While with insomnia it’s obvious why you’re sleep-deprived, other causes – such as the nightcap before bed that makes your sleep fitful – might not be as obvious.
Here are a few common symptoms of sleep deprivation.
If you answer YES to two or more of these questions you could be sleep-deprived.
- Feel irritable or sleepy during the day?
- Have difficulty staying awake when
- Sitting still, watching television or reading?
- Fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
- Have difficulty concentrating.
- Are often told you look tired?
- React slowly?
- Have trouble controlling your emotions?
- Feel as if you have to take a napmost days?
- Require caffeinated beverages to keep going?
Try these lifestyle changes for better sleep:
- Cut down on sugar. It isn’t only caffeine you have to avoid close to bedtime. Avoid sugary treats and refined carbohydrates after 7 pm as they also act as stimulants.
- Dim the lights an hour before you get into bed so your body gets prepared for sleep. Once in bed, ensure your room is as dark as possible so the sleep hormone, melatonin, kicks in and helps you rest well.
- Exercise more. People who work out havebeen found to sleep better than those who don’t.
- Have a bath two hours before bedtime. Experts have found body temperature affects how fast you fall asleep – a good night’s rest usually follows a slight drop in body temperature.
- Add more tryptophan-containing foods to your diet. This amino acid is known to increase levels of sleep-inducing melatonin. These include fish, beef, cottage cheese, eggs, soya protein, pumpkin and sesame seeds, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils and figs.
- Buy a new bed. After six to 10 years of use your mattress could have deteriorated by as much as 70 per cent, according to the UK Sleep Council.
- Switch off the TV and your cell phone as they stimulate the brain. They might help you fall asleep but your sleep won’t be as restful as it should be.
- Don’t count sheep as it could turn falling asleep into more of an ordeal. Instead, try being in the moment – notice the sensation of the pillow on your cheek and the in-and-out movement of your breath. This is also a useful way of dealing with anxieties in the middle of the night.
- Keep a sleep diary. Keeping a record of your sleep patterns helps you identify issues you might not have considered and are useful when you consult a doctor.
- Try cognitive therapy. There might be underlying concerns you’re stressed about. Therapy is useful for dealing with that.