About ten percent of the population are constantly getting too little sleep. Half of these cases are due to problems falling asleep and the other half are due to disturbances by, for example, children or noise. Sleep deprivation is more common with women than men.
Most people need between six and nine hours of sleep per day and on average adults sleep eight and a half hour if they are allowed to sleep as much as their body needs. An adult sleeps on average seven and a half hour per day.

There seems to be a connection between long term sleep problems and cardiovascular diseases and depression. Sleep deprivation also lowers the immune defense and can cause heightened sensitivity to pain, which can worsen the symptoms of pain diseases like fibromyalgia and arthritis. Sleep deprivation can also be a factor behind elevated blood pressure. Sleep in itself has a reducing effect on blood pressure and with too little sleep the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure is reduced.

Most problems sleeping are just bad sleep habits. Let’s look at what these sleep habits are.

• Short naps during the day is an effective cure if you are tired. Fifteen minutes of sleep in the middle of the day is more rejuvenating than the last two or three hours of sleep during the night. The downside is that sleeping during the day might negatively effect the night sleep.
• Change your evening habits. Demands from friends and family can be just as stressful as a work. Thus you should make sure that you don’t have any obligations during the evenings and try to go to sleep earlier.
• Alcohol consumption and smoking deteriorate the quality of your sleep. Thus it might help to quit smoking and/or cut back on alcohol consumption.
• Stress increases the metabolism which in turn prevents the sleep from being as deep as it should, and it also makes it easier to wake up. This means that it will take longer for you to fall asleep and you will more often wake up during the night or early in the morning.
• Create a good sleeping environment. Most people sleep best in a dark, cool (14-18°C/57-64°F) and quiet room with a good bed.
• Avoid alcohol and stimulating beverages such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and cola for at least six hours before you go to bed.
• Don’t go to bed hungry.
• Sleep at regular hours.
• Try to have some physical activity every day.
• Wind down before you go to bed. This can be done by for example reading, watching TV, playing with children or anything else that makes you feel relaxed without feeling like an obligation.
• Take a warm bath an hour before going to bed.
• If you can’t sleep it might help to get up again and do something else until you feel sleepy.
• Learn relaxation techniques that you can use when going to bed.
• Learn “thought stop” to stop ruminative thoughts.
• Place your alarm clock so that you can’t see what time it is from your bed. It can be stressing to see how long you have been lying awake.

If you are doing all of the above and are still having trouble sleeping, you may have a sleep disorder and should visit with your family doctor.

But studies have shown that most people have trouble sleeping because of poor sleep habits.