4 Reasons You Are Struggling To Sleep and How You Can Resolve It

For many of us, making a few small changes to our daily routines and sleeping environment can improve our quality of sleep. But for others who suffer from sleeping disorders, medical intervention might be needed. Professor Michael Polkey at OneWelbeck Lung Health explains some of the main reasons you might be getting a bad night’s sleep and when you should see a sleep specialist so you can get a good night’s rest.

1. You’re not exercising at the optimum time

‘Many of today’s office workers are sedentary for most of the day and aren’t doing enough physical activity, which can affect our ability to get to sleep,’ Michael says. ‘If you’re feeling sluggish throughout the day, I’d recommend working out in the early evening,’ Michael recommends. So, a post-work session is the prime time for the best sleep, but why? ‘Exercising at this time allows our body enough time to wind down, but it’s close enough to bedtime to tire us out and send us into a deeper sleep quicker,’ Michael explains.

Michael’s top tip: If you work from home, or sit in an office all day, try cardio workouts. They require high levels of intense energy, so will increase your mobility and tire you quicker. Too much daytime sleep could indicate that you’re suffering from a sleep disorder.

2. There are distractions in your bedroom

Our bedrooms should be for rest and relaxation, but they often feature TVs and other entertainment devices which are not conducive to sleep. ‘These kinds of distractions and devices can disassociate your bedroom from being a place of rest and instead make it a room of many functions,’ Michael explains.

‘Bright lights, phones or TV screens could be the beginning of progressive problems, with the bright light ‘tricking our bodies’ into thinking it’s not time to go to sleep. This level of distraction also prevents your mind and body from preparing to rest, which can lead to stress leading up to bedtime and resentful feelings towards the bedroom if we know we’ll struggle to get the rest we need.’

Michael’s top tip: remove electronic devices from the bedroom, so you can relax your mind before bedtime, and try using softer lights instead of bright bulbs.

3. You’re eating or drinking the wrong things

‘Avoid drinking carbonated or caffeinated drinks post-midday and refrain from eating chocolate or sugary snacks late at night,’ Michael advises. ‘The artificial sugar energises our body, promoting wakefulness and preventing sleep,’ he adds.

He explains the relationship between sleep deprivation and poor dietary choices: ‘We tend to crave sugary or fatty foods when we’re sleep deprived, which can result in poor sleep, and the cycle repeats.’

Michael’s top tip: If you get late-night cravings, drink a glass of water – often hunger can be misconstrued for being thirsty. Aim to eat your last meal of the day four to five hours before your bedtime.

Reducing bright lights and refraining from eating sugary snacks or drinks before bed will help induce a night of better sleep.

4. You’re not relaxing your mind and body before bed

‘We make time for so many other parts of our lives, but often don’t prioritise sleep and relaxation which are incredibly important if we want to be productive and healthy,’ Michael says.

‘Whether it’s taking a bath, meditating or reading a book, taking the time to relax your mind and body before bed can make a big difference to your quality of sleep. Even taking five minutes to wind down can help.’

Michael’s top tip: Take 30 minutes each evening to integrate a relaxation ritual before sleep to help you wind down.

Treat the underlying cause of your sleep disorder

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common problem, with symptoms including overwhelming tiredness during the day, and during the night: loud snoring or snorting, shortness of breath resulting in gasping during sleep, waking up frequently, sudden jerk body movements or tossing and turning.

There are some people who may be more prone to OSA, as Michael explains: ‘sleep disorders are common amongst men, post-menopausal women, those with a body mass index of 28 kg/m2or a collar size of 17” or more. It is associated with several common medical conditions including high blood pressure,’ he says.

OneWelbeck offers an at-home sleep study to analyse your natural sleep behaviour and decipher the cause of the problem. ‘There are a range of treatments available,’ Michael explains, ‘which you will be advised upon following a consultation with one of the centre’s four accredited specialists.

‘Some individuals can recover from a diagnosed sleep disorder through weight loss, which will re-open their airways when they sleep,’ he continues. ‘But for others, sleep disorders can be treated successfully with a mask device, which covers the nose and mouth. The CPAP machine attached to the mask blows air through the mouth and or/nostrils nostrils during the night, which keeps the airways open and the snoring at a minimum.

‘There is also surgery available to help reduce snoring, but there is a possibility of worsening the sleep apnoea, making it harder to treat. You can discuss this in your consultation at the centre,’ says Michael.

Get in touch

If you’re concerned about your sleep, book a consultation or sleep study with OneWelbeck. Our expert team can answer any questions you may have and help give you peace of mind when trying to safeguard and improve your sleep.