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Mind » Sleep

How To Evict Your Sleep Thieves Once And For All

You have tried meditation, warm milk and hot baths, but your muscles remain tightly wound, ready for action, and bedtime is increasingly difficult.
Aware that your sleep’s quality is suffering, you examine your job and lifestyle, finding no known insomnia triggers.

Before turning to sleep medications, consider another possibility; thieves might be hiding in your bedroom! These thieves are details, harmless during daylight hours, but destructive once your eyes close. Since these thieves operate at the physical level, you have seen and touched them every morning and night, but haven’t connected them to your insomnia… before now.

Change The Atmosphere And Change Your World

  • Some people are not bothered by the television in their bedroom. In fact, some enjoy dozing with the news on because it triggers interesting dreams. Moving the television to a new spot, however, outside of the bedroom, is a good idea, as screens keep you awake, no matter the device. Even if you do nod off to the TV, in the end, it is likely causing a disrupted sleep cycle, so move it out of your bedroom!
  • Your bedroom might also be too hot or too cold, waking you several times at night. The best way to discover if your bedroom’s temperature changes after you fall asleep is to put a thermometer in your bedroom and record the temperature each night at bedtime. If you wake during the night and cannot go back to sleep or find yourself adjusting your covers, check your thermometer and record that temperature so see the fluctuations. It may seem like a lot of work, but the time taken to write two numbers is not wasted if all you need to do to ensure a good’s sleep is to adjust your thermostat!
  • Another hidden sleep thief just might be your sleepwear. While flannel is cozy during the winter, it may make shifting your position in your sleep so difficult that you actually wake up to turn over. Try wearing a smooth fabric that slides against your sheets and see if that helps your Z’s.
  • You may also sleep better on regular, texture free, cotton sheets. Like flannel sleepwear, the texture of flannel sheets might make turning over difficult, especially if your jammies are creating a flannel-on-flannel environment. Switch to smoother sheets to make turning over easier. And hey, your sheets do not have to match your pillowcases, so find pillowcases that feel good against your cheeks and buy pillows to slip into them that support your head and neck.
  • Finally, air might be the culprit. Many people cannot sleep in a room with poor air circulation. You might sleep better with your windows slightly open during late spring and early summer. This might be impractical in late fall and winter, so buy a ceiling fan. The slight breeze is soothing, and using the fan during the winter moves warm air away from the ceiling, heating the room more efficiently anyway.

Sleeping Bodies Need Support

A properly supported body relaxes more completely than one that is not. This sounds like common sense, but most sleepers only use pillows to support their heads. Side and back sleepers, using only head support, leave their lower backs and hips woefully under supported.

Body pillows are over-sized, extending from your shoulders to your calves. While lying on your side in a semi-fetal position, tuck your body pillow between your knees, draping your outside arm (the arm not against the mattress) over the pillow. Doing so eases the stress placed on the hips and shoulders unsupported by the mattress.

Tuck a pillow under your knees while sleeping on your back to ease lower back strain, as well.

Sleep Guidelines Might Not Address Your Body’s Needs

Parents, schools and doctors teach that we need about eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night depending on age, and you might worry about not meeting that standard. You can relinquish some of that concern if your parents and/or siblings exhibit sleep patterns similar to yours.

Pin ItGuidelines are generalities, not individual standards, and your family’s genetic tendencies can trump the eight-hours-of-uninterrupted-sleep model. If you are not sure of your needs, start a sleep diary, recording the time you go to sleep, how well you sleep, how you feel when you wake up, and the ease or difficulty experienced each day.

The physical causes of insomnia are serious and need attention. Hunt for, then evict your sleep thieves and regain your restorative sleep.

Table Of Contents

Katherine Hurst
By Catherine Gordon
Catherine Gordon (PhD) has a background teaching and researching analytic philosophy. She is also a practising therapist who works with individuals and couples on issues relating to relationship difficulties, emotional well-being and self-improvement.

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