Habits for a healthy sleep
Posted by: the personal injury help and advice team
According to Public Health England, insomnia affects one in three Brits, a statistic which rises for those who have suffered a personal injury. Quality of sleep can deteriorate due to the physical aspects surrounding an accident such as back pain, as well as the psychological impacts such as stress and anxiety.
But sleep is critical to recovery, argues Public Health England, therefore ensuring the correct routine can be vital to easing this process. We consider some small but significant ways to improve sleep quality and, in turn, everyday life.
Establish a regular routine
Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep, though routines will differ from person to person. Planning what time to go to sleep and wake up, and sticking to this, is the starting point to determining a regular routine.
Make sure to be in bed at a specific time, without distraction, and set an alarm for waking up too. It may be beneficial to keep a sleep diary in order to uncover unhealthy sleeping habits as well as underlying reasons for sleep deprivation.
Wind down before bed
It’s important to signal to the body and mind that it’s time to sleep; whether that involves drinking a herbal tea or writing a journal. Though not for everybody, there are some key ways to avoid stimulating the mind and help prepare the body to relax:
- Reduce device usage and use ‘sleep mode’ to diminish harsh blue tones
- Avoid stimulating substances such as caffeine at least 4 hours before sleeping
- Have a warm bath to allow the body to reach its ideal temperature for resting
- Try some light exercise such as yoga or mindfulness techniques such as meditation
- Organise your thoughts by writing a to-do list for the following day
- Distract the mind by reading a book or listening to some music
Monitor light levels
Research suggests that one of the most important aspects affecting sleep is light exposure. Exposure to natural or artificial light during alert hours is essential to signalling when it is and isn’t time to sleep.
To provide an appropriate sleeping environment, a bedroom should aim to be completely dark. According to The Sleep Council, the smallest amount of light can suppress melatonin; the sleep-inducing hormone is light sensitive and cannot always be produced unless a room is light-proofed.
Create a restful environment
As well as monitoring light levels, ensure the room is both suitable in temperature and noise. In louder environments, ear plugs may be necessary. The ideal temperature for sleeping should be around 18 degrees Celsius and anything above or below this may hinder the body’s ability to switch on its sleep mechanism.
Though a room should be on the cooler side to suit the body’s sleeping temperature, studies have found that cold hands and feet are associated with sleeplessness. Check the suitability of duvets for each season and replace mattresses every 8 years approximately.
Know the signs of sleep deprivation
Having trouble falling to sleep at night, waking up feeling unrested, waking up during the night, and feeling tired during the day all indicate to a higher chance of sleep deprivation. Other signs include:
- Overwhelming exhaustion or fatigue
- Poor concentration and frequent distraction
- Difficulty with decision-making
- Reduced communication
- Lack of memory
- Low or irritable mood
- Impulsivity and risk-taking
Sleep deprivation is a likely reality after an accident. It is important to note that some medication can cause sleep problems, but if unhealthy sleep compromises everyday life, consider visiting a GP for recommended alternatives.
For those who have suffered a personal injury and are experiencing these symptoms, it may be essential to seek medical advice. Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of neurological conditions but could indicate to Traumatic Brain Injury, whilst insomnia may be closely linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.