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Struggling to sleep?

Ever had a night where you’re tossing and turning, sleep just won’t come, you can’t get comfortable, you’re tied up in your bedding as well as in your own mind? The longer you’re awake, the more stressed out you get and your worries end up magnifying themselves ten fold in the dead of night.

You are not alone, in fact two thirds of all UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep with nearly a quarter managing no more than 5 hours a night. Staggeringly, half of all UK adults admit they don’t get the right amount of sleep. The sleep foundation suggests adults between the ages of 18 and 64 need 7 to 9 hours a night and adults over 65 need 7 to 8 hours a night. When can you honestly say you’ve had a solid 9 hour sleep, I can’t remember the last time that happened?!

But sleep is something we need to take more seriously. Because it’s an integral part of life that’s become hugely undervalued. It plays a vital role in our overall health and is paramount for repair and recovery. We need sleep like we need food and air to function at our optimal best. It helps the body heal itself, it restores chemical balance, it helps our brain forge new thought connections and helps with memory retention.

Sleep deprivation is very real and can be caused by consistently failing to get 7 hours or more sleep a night, with the consequences of this affecting your entire body. It can lead to a number of health problems from weight gain to a weakened immune system. Some of the potential effects of sleep deprivation are listed below:

  • An overall decrease in mental capability and poor concentration due to your brain being exhausted

  • A decrease in coordination and an increased risk of having accidents

  • Impatience, irritability and mood swings

  • A compromised immune system leaving you susceptible to infections, viruses and disease

  • Weight gain due to the hormones leptin and ghrelin being affected, which control both hunger and satiety

  • Fluctuating blood sugar levels, blood pressure and inflammation levels

So how can we improve our sleep and what can we do if we are awake at night?

Circadian Rhythm

Is your body clock out of kilter? Our circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a 24 hour cycle. The most important and well known circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle.

During the day, light exposure causes the master clock to send signals that generate alertness and help keep us awake and active. As night falls, the master clock initiates the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, and then keeps transmitting signals that help us stay asleep through the night.

Our circadian rhythm aligns our sleep and wakefulness with day and night to promote a stable cycle of restorative rest that enables increased daytime activity.

  • Ensure when you wake, to get out in natural light as soon as you can, which kick starts your circadian rhythm as light hits the retina in your eyes to make you feel alert for the day

  • In turn, try to turn down the lights during the evening so your body starts to associate the darkness as time to be sleepy. Turn off main lights as you watch TV and just have lamps for the last few hours of the evening and ensure complete darkness in your bedroom

  • Follow a consistent sleep schedule so try and wake up roughly the same time and go to bed roughly the same time

Controlled worrying (get a notepad & pen by the bed)

Try this method if you have any worries/thoughts in the night, it will allow your mind to get back to a calmer place for sleep. Approximately only 5% of our worries come to fruition, they are just your mind/brain being over active in a negative way, this is especially magnified in the early hours.

Catch the worry - by writing it down

Challenge it - what is causing the worry, how are you contributing to it, what are you thinking about to cause this worry to come to you, what is the trigger, why

Change it - Explore the options and rationalise, reframe it into a better more positive outcome

Look again in the morning - sometimes the worries we have in the night seem small the next day in the light of day

Get up

Don't stay in bed if you are awake for over 15 minutes, get out of bed and go through to a spare room, practice the breathing technique below and then read a paper/book for 15 minutes then go back to bed. Removing yourself from the situation and learning to be 'mindful' with breath work and reading, should help calm the head of stressful thoughts and keep you in the present moment.

Breath work

Try the 4, 7, 8 method. Doing this twice a day can heal our nervous system and help get us back into the relaxed response (rest & digest) and away from the stress response (fight, flight, freeze).

Try this when you're awake at night. In addition you can use your fingers to count the seconds which adds in something else for you to concentrate on. Stick to the numbers and be as mindful and in the moment as you can to quiet the mind:

  • Adopt a comfortable position

  • Put the tip of your tongue on the tissue behind the top two front teeth

  • Empty your lungs

  • Then breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds

  • Hold for 7 seconds

  • Breath out through the mouth for 8 seconds (strong forced breath out)

  • Repeat this 4 times in a session

Sleep Summary

Having an awareness of how important sleep is for our overall health can help us prioritise it! There are various ways in which to improve sleep consistency, sleep quality and the duration of our sleep but it’s vital to start small & try one thing at a time - what will you try tonight in order to get a better night’s sleep?

To find out more about my coaching methods click here. I can help if you are stressed out, your life feels out of balance, you have weight management issues or you would like to learn how to eat for health.

To book your FREE 15 minute consultation click here or email me at

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