Can’t sleep? Counting sheep?
It would seem that if you can’t get a good night’s sleep, it’s meant to be all your fault. That seems to be some of the gist that you will read of online advice, anyway. It’s all about how you must be using your phone before going to bed or failing to keep the room sufficiently cool. It’s your fault you can’t sleep, and all you have to do is modify your behaviour if you want to fix the problem.
So, you go ahead and you do that. You practise the best sleep hygiene that has ever been practised; have the comfiest foam mattress you could get your hands on; you do all the right things… and you still find yourself lying there, night after night, not able to drift off. The end result is not only a huge case of sleep deprivation, but also a frustration at the idea you must be doing something wrong.
Well, there might be a cause for your lack of sleep beyond anything you have control over. There are a few common conditions which can mean your ability to drift into the land of nod is severely compromised – other than being a parent of course and having your little darlings keep you up all night that is.
There is no doubt that children can be total sleep thieves, but it might not be all down to them.
Curious? Here’s an overview of some of the most common reasons you’re up all night:
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (commonly referred to by the acronym RLS) is one of those illnesses that can sneak up on you. It sounds, on the surface, incredibly bizarre and almost comical – but suffering from it is anything but.
If you ever find yourself settling down to sleep and then feeling the intense urge to move your legs, then RLS might be the cause. It’s not a serious condition so there’s no need for concern, but it can seriously damage your sleep quality. The urge to move your legs is hard to define; it’s a creeping, crawling sensation that is only alleviated by physical activity – not ideal if you’re trying to sleep!
The other problem RLS can cause is leg cramps at night. Again, these are only alleviated if you move or stretch – though they will quickly return when you try to lie still again.
What To Do? If you think this might be a problem for you, see your doctor. There’s also some common evidence that suggestions potassium depletion might be the cause of the issue, so snacking on a banana every now and again might help. You could also try drinking tonic water before bed; it contains a small amount of quinine, a component known for helping RLS.
Are you a snorer? If you are, then sleep apnea might be the cause. Sleep apnea is basically a condition that means you stop breathing while sleeping – that sounds a lot more terrifying than it is! Your body will quickly jerk you back awake to fix the problem and let you breathe, but your sleep is going to be deeply disturbed. Just as you feel you’re drifting off, you are jolted back out of your slumber and into more frustration.
What To Do? Again – see a doctor. You will likely undergo a sleep study, which will show if you have the condition or not. If you do, then there are devices called CPAP machines which can help regulate your breathing so you can finally sleep soundly.
Do you have problems sleeping?