Getting No Sleep – 6 Key Factors for Great Sleep

No Sleep

Written by Alan Anderson

Getting no sleep can be a real problem when you are trying to cope with a busy life. At first it can leave you feeling drained of energy and unable to focus with a brain that feels fuzzy like cotton wool.  After several nights of sleep deprivation my coffee consumption would go from two a day to around ten. This helped in the short term, but it only compounded the problems of getting to sleep the next night and so the downward spiral of poor sleep would continue.

Having no sleep for a few nights is not going to kill you, it just makes everyday life a little more challenging.

I found from experience that left unchecked, getting little or no sleep on a regular basis can leave you more stressed and ultimately damage your health. It can also lead us to using ‘crutches’ to get by. These can include excessive use of alcohol, prescription drugs which can rob you of your over-all well-being and peak mental and physical performance.

If you are having sleep problems, take some action to turn it around. Don’t allow your health to spiral out of control. Try out the 6 Key Factors for Great Sleep below.

Factor #1- Build a Great Sleep Routine

Doctors generally agree we need at least 6 to 8 hours sleep each night for long term good health. Become aware of your sleep rhythm and don’t fight it when you are getting no sleep. Be consistent with your sleep time. When we get no sleep for a period you may find yourself trying to catch up by using day time naps. The key point here is not to overdo your daytime naps when you are trying to recover your energy after a period of no sleep. Make your naps up to twenty-minutes maximum and take a nap earlier in the day so it does not interrupt your ability to sleep at night.

One of the most powerful techniques that worked for me when I was getting no sleep was to build a ‘chill time’ to allow a quiet time to transition from wide awake to sleep state.

We sleep better when our body is cool, so don’t overheat your body with too many layers of bedding.  Also, remember to limit the use of your snooze button in the morning. Snoozing can make you feel like you’ve had no sleep. Sleep experts say you are better to wake up naturally at the end of your natural sleep cycle.

No Sleep Sanctuary

Factor #2- Build a Great Sleep Sanctuary

For great sleep your bedroom should be limited to two activities which are sleep and sex and nothing else. All other activities are a potential distraction to good sleep and so it is really beneficial to try for Zero distractions in your bedroom.

That means not pets, no television, no smart phones, no tablets and no laptops. When I talk to people about this you can almost feel the gasp of shock. ‘What do you mean no television or tablet. Even if you don’t remove these completely, it’s important to turn them off at least 30 minutes before your sleep. This gives you mind and body time to ‘chill’ and prepare to switch into sleep mode.

Make sure your pillow is fresh and supports your head and neck. Also, make sure your mattress is firm but comfortable. It is important to keep your bedroom well ventilated.

Clock watching can be one of the most aggravating problems when we are getting no sleep. If you are a clock watcher like me, put it in your bedside drawer so you can hear the alarm in the morning.

Part of the natural sleep cycle is about our brain producing melatonin for help us feel drowsy. The trigger for this natural sleep hormone is low levels of light associated with the night time hours. To help your mind and body produce this sleep inducing hormone make sure your bedroom darker than other areas of your home to help induce this natural relaxed state before sleep.

No Sleep Exercise

Factor 3#- Use Physical Activity to Improve Sleep

Stress and body tension can limit our ability to relax before sleep occurs. Without getting into a full gym session, try using gentle muscle stretching exercises to relax your body well before you want to sleep.

One of the most powerful physical activities before sleep is as simple as monitoring and being aware of our breathing.  The simple act of focussing our attention on our breath and taking several long deep breaths can help to relax our body and our mind. Try around five to ten deep but gentle breaths to help you transition into sleep. The key here is not to treat this like an exercise program but a process of letting go to allow the natural sleep process to take over.

Exercise is vital for good health and great sleep. The key point here is to do your exercising well before bedtime otherwise you may end up overheated and unable to sleep.

no sleep coffee

Factor 4#- What You Consume Can Impact Sleep

There is nothing more annoying when you finally get to sleep and a few hours in you need to get up to go to the bathroom. Reducing fluid intake in the evening will minimise interruptions during the night for bathroom breaks.

It can also help your sleep if you make sure your evening meals are light and eaten well in advance of your bedtime so you not too full which can leave you feeling very uncomfortable when you try to sleep.

If you are a smoker, remember that cigarettes contain nicotine which is a stimulant that can interrupt sleep.

I fell into the trap of using alcohol to help me sleep.  Yes, alcohol can initially make you feel drowsy, but it is also a stimulant that can interrupt good sleep once the drowsiness wears off.

Without realizing it we can also be ingesting stimulants that impact our ability to sleep and we are not even aware of them. Many over the counter medicines contain hidden stimulants like caffeine, which is why it is important to read any labels to make sure they don’t include stimulants like caffeine that can interrupt our natural sleep cycle.  This also means limiting certain drinks in the evening like coffee, tea and many sodas as they all contain caffeine.

no sleep de-stress

Factor #5- Learn to De-Stress Your Body & Mind for Great Sleep

Body and Mind Stress are two of the key causes of poor sleep. Stress is so prevalent in our fast-paced world that it is important to learn to relax your body and mind to achieve great sleep.

As outlined in factor #3, Use deep breathing and muscle stretches can help us to relax our body. I found these weren’t always effective for my so I learned to use Progressive Muscle Relaxation to relax my muscles before sleep. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a structure way of tensing and then releasing every set of muscles in the body, which when combined with deep slow breathing can be a powerful technique for stress reduction and sleep improvement.

The most widely researched deep relaxation technique that helped me improve my ability prepare for sleep was meditation. Learning to meditate is one of the most widely recognized methods of reducing stress and allowing our bodies to induce our own deep relaxation response.

A warm bath can be a great way to relax muscles before sleep. The key point here is to not overheat your body as this can interrupt sleep.

If you find your mind is very busy when you are trying to sleep you may find writing your thoughts in a journal really therapeutic. Use a writing journal to unload your busy mind before you try to sleep.

You can also Introduce relaxing music and sound to help relax your mind before sleep time as part of creating a powerful ‘chill time’ in preparation for sleep.

Factor 6#- Engage All Your Senses for Great Sleep

Take a moment to think about the incredible power of your senses. The sense of sight, smell, touch and hearing can all have a profound impact on our life including our ability to overcome the problem of getting no sleep.

Use Your Sense of Sight

I have already mentioned how we produce melatonin in the evening as part of our natural sleep cycle. This melatonin makes us feel drowsy and ready for sleep and is produced as the sun goes down. Melatonin production is triggered by the level of light being sensed by your eyes and your brain.  To help this natural process lower the light levels in your home in the evening. Lowering the light levels is the trigger for the natural production of this hormone melatonin which will help you feel drowsy and ready for sleep. Consider switching off all devices that emit light at least a half an hour before your planned sleep time. That includes televisions, tablets, smart phones and laptops.

No Sleep Lavender

Use Your Sense of Smell

Add a drop of lavender oil to a tissue and put it inside your pillow or add a few drops of lavender oil to a warm bath well before you want to sleep. Aromatherapy oils can also help you to create a general freshness to your sleeping environment. This is one of my favorite tips. Try it out, it really helped me when I was getting no sleep.

Use Your Sense of Touch

When you are getting poor sleep, the effect of touch can have an amplified impact on how we feel and if we are comfortable enough to get to sleep. If you do not feel comfortable you cannot relax. If you cannot relax then the natural sleep process will not allow you to transition into sleep.

As previously mentioned, if you find yourself getting no sleep you may find a warm bath can help to feel relaxed. Remember to do this well before sleep time as you want your body to cool down before you try to sleep. Also, remember to review the comfort of your bed and bedding. Does it help to induce a feeling of relaxed comfort?  When facing the daunting impact of no sleep, any technique that helps you feel good and relaxed will help you to achieve quality sleep.

Use Your Sense of Hearing

Using relaxing sound tracks can be one of the most powerful additions to your sleep preparation plan.  You can find more about sleep music and other resources for great sleep here.

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