“Why can’t I sleep??”
That’s a question one of our Therapists, Jonny, got asked the other day by a patient suffering from back pain.
At first, the obvious reason why would be the back pain, right? Well, even though back pain does get in the way of having a good nights sleep – this particular patient went on to tell Jonny how he’s always had trouble sleeping for as long as he could remember!
And even though his back pain is easing off, and finding a comfortable position to sleep in isn’t the issue anymore – he’s still having trouble falling asleep without lying awake for hours.
Do you have trouble sleeping too? (And you know it isn’t an injury that’s keeping you up?)
When it comes to getting a good nights sleep, a few musts come to mind – a quiet room, a comfortable bed, no bright lights… But did you know what we do during the day can have just as much effect on sleep as anything we do at night?
If you’re having trouble drifting off, just like our patient this week, maybe you have some of these common daytime habits that are keeping you awake?
1. You hit the snooze button
We’re all familiar with doing this, but what a lot of us don’t realise is that getting a good night’s sleep can depend on the very first thing you do in the morning.
Why? Because when you hit the snooze button, you’re starting a new sleep cycle you won’t be able to complete in 10 minutes when your alarm goes off again. Not finishing a sleep cycle your body has started can make you feel groggier during the day, which can also throw off your body’s internal clock and disrupt your sleep the following night too.
How to break the habit: Once your alarm goes off get into the habit of NOT hitting snooze and closing your eyes for “10 more minutes”. Instead, lay there with your eyes open for 10 if you have to, stretch and have a big glass of water next to your bed ready to be had.
2. Exercise late at night
I get it, late at night might be your only opportunity to fit in some exercise and, by all means, you should try to sneak movement in whenever possible. However, it’s important to know that getting your energy and heart rate fired late at night may prevent you from falling asleep easily.
How to break the habit: Try to find ways of exercising first thing on a morning (wake up earlier if you have to) or three to four hours prior to going to sleep.
3. Spending too much time on the sofa
This can be easily done. I know, sometimes it’s tempting when it’s cold and grey outside to spend a day relaxing on the sofa – however sitting all day or four hours at a time, (over time), does the opposite of moving the body.
Studies have been done time and time again which show that exercise boosts your mood, gets your blood flowing and uses energy – important for sleep. It’s been proven that sitting for fewer than 6 hours a day corresponds with good sleep compared to sitting for 10 or more hours.
How to break the habit: Over the next few days be aware of your sitting habits. How long do you sit for? How much of the day do you spend seated? Get up and move about every couple of hours, stretch and walk around – anything to break up the sitting habit.
4. Sipping on caffeine throughout the day
A lot of us rely on tea and coffee. It’s a well-known fact. And although caffeine can help us feel alert – it can also lead to restless nights, which then become sleepy tired days, which have you reaching for even MORE coffee.
Most people don’t know – but caffeine actually affects our system for 6 to 8 hours. Which means every caffeinated beverage you consume after 3 or 4 pm could cost you a good nights sleep and have you relying upon it the following morning, causing you to drink it all day long, again.
How to break the habit: If you’re a coffee or tea drinker – stop drinking it at 3 pm. And if you drink more than 2 cups a day, try sticking to one or two instead, it might be tough at first, but your sleep will thank you for it.
5. Drinking too late in the evening
I’m not talking water, I’m talking alcohol.
A lot of us like to have a nice glass of wine or bottle of beer after a long day at work, there’s nothing wrong with having the occasional nightcap! However while you may fall asleep quickly, alcohol actually has a sedative effect, which affects the quality of your slumber by disrupting your sleep cycle.
Therefore, experts recommend stopping drinking alcohol 2-3 hours before going to bed.
How to break the habit: Stop drinking alcohol 2-3 hours before going to bed and drink a large glass of water instead.
Do you do any of these things? Make a change to one of those today’s and hopefully after a week, you’ll get a better nights sleep and feel well rested.
P.S Are you suffering from back pain right now? If you’d like tips to help ease back pain, go here where you can download my free tips guide instantly: www.paulgoughphysio.com/back-pain
You might know Paul as an expert Columnist who writes weekly health articles for TWO of the North East's biggest daily Newspapers, The Northern Echo And The Hartlepool Mail, he is a regular Speaker at Industry Seminars around the globe and a Radio Personality, often heard on the BBC. Paul has been an expert guest on dozens of Radio shows and regularly interviewed in newspapers, magazines and trade journals all over the world, including the Guardian.
Paul’s background included working extensively in the Premier League with a Top Professional Football Team, and since quitting his job in Professional Football in 2007, his Physio Practice has become the fastest growing in the UK and biggest in the North East. So successful, that companies like BUPA, ASDA, The Vela Group And Coast & Country, repeatedly retain his Physio company's services to keep healthy their own staff and workforce. Paul Gough Physio Rooms is now a large multi-physio, multi clinic speciality practice in Darlington, Durham, Guisborough and Hartlepool.
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