Saturday, 31 March 2012

Need help with sleeping problems?

Don't depend on counting sheep for  good sleep

It is estimated that between 33 - 50% of adults in the UK suffer from insomnia (i.e. problems with not sleeping properly) which strikes me as being an incredible percentage - it's so high.  The nearest I got to that was a few years back when I was frequently really stressed at work.

At that time, I would still fall asleep as usual but I would wake up half way through the night, perhaps around 3 or 4am.  Instantly I would have something about work on my mind and it wasn't always rational.  Sometimes I would be rehearsing a conversation I was planning to have with someone in the office - I would mentally plan for every possible direction the conversation would take.  By the time I had done that and probably worried about a few other things, it was then getting light and approaching our normal waking-up time and the routine that follows.

You guessed the solution?  Of course - RUNNING!

But why?  Whenever I run, I always sleep especially well but I used to think this was because I was so physically tired and the need for rest and repair would keep me asleep through the whole night.  I used to think that was true but it's only part of the explanation.  The other side is the mental aspect.  I think (from my lay point of view) sleep disorders can occur when our physical and mental sleep needs are different.  Sometimes when I sleep, I'm sleeping so deeply it's as if I know I'm sleeping deeply - I can almost feel my body fixing itself - this is a wonderful feeling!

Running gives me the opportunity to work through those things in a more realistic way in being awake.  You may have read previous blog posts about running helping to solve problems, generate ideas and generally thinking things through.  I still maintain that, for me, is still very true.  So this means that when I go to bed, having had a run during the day, I am both mentally relaxed (having worked through the thing I need to resolve) and physically very tired and in need of some repairs to my muscles, joints, tendons etc.  It seems to work well.

Of course, certain events can take place in life when perhaps extra "help" is needed.  That is when seeing your Doctor may be a helpful thing to do and where sleeping pills might be appropriate in seeing someone through a difficult period in life - in our lifetime there will always be scope for this (i.e. unexpected bereavements) and there is no way I would want to diminish the impact this can have for anyone.  I'm sure if you're in that position, your Doctor would be very understanding and yet would seek to avoid any kind of dependence on tranquillisers .

You might be wondering how far or how long I need to run in order to achieve the best kind of deep sleep?  That's easy to answer: about 1 hour.

If you're reading this an you are not a runner but do have things on your mind, why not consider taking up running?  There are many other benefits.   Especially so if you take prescription sleeping tablets, why not talk this over with your Doctor?  If you have faith - and I'm a Christian who believes very much in the power of prayer - the middle of the night can also be a time for prayer.  Just offer all of your problems and worries up, seek guidance and that real peace.

Does that help?


  1. I am suffering from sleepiness from last 3 months as I am working in night shift, so very less chances of sleeping in day. I take a medication for sleep like Provigil. What do you think about it.

  2. Dear Williamsmarkseo

    I am not a Doctor and as I know nothing about you, I hope you understand it is hard for me to give you any advice.

    However, a few thoughts for you to consider...

    Working a night shift might be okay for someone young and just for the short term. I don't think we are made to work like that. It is more natural to work in the day light and sleep at night. Upsetting this balance can lead to problems as you are experiencing, maybe your Doctor could advise you on this and also about any long terms problems. So, is it possible to have a different job? Your Doctor may also be able to advise you on the use of your medication.

    If you are fit enough, could you run before breakfast for one hour, or perhaps some other form of exercise? For me that means I am tired when I go to bed and I sleep well. It deals with my thoughts and my need for physical rest.