This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

Sleep Troubles Mean Different Things Depending On When They Occur

USA, New Jersey, Man sleeping in bed
USA, New Jersey, Man sleeping in bed

There are few things worse than a bad night's sleep. Anecdotally we know it makes us irritable and grumpy, but science also shows that sleep deprivation can be attributed to a myriad of health concerns and even weight gain.

It turns out that when the actual problem occurs means different things. Whether you have trouble getting to sleep initially or you wake in the night might indicate the lifestyle changes you need to make for a better nights rest.

"Going to sleep relies on a sleep drive that overcomes a wake drive in a yin-yang fashion," Doctor Dev Banerjee, Sleep and Respiratory expert, told the Huffington Post Australia.

"We sleep in a cycle of around two hours -- so waking up in two or four hours time from when you went to bed is not uncommon. The most common cause of not getting back to sleep after one cycle of sleep is that the mind kicks into overdrive -- suddenly thinking about work or personal issues from the previous day."

Banerjee suggests trying to make sure your stresses are out of your system by bed time. Trial writing down to-do lists so that you can rest assured knowing you won't forget what needs doing the next day. A pad and pen next to your bed might help for thoughts that occur in the night.

"If you can't get back to sleep in 20 minutes, and you feel you are getting frustrated, I suggest you try another bedroom or lounge -- stay in dimmed light and once you are feeling sleepy again, go back to bed. This control stimulus therapy remedies the brain from previously associating a location with bad sleep and frustration," said Banerjee.

If you have trouble falling asleep when you first get to bed, Banerjee suggests asking yourself if you feel sleepy.

"It is difficult to fall asleep if you're not sleepy, and the more you try, the harder it becomes. Falling asleep should be effortless!"

"Secondly, what state of mind are you in at night time? A relaxed state, or a "fight, fright and fight" situation where you can not wind down because the day has been go go go?"

Banerjee insists that relaxation in the evening is very important in order to wind down in order to be tired enough to go to sleep, and get a good night's rest.

"The evening should be a state of winding down. Turn the lights down, reduce the volume of music or television, and don't doing vigorous exercise before bed time," said Banerjee.

Lastly, Banerjee suggests working out if you have "anticipatory wake-up anxiety" -- the worry that you only have a certain amount of hours before you have to be up. Try working backwards to allow an ample eight hours, and set a few alarms as a safe guard.

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