I’ve always loved sleep (don’t we all) and never been someone who could get by on 6 hours and a strong cup of coffee (although there are far more people who think they can function on 6 hours sleep than people who actually can.) However, since having a baby, sleep has become beyond precious. As such, I’ve become very cautious about anything that might stop me from getting to sleep.

sleeping asleep struggling to sleep

If you struggle to get to sleep

Below are 6 things to consider:

  1. Hot drinks. Now, obviously having a cup of coffee in the evening is likely to cause problems, but even a relaxing cup of herbal tea might have the opposite effect to the one intended. This is because our body needs to cool down to get to sleep easily.

  2. Meat for dinner. Eating meat makes us hot (there’s a reason we talk about meat sweats), so for the same reason as above, having a lot of meat, particularly red meat, for dinner can make it harder to get to sleep. 

  3. Too much caffeine in your system. Whether it’s from a few squares of dark chocolate after dinner, or an afternoon cup of coffee, having any caffeine in your system when you’re trying to get to sleep can make it really difficult. Caffeine lasts for about 10 hours in our blood, so be mindful about when you have that last cuppa. 

  4. Staying up too late. This one is counterintuitive, but essentially we get a second wind from about 11.30pm or midnight. We effectively miss our window to get to sleep easily. Furthermore, if we regularly stay up too late we become overtired, which ironically makes it harder to sleep as our bodies compensate by pumping out cortisol.

  5. Alcohol. So often you hear people recommend a drink in the evening to unwind and sleep better, but unfortunately that’s just not true. Whilst alcohol may mean we fall asleep faster, it reduces the quality of our sleep and may mean we even wake up throughout the night.  

  6. Nasal decongestant spray. This one caught me off guard and caused three nights of almost complete insomnia, but it turns out that nasal decongestants contain a stimulant known to cause insomnia. It didn’t used to affect me, but it seems to now. 

If you find it hard to get to sleep, improving sleep hygiene can be a huge help. In the meantime, if nothing is helping, check out our blog on taking care of yourself if you’re simply not able to get enough sleep.