28 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: I’m unable to sleep at night

I see so many stressed out and tired clients suffering from the same problem

Russell Hemmings.
12 Feb 2016 | 12:00 am

Over the past three months, I’ve spent practically half of every night wide awake. When I do drop off, I sleep so lightly that I wake up feeling exhausted. This is having a major impact on my ability to function at work and people are starting to notice. Help!

I see so many stressed out and tired clients suffering from the same problem. It could be because of our hectic lives – our brains work overtime in the day, then find it hard to shut down at night. Poor sleep patterns can seriously impair your functioning and affect your physical and mental well-being.

You mention this started three months ago. Think back and try to pinpoint what was going on in your life then to find the trigger. Were you anxious about something? We may not consciously admit so, but interrupted sleep often suggests that your subconscious feels differently.

Understanding what is at the heart of your problem will give you some control, and you can start to deal with the underlying issue. You may need help, but it will be worth it.

In the meantime, follow these tips for a clean sleep routine. First, when you’re exhausted, it’s tempting to go to bed early. But this may disrupt your natural sleep pattern further, so stick to a specific bedtime. Set your alarm to wake up at a specific time, regardless of how tired you feel. This will help reset your system.

Many people surf the internet or watch TV right up to the point they want to sleep, but the light from electronic devices can overstimulate the brain to do exactly the opposite. So turn off all devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and not too hot or cold. It should be a tranquil space you should only use it as such.

Carefully monitor your lifestyle and diet. Lack of exercise, too much caffeine, eating late at night or eating unhealthy, and carb-heavy foods can all take their toll.

Exercising daily can help relieve your anxiety as well as break the cycle of worry about whether you’ll sleep or not.

Understand what is keeping you awake and make small changes to alleviate stress. Hopefully you’ll get good sleep.

Got a problem?

Email your queries to

Russell Hemmings.

Russell Hemmings

Life coach, and clinical and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist. More info: / 04 4273627 / 055 2867275.