What is Insomnia?
If the word “insomnia” frightens you (like me!), you are not alone. According to a survey report highlighted in “The Guardian”, , almost 50% of Britons simply fail to get enough sleep, and it is as alarming as it is true. Before we go any further, let me describe to you what insomnia really is. National Sleep Foundation defines it is the inability to sleep, stay asleep or getting the amount of sleep needed to feel rejuvenated on waking up. There can be a long list of insomnia symptoms including difficulty falling asleep, getting up too early in the morning, frequent wakeups all night long, difficulty concentrating, daytime sleepiness and much more.
When we talk of causes of insomnia, there is no single factor that can be held responsible for inflicting this nightmare of an illness upon you. Mostly, a host of factors including medical as well as psychological issues, behavioural factors, relationship issues and scheduling issues (inappropriate bedtime routines, watching late night TV, physical hyperactivity, etc) combine together to result in insomniac conditions.
Irrespective of what causes insomnia or particular symptoms of insomnia in a person, majority of experts believe it is about mending your lifestyle for better sleep, improving on your habits and behaviour to get the best of sleeping experience. However, if you feel things are not going well for you in terms of sleeping well, we are here with “What to Do When Insomnia Hits You – 15 Tips to a Better Sleep”
1. Start monitoring things related to your sleep
You need to be observant about factors that might be affecting your sleeping, keeping track of when you sleep and how much, fatigue levels experienced throughout the day and other such symptoms. Keeping track of your daily activities like this can be helpful in various ways; for example, helping you identify what helps and what hurts your sleep the most. This information can be very helpful for your therapist or doctor in case you decide to consult one.
2. Therapy can change all this for you
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia, also referred as CBT-I, has proven to be of great relief to scores of people across the world who have used it. It is comprised of various factors including self-monitoring, cognitive strategies (for example, developing and processing positive thoughts about sleep) and working out a sleep inducing environment.
3. Following a regular bedtime routine can be very helpful
Following a strict bedtime routine and indulging in activities that you find helpful in winding you down can be really productive for coping with insomnia. It works best if you continue to follow the sleep schedule even on weekends.
4. Reserve your bed only for sleep and sex
It might sound funny initially, but it’s not! According to research, this helps your brain associate the bed with sleep, which is exactly what you need to fight off insomnia. So, make sure you keep your daily chores off the bed if you want to seek improvement in your sleep quality.
5. Find appropriate mattress
Studies identify uncomfortable bedding as one of the leading causes of poor sleep, while you can improve your prospects of a better sleep significantly with a comfortable mattress.
6. Avoid smoking
It’s quite simple to understand; the bodies of smokers are highly likely to suffer from nicotine withdrawal, thus disrupting their sleep through the night.
7. Limit caffeine intake
Sure, your taste buds love it and you can’t start your day unless you get caffeine intake in the morning, but the problem is that when you give your taste buds a caffeine treat in the eve, it might affect your sleep negatively. In fact, experts suggest taking caffeine at least 6 hours before your sleep time, so that it’s out of your system by the time you are ready to sleep.
8. Alcohol is no good, especially before bed
Resorting to booze might seem like the most appropriate way of calming down before going to bed, but it’s not. In reality, it is the other way around, according to various studies, because it disrupts your sleep cycles.
9. Aerobic activity is good, but not in the evening
Moderate aerobic activity can be really helpful for insomniacs, according to a study, but works best not close to your bedtime. In fact, experts suggest not indulging in any significant physical activity at least 3 hours to bedtime, so that your body gets ample time to wind down. Otherwise, it can harm your sleep more than benefitting it.
10. Nap rightly
Same is the case with napping, it is good, but only if reduced to 10-20 minutes a day, preferably no later than 3:00pm to 4:00pm, as this might hinder you fall asleep conveniently during night.
11. Get the sun as well
Having appropriate sunlight exposure can also be really helpful in inducing better sleep, research points out. It proves beneficial for healthy natural production of melatonin, thus helping us sleep duly at night.
12. Have a sleep-friendly diet
Foods rich in magnesium (like cashews, almonds, spinach and halibut) and vitamin B complex (green leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts) are known to be especially helpful in inducing sleep. So, make sure these foods are a part of your daily diet if you want to see improvement in your sleep. Moreover, having large meals in the night also keeps your stomach busy, which can disrupt your sleep unintentionally and unknowingly.
13. Meditation (or even other relaxation techniques)
According to research, people practicing meditation observe significant improvement in overall sleep time as well as sleep quality. In fact, relaxation techniques, whether it’s as simple as deep breathing or as advanced as progressive relaxation or yoga, they have a serious potential of benefiting your sleep.
14. Conjure sleep friendly bedroom ambiance
Well, this is really important. You have to cue your mind to lull you to sleep and bedroom ambiance plays a vital role in this. So, make sure you don’t turn on high lights at least 2 hours to your sleep time and maintain a soothing room temperature around 19 degrees Celsius. Introducing white noise machine is one great way to block unwanted sounds disturbing you when you are in your bed.
15. No screens
For many of us, this might be the toughest thing to follow; no screens when you lay down on your bed to sleep, because research has proven that “blue light” emitted by modern-day electronic devices can mess up our body’s natural sleep inducing mechanism.
Health is surely the most precious of commodities one can have and having a sound, healthy and restful sleep is vital to optimal health. Make sure you follow these simple but effective tips to a better sleep.