Everyone has experienced a sleepless night or two, and we all know it’s not fun! You know how debilitating it can be if you suffer from chronic sleep issues.
Every living thing needs restorative rest. When we don’t get proper sleep, it can affect physical and mental health, work, and relationships...let’s put it this way: it can affect just about every aspect of your life.
Think about it: not only will sleep deprivation put you at a greater risk for health issues, but your brain can’t function at its optimal level, which can cause personality changes, compromise reflexes, make driving or operating machinery dangerous, and even cause social problems.
Learning how to deal with insomnia can be challenging. However, there are ways to improve your sleep. If you have persistent insomnia, make sure to talk to a healthcare professional. Here are some ways to help you treat insomnia without drugs:
Establish a bedtime. When your sleep schedule is consistent, it helps to regulate your internal clock. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Don’t change this routine on the weekends. The more consistent you can be with your sleep times, the more you will train your body to get restful sleep and help you learn how to deal with insomnia.
Your bedroom should be a place that invites rest. A comfortable mattress and pillows are very important. The room should be quiet, dark, and set to a cool temperature. Televisions, computers, laptops, etc should be kept outside the bedroom. Lined, blackout curtains can reduce light, provide insulation from cold and noise, and help keep the room at a proper sleeping temperature.
Limit your exposure to the blue light emitted by your devices. Screen time can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle. At least one hour before your bedtime put your devices away. Charge them outside of your bedroom. This will not only limit interruptions by texts and emails but also help you avoid the temptation to play one last game or do some online shopping.
Avoid any stimulant before bedtime. Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated beverages in the few hours before bedtime. Nicotine is also a stimulant, which is another great reason to quit smoking.
Alcohol should also be avoided at night. While you may feel relaxed when you first drink a glass of wine, it could interrupt your sleep.
While it’s not a good idea to go to bed hungry, eating a heavy meal before bed can cause a sleepless night. Another no-no in the hours leading up to bedtime is spicy foods. They cannot only keep you from falling asleep but also disrupt your sleep cycle and wake you up in the middle of the night.
Regular exercise is a great way to promote better sleep. If you can get in 30 minutes of activity a day, you will notice that your sleep patterns will improve. However, save the intense workouts for the daytime. Overexerting yourself close to bedtime can cause insomnia.
Try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises or meditation to get you into a better frame of mind and help you relax. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques will also help calm your mind and help your body get ready for restorative rest.
Tension leads to insomnia. If your mind is in overdrive, your body can’t get the rest it needs. If your anxiety level needs to be lowered, a peg or two (or more!) Find healthy ways to manage stress. Mindfulness practices, counseling, mindfulness, or engaging in a hobby can all help you in a peaceful state of mind.
Consider seeking a therapist trained in CBT-I. This therapy focuses on addressing exactly what is causing sleep issues. It has been found to be a highly effective therapeutic approach for treating insomnia.
You might think that a nap would help put your body and mind at ease, but an evening nap will make you less tired when it’s time to go to sleep. If you need to nap, keep it to about 25 minutes and catch those zzzs during the day and not too close to bedtime.
By writing down your sleep habits, you can use this information to figure out what is causing your insomnia. Also, keeping a sleep journal is especially handy when talking to your doctor.
If you have tried the above strategies and you don’t see an end in sight for your sleepless nights, it’s time to consult a healthcare professional. Your doctor can identify what’s causing your insomnia and show you how to deal with insomnia through medication or therapy.
Remember that everyone is different, and it may take time to learn how to deal with insomnia. Find the strategies that work best for you. Be consistent in your sleep strategies and be patient. You can get the rest you need and improve your health and quality of life.
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Linda Guerrera is the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You. As an award-winning media professional, she has spent her entire career as on on-air radio personality, program director, voice-over artist ...
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