I usually go 2-3 days without sleeping and then I only sleep a couple of hours and then the cycle repeats. I know this isn’t healthy but what can I do?
It’s common for everyone to have trouble falling asleep and for some, staying asleep every once in a while, but if you are having sleep problems on a regular basis, you should talk with your health care provider. The most common cause of Insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep) is stress, and not getting enough sleep can be a serious problem. If you’re not sleeping well, you are likely feeling very tired and run down. You may also have trouble staying awake at school, and your grades may also be suffering. Lack of sleep slows down your reaction time for example, while driving, playing sports, and doing other activities that require concentration, putting you at risk for accidents.
Teens actually need about 9 hours of sleep a night. Younger children need more, (10-11 hours a night) and adults need slightly less (7-9 hours each night). Here are some tips to help you get a good night’s sleep. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, make an appointment with your health care provider.
- No caffeine after 3pm: Avoid beverages with caffeine (soda, tea, energy drinks, etc.) especially after 3pm.
- Don’t go to bed hungry: Have your evening meal at least 3 hrs. before going to sleep. It’s fine to have a small bedtime snack such as a glass of milk and a few crackers but don’t have a big meal.
- Have a nightly routine before bed: Plan on “winding down” before you go to sleep. Begin relaxing about 1 hour before you go to bed. Try doing a quiet activity such as listening to calming music, reading a book or meditating.
- Turn off the TV and ALL electronics including video games, tablets, laptops, etc. 1 hour before sleep, and keep them out of the bedroom.
- Turn off your cell phone and all notifications (new email and text alerts) or even better, leave your phone outside your room while you sleep. Studies have shown that a part of your brain continues to respond to certain lights and sounds even while you’re still asleep.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and cool. If you can’t control the noise, try wearing earplugs or using a fan to block out other sounds.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Try reading a book or meditating or drain your brain by writing a list of what you need to do the next day.
- Don’t nap unless you feel sick: you’ll have a better night’s sleep.
- Don’t smoke, or quit if you do. Nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana can all keep you awake. Talk to your health care provider if you need help with substance use.
- Most importantly, wake up at the same time every day (or within 1 hour of your usual wake up time) EVEN on the weekends. A regular wake up time promotes sleep hygiene and prevents sleep problems.
- Reduce exposure to bright light in the last three hours of the day before going to sleep.