Lots of people have difficulty getting or staying asleep. Having problems with sleep can happen to anyone, and has different effects. Not being able to sleep properly is sometimes called insomnia, and can become a problem as we need sleep to keep healthy.
When you fall asleep, you go through different stages – and there are two main ones:
During this stage your brain is very active, and dreaming occurs. This stage comes and goes throughout the night, and your muscles are relaxed.
Your body moves around more frequently during this stage, but your brain is much less active. Your body is repairing itself after the day, and hormones are slowly released into the bloodstream. You can move between REM and non-REM sleep about 5 times during the night.
The amount of sleep we need depends on lots of things, and is different for everyone.
Most adults need between 7-8 hours, but the amount of time you are sleeping can depend on what you do throughout the day, if you are stressed, or if you are on medication.
But I feel like I never sleep?
The short times when you are awake in bed can seem much longer than they really are. Sometimes you can think you are not getting as much sleep as you actually are.
What happens if I don’t sleep?
Not sleeping well occasionally may cause you to feel tired the next day, but won’t harm your overall health. However, if you are consistently not sleeping well, this can have negative effects:
Lack of sleep can make us feel physically unwell as well as stressed and anxious, and scientists also believe that it contributes to heart disease, premature ageing and road accident deaths.
There are lots of different sleeping problems:
Sleeping problems can cause you to not get enough sleep or feel well-rested, and can result in insomnia (sleeping too little).
There are many reasons for not sleeping well:
Worrying about not being able to sleep can stop you from getting to sleep or not sleeping well. Staring at the clock or lying awake can make you anxious which in turn will affect your sleeping.
Think about what could be causing you to not be getting enough sleep – is there something which is worrying you? Are you drinking caffeinated drinks before bed? If you can discover what the problem may be, it is easier to find ways to make it better.
Remember that not getting enough sleep will not harm you, and you will eventually fall asleep after a while. Worrying about sleep can make things worse and keep you awake for longer.
Take your mind of sleeping by reading, relaxing or thinking about planning something nice, like an outing or holiday.
Some tips that you may find helpful: