We’re told early on in life that sleep is one of the most important pillars to living a healthy and fulfilled life. So, no pressure. But what about those of us who don’t find sleep easy to come by, or have problems staying asleep? Well, we decided to do some legwork and find out why people were coming to blows with their bedtime.
The most common reasons for not getting enough sleep*
* These % figures are taken from Q4 of the Censuswide survey
There’s no shortage of reasons you might be struggling to drift off, and you’ll not be surprised to know that there’s no one common factor that means some people don’t get enough sleep.
Our research showed that over 18% of people surveyed were having trouble hitting the hay because of money worries. Almost 45% said that they agreed the impact of the cost-of-living crisis was keeping them awake at night, and a big portion of those people (21%) said that they were worried about being able to afford necessities like food and drink.
Family or relationship issues
Family and relationship problems can have a huge impact on our ability to get some quality shut eye. Out of everyone we surveyed, 9% said that family or relationship issues were stopping them from getting enough sleep. What’s more, it appears to be a bit of a vicious cycle. Because of its effect on mood control and emotional regulation, not getting enough sleep can put quite a strain on families and partnerships – with over 25% of people saying that sleep deprivation was negatively impacting their relationship with their partner.
Nearly 11% of respondents told us that pressure from work was contributing to their lack of sleep. It’s a lot easier said than done to take our whole selves with us when we shut down our laptops and walk away from our desks. Many of us take our work stresses home with us.
Health or medical problems
Coming second to money worries, with over 16% of people saying it affects their sleep, health and medical issues were another big factor. Chronic conditions like arthritis and sciatica can cause pain that has even the most relaxed people tossing and turning at night. Over 7% said that menopause was an obstacle to sound sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to physical and mental health issues
Lack of sleep causes more than just that groggy feeling and the desperate cry for caffeine. It can begin to affect your entire body, both physically and mentally. Almost 35% of our respondents (34.66%) said that their sleeping woes were negatively affecting their social life, and 29% said that they were also suffering from other mental health problems, like anxiety and depression.
Sleep is when your brain does its best work. When you sleep your brain creates connections to help you remember new information. Around 18% of the people we asked said that they were having difficulty concentrating or memory problems. So, it’s probably no surprise that over 30% said they were also struggling to keep up at work or in school.
Reduced motor abilities
More than 30% of people said they were feeling tired all the time, and it’s no secret that this can lead to carelessness and clumsiness. Many of us have been so tired that our body takes a while to catch up with our brain, otherwise known as delayed response time. This can affect our ability to do things safely, like driving or walking on a busy street. Lack of sleep can also mean that our muscles tire much quicker, meaning that we struggle to keep fit when we’re tired. This may explain why 20% of people said they were also experiencing weight gain alongside sleep issues.
Top 10 tips for better sleep
There’s something to be said for counting sheep. Adding a calming repetitive task to your bedtime routine can really help settle you down for the night. Knitting, reading, or doing a jigsaw puzzle can really help relax you before bed, easing you into slumber.
No phone zone
Or any device for that matter. The blue light from screens can interfere with producing the sleep hormone melatonin. Around 18% of people said they were trying to limit device time before bed to improve their sleep. So, as much as you may want to get that last scroll in, it’s important to try and avoid screens for at least an hour before you plan on going to bed.
Sticking to a routine
Consistency, whether it's a set bedtime or a nightly routine like skincare or having a soothing cup of tea, helps your brain recognize the pre-sleep wind-down and regulate your body’s internal clock. Just under 21% of survey respondents told us that they were trying to establish a regular sleep schedule.
Be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking
It may seem obvious to stay away from caffeine before bed, with over a quarter of people saying they were avoiding it later in the day, but other things you eat, and drink can affect your sleep too. 20% of people said they also avoid heavy meals or alcohol late in the evening to avoid things like acid reflux, or just plain old uncomfortable bloating.
Invest in your wellbeing
Taking time to follow guided meditation that helps promote sleep, or listening to white noise can make sleep come easier. Over 10% of people we spoke to were using meditation and mindfulness to improve their sleep quality. Apps like Headspace or Calm help you find sleep stories, rain noises and much more to help calm your mind down and get you ready for a blissful night’s sleep.
Try to limit daytime naps
Sometimes an afternoon siesta might feel like a great idea in theory, but actually it could be the reason you’re struggling to sleep at night. If you do need a nap, aim for before 3pm as anything past that becomes a danger nap, and could leave you awake till the early hours. You should also try and keep naps between 20 and 30 minutes as a power nap goal.
A significant portion of people (17%) said that they were trying to manage stress and anxiety with relaxation techniques. This could be as simple as breathwork, but over 16% of people said that they were making improvements to their environment for a more relaxing atmosphere. Writing everything down, speaking to a therapist, reading or doing yoga can also be real big stress busters.
Speak to a healthcare professional
If you feel like you’ve done everything out there but nothing’s helping, it might be time to speak to a doctor. They may refer you for therapies or discuss potential herbal remedies or other medicine that can help. They might even want to run some tests to search for an underlying cause.
Whatever the reason, and however you choose to manage your sleep, you deserve quality, uninterrupted rest.