We all have nights when for some inexplicable reason falling asleep seems impossible. (And the more you think about it, the worse it gets!) Dr Carmel Harrington of Sleep For Health (sleepforhealth.com.au) explains the common cause of sleep struggles and reveals some practical strategies to send you off to the land of nod.
Why am I awake?
A tough or busy day is often to blame for a restless night. 'On these days, our bodies produce more of the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol,' Dr Harrington explains. 'Unless you actively try to decrease these hormone levels, the body and mind will remain alert, making sleep difficult.'
How should I unwind?
Preparing your body for sleep should begin hours before you hit the sack. 'You need to have dealt with the issues of the day during the day - not when you get into bed,' Dr Harrington advises. After a stressful day, Dr Harrington recommends exercise, meditation, yoga or even just watching a laugh-out-loud show or movie.
What should I do before bed?
A pre-sleep ritual an hour before bed helps prepare the body and mind for rest. 'Decreasing your level of alertness helps you get the best sleep possible.' Dr Harrington suggests turning off all technology, dimming the lights, taking a warm shower and possibly doing a relaxing breathing exercise.
I'm still awake - what now?
'Don't stay in bed,' Dr Harrington advises. 'Keep the lights dim and get up and do something boring or relaxing instead. Only go back to bed once you start yawning or your eyes start drooping.'
Adults aged between 18-64 should aim for seven to nine hours sleep per night.