Tips to Control Sleep Difficulties

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2018

Sleep difficulties can be caused as a result of several factors including stress, illness, travel or unexpected interruptions to a daily routine. Having difficulty sleeping at night makes the person feel dizzy and sleepy throughout the day and reduces his/her efficiency in performing the regular activities. Studies reveal that one and a half hours less sleep time is associated with around one-third reduction in daytime alertness.

This can have a significant impact on a person’s productivity at work and even make them more likely to be involved in a car accident. As a result, remedies and tips need to be followed in order to reduce sleep deprivation and control sleep difficulties.

Improving Daytime Habits

The first tip to enhance the quality of sleep is to adjust the daytime habits by maintaining a regular daytime routine of activities, including regular exercises and little or no naps during the day. This would utilize the body’s energy and make it crave some rest at night time. People who exhaust their bodies during their wake-up times are more likely to fall asleep faster when it is time to.

Nevertheless, it is essential to allow 3-4 hours between the exercise time and sleep time in order to give the body the chance to calm down after the exercise and get ready for a good night sleep. More relaxing practices, such as yoga, can, however, be performed before sleeping to reduce sleep difficulties.    

A Comfortable Bed Routine

Developing a comfortable and soothing bedtime routine is also particularly useful in reducing sleep difficulties. That is, by preparing yourself for sleep, the body starts to adapt to sleep mode and is likely to get to sleep faster. This routine can include switching off the lights and ensuring the room is quiet, at a suitable temperature with comfortable bedsheets and pillows to help the body relax into deep sleep. A warm bath or comfortable music can also help with the relaxation. On the other hand, continued staring at mobile phones, laptops or reading devices make it difficult to fall asleep.

Fixed Sleep Time

Fixing sleep times is also quite useful in helping the body develop a sleep routine. This is because the human body has an internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm or the 24-hour cycle, which regulates its functionality based on the time of the day and whether the body is in sleep or active modes. Having fixed sleep times keeps this clock-regulated and makes it easier for the body to fall into sleep whenever it is ‘sleep time.’

This may be quite difficult for workers on shift-based duties as they need to change their working hours frequently, which thereby disturbs their biological clock introducing sleep difficulties. Nevertheless, in order to reduce the impact of this shift work on the body, it is recommended to request a later shift than an earlier one. This is because adjusting forward in time is scientifically known to be easier than adjusting backward, and hence the impact of a later shift may not be as strong as an early shift.

It is also recommended to work on their sleep-wake cycle by associating sleep and wake time with certain patterns of light. For example, one can make sure he/she is exposed to bright light when at work even if he/she is a night shift, and then ensure sufficient dimming when it is time to sleep even though it may be morning time. This is significantly useful in helping the body get to sleep mode when it is required.

Foods that Affect the Sleep Pattern

Certain food habits can also be followed to ease falling asleep. To begin with, reducing the amount of coffee and tea taken during the day, particularly as you approach sleep time, would significantly help improve your sleep routine. This is because coffee and tea include caffeine at varying percentages, and being a stimulant, it makes the body quite restless at night. Caffeine can actually remain in the blood for around 14 hours which directly reduces the total number of hours that you can get of restful sleep.

Alcohol is also a stimulant particularly as it gets metabolized in the body systems and hence is also a cause for sleep difficulties. Also, avoiding heavy meals at nighttime is also essential, because the heavy meal requires intensive digestion efforts that would require the body to stay alert in order to be able to absorb the meal before relaxing into sleep mode.

Peace of Mind

In addition to all the above-mentioned tips, having a peaceful mind is a key element to enable good night sleep. Overthinking is known to keep the brain alert and makes it difficult for it to shut down and indulge in deep sleep. This thinking can be of deadlines, exams, social life conflicts or even job crises, all of which are referred to as psychological stressors that may prevent the person from sleeping or causing several wake-ups during the night. One needs to train him/herself to avoid excessive thinking about such topics before going to bed.

This may, however, seem to be easier said than done. Nevertheless, one can reduce the nighttime thinking about deadlines and exams, for example, by developing the habit of journaling by listing down his/her to-do list before going to bed. Journaling can be even used to write down experiences, feelings and other mind-boggling ideas before attempting to sleep. By writing something down, the brain is less likely to think about it as it has recorded it somewhere else. It will then be easier and faster to indulge in restful sleep.


Sleep deprivation can cause severe short-term and long-term problems if it is not controlled and regulated at an early stage. The most important factor in controlling sleep difficulties is to acknowledge the reason or reasons behind them. Once these causes are identified and diagnosed, it becomes easier to look for and apply remedies to help regulate the body’s sleeping pattern.