Sleep comes natural to many but difficult for some others. Most people sleep and wake up without a care in the world. However, some wake up with aches, pains and problems related to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping – or know someone who has – this article may be helpful. It explains some ideas that may be useful.

The unusual

A man came to see me recently complaining of severe back and neck pains when he woke up in the morning. Another woke up and was unable to move due to severe leg pains and weakness. He had to actually crawl out of bed on all fours. These are the extreme situations though and require proper investigations and management.

In the mind

Ordinarily, a disturbed night and difficulty sleeping can be due to a troubled mind. Some people carry the struggles of the day into bed which makes it difficult for them to rest and so they toss and turn all night long. Counting sheep does not help these people as their thoughts are interrupted regularly by their problems. However, a few tricks and decisions can make the difference for you.

Before you sleep

Before you actually decide to go to sleep, you need to clear your mind. The best way to do this is to review your day noting what you achieved and the things that remain undone. Focus on the positives and relegate the negatives to the past. Then, plan your next day, by listing the stuff you need to do and the order of priority. List only three!

Ditch the phone

Reading emails and messages in bed is not really ideal. It perpetuates your wakefulness and keep you worrying about things when you actually want to sleep. You should make it a habit to stop reading and responding to stuff long before you get into bed. Deal with stuff and close the chapter on your day to day activities to free your mind of clutter. No reading SMS messages once you have decided to go to sleep.

Stop eating late

Eating late at night or after 8 pm at the latest is bad for you. It does not allow the body systems to rest as the gut remains active trying to digest the food. Studies tend to show that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person’s typical sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy. Well, the body cannot convert it to energy since the body is actually shutting down in sleep mode for the day!

In bed

We think that sleeping on your bed with a small soft pillow under the neck and under the knees offer the best position for your neck and back. It seems to ease off the pressure on the spine and realigns you. Sleeping on the stomach is comfortable for some but is something we frown on. Especially after spine surgery, sleeping on the stomach puts much stress on the spine. Multiple pillows that kink the neck are also not good for you unless you have a heart condition and need to be elevated. Otherwise, try a small soft, flat pillow behind the neck for a restful spine.

How you sleep

Do you sleep curled up? Like a baby? It shows a lack of confidence as you make yourself small and insignificant. It portrays a lack of self-worth and insecurity. Some think it is better to sleep with reckless abandon, filling up the bed in a show of confidence and a sense of being. Take deep breaths and feel happy with yourself as you sleep. Women have also been advised to sleep in pyjamas or completely naked for health reasons!

Insomnia

You don’t usually need to think very much about sleep. It’s an ordinary part of life, but sometimes you just can’t sleep properly (we call it insomnia). It’s usually just for a short time, perhaps when you’re worried or excited about something. When things settle down, you start to sleep properly again. If you truly can’t sleep properly, it can be a real problem and you might need to see a doctor for some assistance with medical treatme

Wake up

On waking up, stretch out in bed making yourself as tall as possible. This increases your confidence and ensures you fill your mind and spirit with a can-do attitude as you go out to conquer the world. Minimise your trips to the bathroom by planning your activities better. Go to the bathroom once and do all you need to do which saves you time and energy, as you get ready for the day.

This means, use the toilet, brush your teeth, shave, have a bath or shower, etc, etc, in a nice smooth sequence: not going in and out as you remember what next to do. Focus, plan, execute and then carry this efficiency into your day for maximum impact.

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