We’ve all had it before – restless nights, tossing and turning, and sleeplessness. Insomnia can be caused by several different factors including medical conditions, unhealthy sleeping habits, psychological issues, and other disruptions in the sleeping environment.
Regardless of what causes it, this sleeping disorder affects many people out there. When left untreated, insomnia can start to really take a toll on your body and cause further health concerns. Because there is no way to treat insomnia without understanding the cause, it is important to identify this factor first and foremost. Once identified, the proper treatment can be used to beat off those unwanted hours of restlessness. Here are some tips to help prevent insomnia:
How To Minimize Insomnia
- Some sort of physical activity daily (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lot) will use up energy that may otherwise keep you up at night. It’s important to exercise not only for your health, but also to help you get a better nights rest. Your body will become tired, making it easier to fall asleep at night. By being active, you can slowly teach your body that daytime is for physical activity, while nighttime is for restoration.
Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule
- Our bodies are naturally programmed to follow a routine, so when you’re going to bed some nights at 10pm, some nights at 3am, and some nights at midnight, your body will have a harder time adjusting. Our internal clocks can only be trained when we maintain a regular sleep schedule. Even on the weekends when you’ve had a late night, you should still try to wake up around the same time you do on the weekdays so that you don’t throw off your internal clock too much.
Eat Foods That Naturally Promote Sleep
- Did you know that many different foods that we consume can help promote sleep? We put together a guide of these foods that you can read here!
Use Relaxation Techniques
- Meditation is an excellent relaxation technique that is not only good for treating insomnia, but also for all over well-being. Try meditating, listening to calming music, and closing your eyes. Relaxation techniques can be a great way to rewind at the end of the day, so you don’t go to bed with a million thoughts clouding your mind. You want to be sure that for a restful sleep, your mind is clear and you only focus on sleep.
Put Away the Screens
- It might be your time to check social media updates, watch your favorite show on Netflix, or tune into the news, but trust us – put away the technology! Bright lights on screens can disrupt your body’s natural release of the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin helps us maintain and regulate our sleep, because it makes us tired at the end of the day. By messing with this natural hormone, our sleep schedules could fluctuate, making it harder to fall asleep during bedtime.
Make Your Sleeping Space Tranquil and Quiet
- Light a pleasant-smelling candle with a warm glow, keep the lights dimmed, or even put extra soft pillows on your bed. No matter what it is, make sure your bedroom and sleeping space are relaxing and inviting to come to. You want to look forward to coming to bed every night, not dreading it.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake After a Certain Time
- Depending on each individual, our bodies can be very sensitive to caffeine and its effects. This can be a huge one for a lot of people because they don’t realize the immense effects caffeine can have on lack of sleep. By cutting out caffeine after a certain time each day, you can allow your body to start to feel the effects of being tired and needing rest. Treat your mornings as “caffeine time”, and then limit yourself to tea, or decaf coffee in the later afternoon/evening.
Find A White Noise Generator
- If you find yourself tossing and turning because your mind is racing, the best thing you can do is distract yourself with soft noises. You can find a white noise device at a local department store – it’s also useful if you’re sensitive to noise and start to fixate on random noises as you’re trying to fall asleep.
Write It Down
- One of the worst things that can happen during a bout of insomnia is when you start to think about what’s on your mind and then your thoughts start to spiral out of control. When this happens next, take out a journal and either write down what’s on your mind, or create a “to do” list for the following day if that is what’s on your mind. Getting it out on paper will help you eliminate it from your thoughts.
Experiment With Supplements (With The Supervision Of Your Physician)
There are certain herbs and plants that can help you feel a bit more sleepy at night if you’re having troubles hitting the sheets. One herb is valerian root. This root acts as a sedative that has been used for centuries. Some studies have also shown that valerian root helps improve the quality of sleep, so that you aren’t waking up throughout the night. Some studies have also found that it calms anxiety since it helps increase the amount of GABA in our brain (which is associated with helping us chill out).
Another supplement that is more commonly known and used to help promote sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is already produced in our body but may decrease as we age, and is safe to take in small doses when needed. Melatonin is a hormone that we produce to regulate our internal clock, and it can also be found in foods – especially cherry juice!
So next time you feel as if you’ll be wide awake throughout the night, try using one of these tips to kick that insomnia to the curb. Or, if all else fails, you can always use these tips to appear well rested if insomnia got the best of you.
Contributing author: Lauren Cumbo