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How to Identify Sleep Problems and Get a Good Night's Sleep

Updated on June 15, 2010

One of the worst feelings in the world is when you're really tired but you can't sleep. Everything in you wants to go to sleep but you just can't manage to drift off. What's worse is that you are too tired to do anything else so you just toss and turn, sometimes throughout the entire night. If you have ongoing problems with sleep then you might want to consult a doctor or nutritionist to assist you in dealing with the long-term problem. However, if this is just something that happens to you once in awhile then you can probably take care of the problem on your own. Here is what you need to do to make sure that you get a good night's sleep.

Identify the reason that you're having trouble sleeping

There are many different reasons that you might be having trouble sleeping. Figuring out what the root cause of the sleeplessness is will help you determine what the best method is of dealing with the problem. Here are some common reasons that people have trouble sleeping:

  • Too much on the mind . Whether it's worries or just too much work going on, many people find that they can't sleep at night because they can't slow down enough to get good rest. The solution in this case is to find a way to clear your mind as you lay down to go to sleep. Different methods of doing this include meditation, prayer, and even counting sheep. Anything that is repetitive may help, such as putting on chanting music and trying to focus on it as you drift off. If none of these methods help, you may need to deal with whatever is on your mind before you can get a good night's sleep. One great trick is to sit at a desk in your home and write down every single thing that you need to deal with the next day. Once it's down on paper, you can relax and get your rest because you'll know that everything will be taken care of tomorrow. Similarly, journaling can assist you in getting thoughts out if you're having trouble sleeping because of emotions that are going on.
  • Dietary issues. There are many different things that might be wrong with your diet that can cause you to have trouble sleeping at night. The most common problem is that there is too much caffeine or sugar in your diet. Eliminating these from your diet or at least cutting back on them in the afternoon or evening can greatly reduce the problems that you're having with sleep. Drinking alcohol at night and eating big dinners late at night are other common habits that cause sleep to be disrupted. Reducing these food issues will reduce sleep problems. Alternatively, you may find that you can use the intake of different foods to induce sleep; the most well-known of these is chamomile tea. If you think that diet might be the reason that you're having trouble sleeping then you should consider speaking with a nutritionist about the issue or doing some in-depth research into good foods and bad foods in terms of diet that impacts your sleep.
  • Exercise issues. Like diet, exercise can impact what's going on in your body and make it hard to sleep. There's a fine line to be walked here. See, you need to get enough exercise throughout the course of the day to wear your body out so that it can be ready for sleep at night. At the same time, you don't want to exercise too much too close to your bedtime because that will amp up your body and make it difficult to fall asleep. Exercise right after work, before dinner, so that you wear yourself out but give your body time to wind down before bed.
  • Fear. Believe it or not, a major cause of not being able to sleep is fear. Single women sleeping alone in a house may fear that they are going to be attacked during the night. New parents may fear that going in to a deep sleep will prevent them from taking care of their child who may need them. Address the cause of the fear in order to find ways to sleep. Locks and alarms on the home, baby monitors in the room and relaxation exercises can do wonders to soothe fears and make sleep possible.
  • Change in routine. If you're having sleep problems that are relatively new then you might want to ask yourself if there has been a change in your sleep routine lately. If you've been getting up earlier than usual or working later than usual then you may have caused your internal sleep clock to change. Returning to the old schedule is one method of dealing with this sleep problem. Otherwise, give yourself time to adjust to the new schedule. Try to stick to a solid routine to increase the likelihood that you'll get a good night's sleep. And make sure to get as much sunlight during the day as possible so that your body can tell that nighttime is the time to sleep no matter what's going on with your schedule.
  • Discomfort. Many people don't realize how important it is to be comfortable in bed. Make sure that you own a good bed with good pillows. Failure to do so can result in lack of sleep no matter how well you deal with other sleep issues.

Taking Sleeping Pills

The most common solution for people in the modern world who are having trouble sleeping is to take a sleeping pill. These over-the-counter pills include everything from painkillers and cold medications designed for nighttime relief to pills specifically intended to induce sleep. These are technically considered to be safe. However, you don't want to rely on sleeping pills to get yourself to sleep on a regular basis. If you need to use them every once in awhile to get the sleep that you need then go ahead and do so (with caution). However, you should always look to resolve the underlying problems that are causing trouble sleeping so that you can avoid the use of sleep medications.


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