Fed up of lying in bed staring at the ceiling struggling to nod off? You're not alone. Over half of all adults almost never have a full night's sleep without being disturbed, while a third of us apparently get less than six hours of sleep a night. And there's lots of reasons why this might be, from too much on your mind to an uncomfy bed.
Homeware and bedding specialists, Dunelm, recently asked 2,000 adults their top reasons for not getting enough sleep and found 10 common villians that are regularly stealing away our time in the land of nod. See which reasons are stopping you from getting forty winks, and what you can do about it to reclaim your full eight hours kip.
1. Worrying about money
According to Dunelm's survey, one of the biggest reasons we're tossing and turning in bed is because we're fretting about finances. Although getting out of tricky money situations can seem like a big feat, burying your head in the pillow and wearing yourself down with worry is not the answer. In fact, getting a good night's sleep will make it easier for you to deal with your money issues with a clearer head in the morning.
To start with, make sure you never do any of your fiannces and don't keep your financial papers in your bedroom- keep it a relaxing place that's completely separate from that side of your life. Try and avoid drinking alcohol before bed too as this can exacerbate your feelings, as well as making it much more likely that you'll wake up throughout the night.
If money worries are getting you down, there are plenty of places you can get advice. Mind offers support for people facing mental health problems, whether they're caused by financial worries or anything else. You can find Mind online at www.mind.org.uk or call an advisor in confidence on 0300 123 3393. Calls are charged at local rates, but will cost more from a mobile phone.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) also offers free, impartial and confidential advice on debt. Its staff receive specific training on mental health problems too, so you can talk to its advisors, in confidence, about your worries. You can find the CAB online at www.adviceguide.org.uk or by making an appointment at your local branch, which you can search for online.
2. Being too hot or cold
Being the wrong temperature at night is almost always going to cause you a restless nights' sleep. The best way to avoid overheating or getting too cold is to sort your sleeping conditions out before you clamber into bed.
In summer, keep your curtains and blinds drawn during the day to keep the sun out and then open your windows and doors at night to let the air in. Try having a cool shower before going to sleep and keep a glass of cold water by the bed. You could also try putting your pillow case in the fridge for an hour or so, so that it's nice and cold for you to sleep on.
If you get too cold in bed, layer up your pyjamas and have a glass of warm milk before bed. Choose a duvet with a high tog and do some gentle exercise, such as a few yoga moves or stretches, just before bed to get your circulation going (nothing too vigorous though or you're likely to end up feeling wide awake).
3. A snoring partner
You won't be able to get rid of snoring overnight but there are some things your partner can try so that both of you get a better night's sleep. First of all, encourage them to eat well, take some exercise and if neccesary, try and lose some weight as fatty tissue that builds up around the neck is often one of the main causes for snoring. Try get them to always lay on their side rather than their back too and cut down on alcohol as this tends to make the problem worse.
If nothing seems to be working, encourage them to go and see a GP who should be able to look into the causes of the snoring and recommend a treatment. You may also want to invest in some earplugs or consider moving to another room so that you get a peaceful night's sleep.
4. A bad cough or cold
Coughs and sneezes keeping you awake? Don't make the mistake of stacking on an extra pillow to prop you up as this can make your symptoms worse. Keep the temperature of your bedroom comfortable so you don't wake up in a sweat and consider taking over-the-counter medications to help reduce your cold symptoms, especially ones that don't contain caffeine.
5. Aching joints and muscles
First things first, try work out which position you feel most comfortable in bed- on your side with a pillow between your knees is often a good choice. Taking a warm bath before bed will also help ease stiff and painful joints.
Try keeping a diary of what you eat and drink during the day, the activities you do and how well you've slept that night. This way you should be able to spot if there are triggers, such as citrus or carrying something heavy, that are making your joints ache more at night. You could also try some rosehip syrup (full of vitamin C) and eating cherries to help reduce inflammation and ease your joints and muscles.
6. Noisy neighbours and car alarms
We've all been there crawling up the walls when a car alarm starts screeching at 4am or the local teenagers are still enjoying their wild parties well into the early hours. But it's not always easy to know what to do or to say in these situations.
If a car alarm goes off, first of all identify who's car it is and that it is not being stolen. If there's any doubt, call the police. Often alarms have a 20-minute cut-out device but if it continues or occurs on multiple nights, you can call the Environmental Health Team of your local council- you'll often find this on your council's website.
If you're having problems with your neighbours and noise, try resolving the problem by popping round to mention your concerns. If you neighbour is a tenant and does not own the property, you can also contact their landlord about the problem. If you can't sort the problem this way, you can get help from a mediation service. This is a kind of impartial middle man trained in dealing with disputes. They do often charge a fee for this service but it can be worth it if you're just not getting anywhere chatting face to face. You can find more information on mediation services here.
If you're often woken by just general noise outside, such as traffic, consider getting heavier curtains or special blinds blinds that would better pad out your windows. This will also help keep keep light out better so the rising sun won't wake you so easily.
7. Uncomfortable bed
Flat or lumpy pillows and a broken or poor mattress is generally a recipe for aches and pains and a bad night's sleep. So look for the perfect pillow that will keep your head and neck aligned. If you sleep on your side you'll probably need a firm pillow while you'll want something much softer if you're on your back or front. Choose synthetic pillows if you suffer from any allergies. Shop for new synthetic pillows every two years and down pillows every ten.
A good mattress usually lasts around ten years- if you've had yours longer than this you might want to consider having an update. Get a mattress topper or protector to keep your mattress clean and in good condition for longer. You should also air your mattress weekly by turning back the covers to let it ventialte. Turn your mattress regularly to stop dipping too- but make sure you get someone to help you with this.
Whether you've got a talkative dog or an inquisitive cat, pets can be notorious for keeping us up. The best way to get your animals onto the same sleep pattern as you is to keep them active in the day. So take your dog for a walk in the evening and dig the pet mice out so your cat can have a mad half an hour just before bed.
Try and find ways to challenge your pets intellectually and physically in the day so that they don't just spend their days asleep, ready to play with you at night. You could try putting their food in a toy that dispenses food as your dog or cat plays with it.
Providing you've kept them busy and well fed, it's best to just ignore nudges from wet noses in the middle of the night. If you give in, it's likely they'll think you're happy to be woken up whenever they want a quick cuddle.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.