And what to do about them

In our everyday lives, there are many things that deprive us of getting a good night’s sleep. I have looked at the things that have kept me awake over the years and will tell you what I did to correct the issues. In addition, I am going to look at what I would do now to solve the same issues, which might be totally different from what I did when the distraction what happening.

1.      A crying baby – Let’s start with a complicated distraction with this one. First, is the baby yours? If not and you don’t have any way of doing anything to help the situation such it is the baby next door, then get some earplugs for the time being. If the baby is your responsibility, then you need to check the situation not only for yourself, but everyone that might be affected by the crying.

2.      Room Temperature – Is the room too hot to fall asleep or does a blast of hot air wake you up from a deep sleep? If either of these happens to you, think about sleeping under a cotton sheet, wearing lightweight cotton sleeveless pajamas or nothing at all, getting a fan (ceiling or bedside oscillating stand), drinking a glass of water, or simply turning the temperature down on the thermostat. Remember that cotton is an all-natural breathable material that is absorbent, unlike synthetic fibers that are often blended into cotton to make fabrics permanent press. If the room is too cold, try warming up your environment by turning up the thermostat, adding another layer of covers or a thicker blanket, wearing flannel long-sleeved pajamas, or sleeping with another person (two bodies produce more heat than one).

3.      A bright light – Did the city just placed a new street light put into place right outside of your bedroom window? If so, shooting out the very expensive light bulb might solve the problem temporarily, but I am sure that when they catch up with what you have done you will have even more problems than difficulty falling asleep with a bright light in your room – I don’t recommend this as a solution in any way! A better solution might be to get light blocking curtains or enjoy the benefits of a good blindfold.

4.      Stress – Are you worrying about something or are your problems getting out of hand? Getting a good night’s sleep might be the best thing you can do for yourself now to have the ability to actually think clearly about what is bothering you to come up with a great solution. Unfortunately, this is a situation that feeds upon itself and can take the most work to overcome it. One of the most important things to remember if you are having trouble falling asleep because your mind won’t shut down is that you aren’t doing yourself any good just tossing and turning in bed. If you just can’t stop thinking or worrying, get up and do something that will distract you. I am not talking about getting up and cleaning the house or painting the room. Instead, try reading a book or magazine article (especially something boring), take a warm bath, sip a warm cup of chamomile tea, listen to some soothing music, or watch a quiet movie. When you start to feel more relaxed, slip into bed and think about something soothing. Tomorrow will look better after a good night’s sleep.

5.      A noisy bed partner – Does he/she snore really that loud? Maybe it is time to consider separate rooms. And then again, that may not be the best solution for other reasons. It might be time to get them to the doctor to make sure they are not having serious issues that is also affecting their sleep. If their snoring is something you are just going to have to get used to, then I suggest a set of good ear plugs.

6.      An uncomfortable bed – Is it time for a new mattress or can you work with the one you have? If your mattress is just too hard for you (and this is almost always based on personal preferences), then you can try getting a soft topper that goes between the mattress and your sheets. There are many options on the market specifically made for this purpose from memory foam, egg crate foam, and down, to name a few. If your mattress is too soft, the old adage of putting a board under the mattress might help a little. In this situation, if the mattress is in great shape a memory foam topper might help. It is more difficult to make a soft bed firmer. If all else fails or your mattress is just too old, lumpy, saggy, whatever, it might be time to consider a new mattress. Since we spend about one-third of our lives in bed, we should treat ourselves to the best bed possible given our financial situations. Take your time when you are selecting your new bed. Shop around and make sure you get the most for your money (this will help to reduce the stress – problem #4 - of spending the money, figuring out how to get it home, how to dispose of the old mattress, etc.). A comfortable bed is a must!

7.      Pets – Pets are “man’s best friend”, except in the bedroom where they can be a distraction to getting a good night’s sleep. Don’t get me wrong, a good guard dog can go a long way towards easing a person’s mind against intruders and give their owner with peace of mind to insure a good night’s sleep. The problem is more to do with a dog’s natural tendency to be nocturnal. Even with the best of training, a pet needs help to open a door to go outside just to go to the bathroom. As a result, when the urge hits them, they have to get you up – then! A good solution is to make them a comfortable bed just outside your bedroom door. If you are sound asleep when they need to go outside, you probably won’t hear them and they will just wait till you are awake to help them – or so we can only hope.

This list could go on for many more pages, but I think you get my point. Take a good look at your own situation and devise your own list of what keeps you from sleeping. Once you have your own list, determine what you can change and do it as quickly as possible. There is no reason to continue to suffer from sleep deprivation symptoms from something you can fix.