Expert Author Susan Leigh
What's your reaction when the alarm clock goes off in the morning? Do you automatically hit the snooze button, desperately craving just another 10 minutes peace? When we read that 90% adults say they don't get enough sleep and that stress and sleep-related issues cost UK businesses £40 billion last year it's no wonder that sleep and sleep tips receive so much attention in the media.
In fact, a new sleep disorder has recently been receiving a lot of coverage. Called Dysania it's a condition whereby sufferers are so fatigued and debilitated they have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, sometimes staying in bed for days. As yet there are no figures available to reveal how prevalent this condition is but there are certainly aspects of it that link to stress, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and pain disorders.
Even those of us who don't suffer from dysania may find that when we're over-tired or unhappy about our quality of sleep it can lead to us becoming anxious about going to bed and sleeping. A vicious cycle can ensue whereby we become preoccupied and even obsessive about our sleep; how many hours did we get, how often did we wake, how long did it take for us to drift off?
Here are some tips for those times when you struggle to get out of bed in the morning;
- Establishing a regular routine where we aim to go regularly to bed and get up at the same time each day is advisable. Even shift workers, often with erratic patterns and bedtimes, are advised to be consistent and keep to similar times in order to maintain some stability in their sleep patterns and lives. That way their minds and bodies become used to a regular schedule.
- Avoid too much excitement and stimulus, especially before bed. Maintaining a hectic social life may seem fun but it can cause havoc to your sleeping patterns. Try to minimise having too many late nights when you're working the next day. Keep serious or intense discussions for a more viable, mutually convenient time. It's often less than helpful to talk through difficult topics when you're both stressed, preoccupied or concerned about the coming day.
- Manage stress by getting to know your own stress indicators, those warning signs or 'amber lights', that happen when you're starting to feel a little fractured. edgy or off colour. You'll have your own personal signs that your stress levels are becoming too much for you to handle comfortably and at those times your quality of sleep may well become affected. It may difficult to drift off to sleep, you sleep fitfully, often wakening, or wake in the morning feeling jaded, unrefreshed, and it's a struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
- When you find yourself feeling that way it's time to schedule some positive breaks and to manage stress levels. Take an hour or even an afternoon for yourself and notice how your performance improves as a consequence. Eat healthy food, drink more water, have a leisurely bath, get into the habit of switching off your technology for a couple of hours before bed. Find ways to start looking after yourself well, manage stress and find that sleep becomes more beneficial as you start to go to bed a little earlier, treating sleep as an important part of your commitment to self-care.
- Get as much daylight and fresh air as you can in winter months. Try to take a walk at lunchtime or sit in a park or garden for 20 minutes with a book. Also some people like to have a lamp that gradually lights up as it introduces them to the day.
So many of us lead busy lives, cramming as much as possible into each day and then crashing into bed, exhausted, mind racing. By treating sleep as important and finding effective ways to manage stress we can start to become aware of the value of a good night's sleep and how much it influences our ability to get out of bed in the morning.
Preparing for bed by turning off technology two hours before bed and having a relaxing bath or shower, ensuring you have a cosy, clutter-free bedroom and comfortable bed all demonstrate that sleep is important to us. If sleep-related issues continue to be an issue consider having a health MOT from your family doctor. But these tips may enable you to deal with some of the symptoms, the irritants, manage stress, get a better night's sleep and end the struggle to get out of bed in the morning.