Welcome to part 2 of the sleep blog. I have been working with my Clients for at least 4 weeks now to understand why they were having trouble sleeping, some common themes, some suggested solutions and their results. From discussions and looking at noted results, I can identify two main themes: Waking up multiple times in the night and taking ages to get to sleep. The reasons have varied quite substantially but are listed below:
- Children waking them up
- House noises and partner snoring
- Room temperature – too hot or too cold
- Alcohol consumption before going to bed
- Hormones – monthly menstrual cycle or menopause
- Needing a wee in the night
- Eating too late in the evening or too much dairy later in the evening.
Below are three separate Client situations that I have worked on with them to understand a pattern then try to resolve. For the purposes of anonymity, I have not used their real names:
Case study 1: David – alcohol
David works very hard and has a high powered and stressful job. He tries a number of different ways to relax at the end of his day, including having a nice, warm bath and good levels of exercise, but he is partial to a few glasses of wine at the end of the day as well. After looking at patterns of sleep, in conjunction with his daily food/drink consumption, there is a distinct pattern between the evenings he didn’t sleep well and the amount of alcohol consumed that evening. After a week trial of not drinking as much or any alcohol, there was a marked improvement in quality of sleep and length of time staying asleep. Although falling asleep can be a little easier after consuming alcohol, it is being processed in your body and will disrupt your systems normal patterns, causing a disturbed nights’ sleep.
“On the face of it, drinking an alcoholic beverage before bed may seem like a great way to get to sleep. After all, ethanol’s depressant effects on the CNS lead to drowsiness and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, irrespective of how much ethanol has been consumed. However, once asleep, ethanol can disrupt normal sleep patterns so that the quality of sleep, measured by the time spent in REM and non-REM sleep and total time asleep is reduced. Non-REM deep sleep is considered as regenerative, mainly due to the release of growth hormone, and, although this type of sleep is increased when ethanol is consumed, growth hormone secretion by the pituitary gland is decreased” (Roehrs & Roth, 2001).
Case study 2: Jane – noise
Jane lives in a busy household with husband, children and their dog and they live in a lovely, but creaky, house. It is rarely quiet and the family’s sleep patterns are all different. Since becoming a mother, Jane has found she has become a very light sleeper and the slightest bit of noise wakes her up and she is on edge to react if need be, then finds it hard to get back to sleep. Her husband snores, her (older) children often go to bed later than her and her dog sleeps in their room and can move around in the night. The solution we discussed was to try ear plugs. If the only thing preventing Jane from a restful night is the noise then we tried reducing this. The correct ear plugs needed to be found to fit comfortably and not fall out in the night, but this has so far worked very well.
Case study 3: Sarah – hormones
Sarah has, since a young age, not enjoyed a very comfortable monthly menstrual cycle. She is still young and hasn’t had children yet but finds that one week in the month she really struggles to sleep. We looked at a number of factors to see what could be changed to help in this week. Exercise definitely helps and when Sarah is physically tired not just mentally, she definitely sleeps better but we found that if her body temperature could be regulated more effectively, this really helped. If you can ensure your room is very slightly lower, layer your bed clothes so you can remove layers or add layers as you need and ensure your PJ’s are made from a breathable, cotton material. These slight amends really helped keep Sarah more comfortable overnight and so aided a more restful sleep.
“Your body temperature dips a bit just before your ovary releases an egg. Then, 24 hours after the egg’s release, your temperature rises and stays up for several days. Before ovulation, a woman’s BBT averages between 97°F (36.1°C) and 97.5°F (36.4°C). After ovulation, it rises to 97.6°F (36.4°C) to 98.6°F (37°C).” (University of Michigan Health, 2020)
If you are struggling to sleep and would like some help, although I am not a professional sleep expert, please let me know and I would be happy to share any thoughts and further details about the above findings.
Sleep well… x