“Why can’t I sleep?!”

“Why can’t I sleep?!” 1

The latest Population Health Survey in Hong Kong found that almost 50% of those surveyed had experienced some form of insomnia in the last 30 days. This could mean losing sleep because of difficulty falling asleep or waking intermittently in the night. It could also take the form of waking in the early morning and not being able to fall back asleep.

If you are one of the many people suffering from sleep disturbances, you will know that a lack of sleep can cause irritability, slowed reaction time, problems with your memory, and lack of focus/concentration. But, did you know that it might be detrimental to your immune system functioning and increase your chances of having depression and anxiety? In addition, it is associated with a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

After a long day, the last thing anyone wants is to have trouble sleeping. Here are a few sleep hygiene tips that can improve the quality of your sleep:

  1. Remove all electronics from your bedroom – This includes television, laptops, tablets, and phones. Opt for a traditional alarm clock.
  2. Establish a bedtime routine – Dim the lights in that last hour before bed to help your body to produce natural melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep onset. Do calming activities that do not involve looking at a computer or phone screen as the emission of blue light reduces the production of melatonin.
  3. Limit stimulants – Avoid things such as caffeine, nicotine, and sugar in the late afternoon and evening. Too much alcohol before bed can disturb sleep in the second half of the night as the body metabolizes it.
  4. Make your environment conducive to sleep – Invest in heavy curtains to block out light and sound or use an eye mask and earplugs. Keep the room cool.
  5. Get up if you can’t sleep – If you are lying awake in bed for 20 minutes, get up and out of the room to do something relaxing. Otherwise, you may begin to associate your bed with not sleeping. Have a small cup of herbal tea or milk, read a couple of pages of a magazine, or listen to calming music. Then try to go back to sleep.

If you have already tried the above and are still unable to sleep, you may want to consider seeing a psychologist and/or medical professional. The medical professional can rule out any underlying physical health issues that may be causing disruption, while a psychologist may assist you in dealing with thoughts and emotions getting in the way of a good night of sleep.