Have you ever experienced the anxiety of not being able to fall asleep and knowing you will pay the consequences the next day? You may find that your sleep is disturbed, possibly by nightmares; you wake up too early or are simply struggling to fall asleep.
Recent research in the European Heart Journal suggests that the inability to sleep well can lead to a heightened risk of heart disease or stroke. The Healthy Hideout looks at a few of the 89 sleep disorders and gives ideas to help you start enjoying a good night’s sleep once more.
Tossing & Turning
Possible Cause: Temperature
The temperature of both your bed and bedroom can have a big effect on whether you toss and turn in the night. Dr Neil Stanley, an expert with sleep says: “Our bodies follow a strong natural rhythm, rising in temperature through the day and falling overnight.”
“At around 3am we have the biggest dip and anything that makes it difficult for us to lose heat at that point will cause disturbed sleep.”
If you set your central heating to a warm feeling 21C then during the night you may find that you toss and turn in an effort to get cooler. Women who are going through their menstrual cycle may also find that hot flushes cause a similar waking to try to cool the body.
Why not try:
Turn off your central heating earlier in the evening or set your thermostat to be cooler during the night. Dr Stanley says that the ideal temperature under the covers should be around 29C with the bedroom being about 16C allowing heat to be easily lost through the head. Also, make sure you do not overheat your bed with an electric blanket or hot water bottle.
Grogginess when getting up
Possible Cause: Oversleeping or a change in your sleeping routing
Your body loves routine so it can prepare itself for the day ahead. Dr Neil Stanley says “The body craves regularity and wants to get up at the same time every day. It prepares for waking an hour beforehand, But it can only prepare if it knows when you’re going to get up.”
During the night your body will suppress the creation of urine so as to minimize the need to get up during the night. Similarly, gastric juices start to flow when you wake in the morning to prepare you for breakfast.
Why not try:
Try to keep a regular sleeping pattern by not sleeping in late at weekends. It is best if you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This way your body can get into a routine and kick start the production of certain hormones at the optimum time. Oversleeping can also throw your body’s natural sleeping rhythm.
You struggle going to sleep early
Possible Cause: Natural body clock
Your body will fall into a natural sleeping routine that becomes habitual. Your body will also be affected by day light. When the body senses sunlight then melatonin is shut down in the body so that you feel more awake. Conversely, the lack of daylight can lead to the creation of melatonin to help you feel sleepy.
Why not try:
Lower the light in the room a little earlier when you are getting ready to go to sleep. This lowered level of light and the release of melatonin can help you get to sleep more easily. Slowly relearn to wake up earlier and if possible let the daylight wake you up.
Waking too early
Possible Cause: Insomnia due to stress or environmental factors
It is unlikely that you will wake up in the first 3 hours of your sleep when you enter a deeper sleep state. However in your latter sleep stages you may be woken more easily and environmental factors or noises may cause you to wake. It is likely that unusual noises are more prone to cause you to wake early.
Another possible cause is insomnia that can be induced by stress. In fact a symptom of stress can be early waking.
Why not try:
Dr. Stanley points out : ‘the big caveat is that if you feel fine during the day then whatever’s happening isn’t a problem.’ Environmental factors or noises may be reduced with a sleeping mask or ear plugs. If you believe your early rising is stress related then ask your local GP for further advice.
For more information and other sleep disorders please see the Mail Online.