Can’t sleep again? You’re not alone.
You have been thinking about this moment since you dragged yourself out of bed this morning. All day, you’ve been looking forward to crashing out on your pillow, stretching out your arms and yawning yourself into a quiet slumber.
But, now you’re just listening to the wind as it catches the bedroom window and staring at the mirror you don’t much like on the wall. Damn it! You can’t sleep. Again! Roll over, try and slow your breathing down and forget about work. It’s nearly 1AM for goodness’ sake, your other half is snoring and the kids will be laying across your feet playing an annoying cookery game on their tablet in 4 hours. Go to sleep!
Nope. Still Can’t Sleep.
You place a sock over your eyes to cut out the light, begin reciting old nursery rhymes in your head and turn the pillow over. “Gah! What is wrong with me?!”. Umm, well, possibly all sorts. You might be ill. You might be a bit TOO in love. You may be what some people call ‘too well rested’ – a description that couldn’t be applied to most people over the age of 22. Or… you might just have the wrong upstairs mix up, if you know what I mean?
Oh. You don’t know what I mean. I’m referring to the conduciveness of your bedroom environment to getting a proper night’s kip. Look around you – and if you can do just that, maybe it’s a bit bright in there. And there are lots of other things – as well as light levels – that may be affecting your ability to sleep. I’ve listed a few of them below, in no particular order:
1: Social Media
PROBLEM: You’ve just started nodding off, finally having put aside the stresses of the day. Then it happens; you are disturbed by the inevitable flashing green haze on the ceiling which is luring you into a last cheeky phone check. You ponder for an instant about whether the rollover in bed will be validation that you have fully forfeited independent thought at the altar of social media. Yet, the little popularity pixie laying on your pillow gives your ego a flutter and you can’t resist finding out what friend has invited you to a secret garden party in a few weeks.
Disappointingly, Facebook was just reminding you that it is two ‘friends” birthday tomorrow. Perhaps more disappointingly, one of those friends is someone you didn’t even like at high school, and the other is a chap you accepted a friend request from because he was going out with your sister 8 years ago, for two weeks.
SOLUTION: Just switch your notifications off, turn your phone over, or possibly even the unthinkable.
2: The other creature in your bed
PROBLEM: Although in truth, you know you snore very loudly, the sound of your bed companion’s strained breathing makes your ears bleed as you slowly grind your teeth to drown out the disturbance. You purposely try and do the ‘goodnight, I’m going to sleep I’ve got loads on tomorrow’ heads-up most nights, subtly trying to suggest to your partner that it would be nice if you could get to sleep first for once.
It doesn’t happen. It never does. You begin to doze off, but the at-first soft husky breathes of the other human being in the room quickly escalate into blood-churning rasps for air.
SOLUTION: OK, for some people snoring is a complex health issue that requires careful medical attention.For everyone else, however, just give them a nudge and make sure you remind them of their infuriating habit first thing in the morning.
3: Erm… that creature again
PROBLEM: Your other half just threw their clothes on the chair again, even though you specifically asked them not to do that again before going to bed.
SOLUTION: Get over it. Possibly consider reviewing the wardrobe space allocated to your other half, look online for a creative ‘relaxed’ Scandinavian approach to hanging used clothes up in plain view. You could also just accidentally tip the chair over every night to quietly and comically press your point but, eventually; just get over it.
4: The Mattress
PROBLEM: You have a rubbish mattress and it makes you angry to lay on it. You’ve seen three adverts this week showing at least 7 other people in the world who have really great mattresses, so good in fact that they didn’t need to return them within 50/100/200 days. A quick financial justification takes place in your head, and you have successfully explained that £3/night investment needed for 4 years is totally worth it, considering the ergonomic hell you’re currently laying in.
SOLUTION: You probably can’t resolve this one at this time of night, although you could certainly get the ball rolling with a bit of late-night online shopping. While you’re at it, you might want to upgrade you pillows too. We sell some by the way. #justsaying
PROBLEM: The quietness of the bedroom, low-light levels and other typically calming and restful features of a good sleeping environment can sometimes become a breeding ground for the darker parts of your conscious. From worrying about the fence blowing down in the wind, to someone breaking in, to re-planning an escape route in the event of a fire – a lot of people experience some kind of bed-time anxiety now and then. Did you switch the gas off when you finished cooking? No, I mean – did you switch it off properly? Can you smell gas faintly? Are you worried enough to get out of bed. If you get out of bed will the other half have started snoring by the time you come back upstairs??
SOLUTION: This is a toughy, and the scale and severity of such night-time anxieties can be well founded, a bit Alice in Wonderland, or just a sign of boredom. If you suspect that your bed-time frets are anything other than the harmless wanderings of an idle mind, you should probably speak to someone. If you think you may have left the gas on, put your sleep ambitions on the back-burner and head downstairs NOW!
PROBLEM: Similar to the propensity for a little worry to creep in to the bed time routine, curiosity oftens lurks into the mind of an unsuspecting nearly-asleeper. Wikipedia is tempting you with another source of potentially useless knowledge. When did Benedict Cumberbatch get his first TV role? The gossip column will have updated on BBC, or the daily reward will have been released on Candy Blush Saga 72, as it is now gone midnight. Next door were away from Friday to Tuesday last week, which is longer than your typical Centre of Parks break; what did they do Monday night then? Monday night you watched Sherlock again. That was awesome. I wonder when the next series is out. How much does an episode of Sherlock cost?…
SOLUTION: STOP! Seriously, stop! Curiosity is contagious and inherently vexing – you will go on and on and on, pursuing new nuggets of ‘knowledge’. This happened last night, and you lost two hours of sleep as a result. Rein it in!
7: Just too much sleep.
PROBLEM: It’s 3PM and you should have got yourself out of bed almost 7 hours ago. Or, it’s 11.30 and you’re simply not tired, but you ought to sleep because the alarm is set for 6.10AM. What do you do? What do you do?!
SOLUTION: Calm yourself – this is like the least worst ‘can’t sleep’ problem. If it’s 3PM, happy days – you’ve subconsciously made a decision that your day should take a different route to what was orginally planned (It may be worth ringing work though). If it’s 11.45PM, great – you must have had a pretty epic sleep last night to be feeling spritely at this time of night. Or you’re a bit tipsy – or both. Either way, lean into it – have a cup of tea or treat yourself to Problem 1 or 6 for a bit. Oh, or a book. You can still buy them and they are supposedly trusty bedfellows.
PROBLEM: You keep thinking about why you can’t sleep, and it’s no good – there seems to be no good reason. You’ve been staring into the shadows for what seems like hours. Even that friend who is ALWAYS online is offline now. You are well and truly in this on your own now.
SOLUTION: Ummm… if you haven’t had an epiphany yet, don’t worry, sleep researcher, Rebecca Robbins, gives us some advice:
Don’t fight the (insomnia) feeling. “If you’re tossing and turning after 15 minutes, get up and get out of bed. But keep the lights low, walk around, do some light stretching, or read a book.”