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Sleep Encounters

Most of us encounter sleep problems from time to time while others have constant problems sleeping. In UIO’s latest podcast On Sleep, guest Dr Nerina Ramlakhan gives three of the most common problems that people encounter with sleep. Also, she offers lots of tips on how to manage the problems.

First, there is sleep initiation, having a problem getting to sleep. This one, I am all too familiar with, particularly when I am wound up about something.  When I was a teen girl, however, it was more or less anticipation of something–whether dreadful or exciting –that kept me up at night. So often I would roll up at school, feeling a bit sleepy, a bit unwell.  In hindsight, I can now explain some of the niggles that I encountered over the years.

Make no mistake about it, I am not saying that sleep replaces medicine but as Dr Ramlakhan points out, we feel so much better when we have had good sleep, both mentally and physically. Not to mention the impact that sleep has on our confidence. It‘s a booster.

Next, there is sleep maintenance, waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake.  Argh!  I have experienced this one, too, probably equally as much as not being able to get off to sleep.

When I was writing novels, in particular, I would often collapse into a deep sleep at the beginning of the night, my brain so loaded with information, and surprise, surprise, after unloading in dreams and so on for a few hours, I would wake up abruptly.

One night I remember, bolting up to a sitting position and staring into space and repeating to myself, why do ghosts sit in chairs in the middle of the night and stare at us, and then there was the time when I was convinced that a conclave of dead writers, Shakespeare included, were trying to tear my door down.  Okay, so most people don’t have such disruption at night, but you get my point.

No wonder Dr. Ramlakhan stresses the importance of winding down such activity long before going to bed and reading something (writing in my case) nice and easy, like a feel good childhood book. The point is not to take all of our troubles, excitement, etc… to bed.

Finally, there is sleeping too much, otherwise known as hypersomnia. Occasionally, I sleep too much when travelling through time zones but according to Dr Ramlakhan, jet lag is not necessarily associated with hypersomnia. The latter is when someone needs to sleep a lot all the time.

All too often, I encounter parents who worry about how much their teenagers sleep. Not to worry, it is true that teenagers need more sleep than adults because of the growth and development they are encountering. It’s sort of an aid to getting it all integrated. But they can overdo it, putting a damper on health altogether, since sleeping too much is not good sleep either.

So whatever sleep issues you find yourself in, the key is to develop good sleep habits, ranging from what you eat, when you eat, how often you nap, when and for how long, and what you take to bed with you so to speak, including your device(s) or not,  and how you prepare your environment for sleep. Nothing wrong with creating a cosy, comfy room that smells good, too.

No wonder I’ve been off to a good slumber here lately. I have left the dead poets and writers out of my bedroom and the ghosts, too. For more tips on how to get your slumber, listen to UIO: On Sleep on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.