The occasional missed night's sleep may make you feel tired the next day, but it won't harm your health. However, if you frequently miss sleep this can lead to:

* Prolonged bouts of tiredness
* Difficulties in concentrating and lack of productivity in daily tasks
* Irritability or anxiety
* Feelings of depression and/or frustration
* Poor judgement

The amount of sleep needed varies for different individuals, but on average adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep per night

If you are frequently not sleeping, this may be due to:

- Practical causes, e.g the bedroom being too noisy or the bed being uncomfortable
- Psychological or emotional causes, e.g. worrying about something or feeling low
- Physical or physiological causes, e.g. illness, physical pain or the response of your body to your diet or medication.

Here are some simple Do's and Don'ts to help if you have difficulty sleeping:


* Go to bed at regular times and get up at regular times
* Exercise moderately 4-5 hours before bedtime if possible (but not just before sleeping)
* Establish a regular, relaxing routine just before you go to bed - for example, by using a simple relaxation exercise
* Sleep on a bed which is comfortable
* Ensure as far as possible that your bedroom is not too hot or too cold or too noisy - for some people it can help to have relaxing music playing in the background when they fall asleep.


- Don't drink anything with caffeine in it after about mid afternoon. Caffeine is a stimulant drug which can keep you awake and can stay in your body for several hours after your last drink of tea or coffee
- Don't eat a lot shortly before you go to bed
- Don't drink a lot of alcohol - it may help you to fall asleep initially, but you will probably wake up later
- Try not to make up for lost sleep the next day or on the weekend if you have had a poor sleeping pattern or episode. This can make it harder to get to sleep the next night.

If you find that you are worrying about something and you are still unable to get to sleep, or you wake up later and you can't get back to sleep, then you may find it helpful to get out of bed, go to another room and try the following:

1. Ask yourself what the likelihood is of the thing you are worrying about happening? If you give it a very high percentage, then ask yourself what percentage other people you trust might give to the event happening. You can write down these estimates and who might make them. You don't need to decide which is correct.

2. Then ask yourself what is the worst that could happen? Write down the most positive response that you could have to the event if it did happen.

3. Next write down one or two simple things you can do to reduce the likelihood of the event happening, even if in only a small way. If you judge that there is nothing that you can do to reduce the likelihood of the event occurring, then acknowledge that the event may be beyond your control.

4. Finally, write down in a short statement of 1-4 sentences a summary of what you have learned from steps 1-3 above.

Once you have completed the exercise, try not to dwell on it but spend 10-20 minutes (still in another room) on a distracting and relaxing activity such as watching television, listening to the radio or reading. Then return to bed. If helpful, practise a short relaxation technique before you get back into bed, such as a breathing exercise, taking slow, measured breaths and counting them down from 30 or 40.

Author's Bio: 

David Bonham-Carter, MA, DipSW, CPE is an international life coach and stress consultant with over 15 years experience in the field of personal change management who has been featured on BBC radio giving expert life coaching advice.

Life Coach London, Bristol, UK and Worldwide.

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