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Sometimes it's really difficult to get enough sleep. Be it the kids causing noise, traffic outside keeping you awake or just that you can't sleep because you have things on your mind. These issues are constantly preventing us from getting enough shut eye.

Having a few sleepless nights isn't too much of a problem. The problem comes when you have too little sleep over longer periods. Just like when you slowly gain weight, you hardly notice the changes but sure enough, over time, you are becoming more bad tempered or feel a little under the weather, you start to develop dark circles under your eyes, your concentration diminishes and sometimes you feel like everything is just too much.

Most people need between 7 and 8 hours sleep a night. Some people say they need much less but I tend to find those are the people who can battle through without enough sleep and keep on going, even though they would definitely be better with more sleep.

If you have been having too little sleep for a long time, just a few extra nights good sleeps isn't really going to do that much. You need to repay that sleep debt over time. Here are some handy ways to help you:

  1. Breathing – When you're stressed or anxious you will find that you start to shallow breathe a lot, probably unconsciously. This is will usually be combined with an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate, which are not ideal conditions for trying to sleep. When you next go to bed, try this with your eyes closed lying on your back in bed.

    - Breathe in very deeply starting by filling your stomach with air until it is full, then your chest. This should be slow and take around 5-6 seconds

    - Hold your breath for 6 seconds, concentrate on relaxing all your muscles, from your face all the way down through your body

    - Slowly release the air slowly for a count of about 8 seconds until you have removed all the air from your lungs and relax

    Repeat this process up to 10 times in a row and see how you feel or even see if you have fallen asleep...

  1. Food & drink – Ideally we shouldn't be consuming sugary, caffeine products up to 4 hours before bed. That includes fruits, so if you are having a bed time snack of anything that contains sugar the chances are that it's working against you when you want to sleep.
  1. Environment – A good sleep inducing environment means a low level of stimulation. Checking Facebook, using our laptop, emailing, etc are all high on the stimulation list so if you are doing that as you want to get to sleep that's not going to help. In addition, any kind of bright light like watching TV will also not help. The ideal situation is to have dim lights on some time before you go to bed and turn off the TV, maybe do some reading or something less stimulating.

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