We’ve all suffered from sleeplessness at one point or another in our life; you toss and turn, hoping to reach that comfortable spot that will let you rest well, but wake up still feeling tired and achy. So what options do you have when you don’t want to turn to over-the-counter sleep aides to get that well-rested and refreshed feeling in the morning? This article will help you explore some simple tips to help you combat sleeplessness with a healthy sleep cycle and habits.
Changes in your typical sleep routine can have serious consequences on your everyday life and prevent you from reaching the recommended REM cycle. Sleeplessness can be caused by many factors, such as stress, anxiety, hunger and emotional pressure. When your sleep cycle is interrupted, sleeplessness becomes a vicious cycle that takes a toll on your mind, beyond its already present stressors. When the sun rises after a night of sleeplessnes, your body and mind do not feel well rested at all.
Why is insomnia a danger?
Your body suffers when you don’t get enough sleep. If you’re up in the middle of the night and unable to fall back asleep, your body’s complex systems begin to break down from lack of rest. Your immune system is hit the hardest by insomnia. Lack of sleep can also accelerate the development of tumors, has been linked to pre-diabetic symptoms, significantly impair your nutrition (including leading to obesity), affect your memory and concentration, slow your mental and physical development and affect your decision making and ability to complete tasks.
The body’s production of melatonin, a naturally produced hormone, is severely diminished in those suffering from insomnia. The inability to sleep can also have other detrimental effects on your physical well being including increasing stress and contributing to cardiovascular diseases, stomach ulcers, constipation and depression.
Some tips to help you rest well
If you’ve gotten through your day feeling tired and lacking energy, and want a truly good night’s sleep, you have some options. Below you’ll find a few recommendations to help you combat sleeplessness:
Step away from your worries
If you’ve left an item on your “to-do” list, didn’t resolve a conflict with your significant other, or have those bills that need payment on your mind, you’ll find it hard to sleep. Whether it’s concerns about the mortgage or the wedding plans, if you are able to leave your worries at your bedroom door you’ll find you get a much more deep and restful sleep. If you go to bed worrying about problems you’re unable to solve at the moment, then you’ll only increase the amount of mental stress that lack of sleep has already caused. If overthinking problems has you missing out on sleep, then you should try visualization; imagine yourself on a beach at sunset, a peaceful river or forest or your favorite relaxation spot. Try sound recordings to put you in a relaxed mood and help set the scene that lets you drift off to sleep.
If you’re thinking you’ll fill all those empty hours waiting to fall asleep by making plans, think again. Set aside a different time to write your shopping list or envision life after marriage. Just like focusing on your troubles, planning requires mental focus that drains you not only of sleep but of energy as well. Focus instead on sleep and ease yourself into a relaxed and stress-free mental space that will allow your mind and body to rest.
Take a walk
Get up and take a walk or a hot bath to fully relax. If reading a book typically helps make you sleepy, give it a try, but keep in mind that when your body is in a sleeping posture it makes it easier for you to let go and give into sleep. You’ll soon find yourself nodding off despite having your favorite author at your fingertips. It’s also recommended to engage in repetitive activities for no longer than half an hour. Keep the lights on low and focus on the activity to create a sense of ease and relaxation.
Put away the electronics
Your cellphone, television, iPad and tablets are distractions that are keeping you awake rather than making you productive. Studies have found that the ambient light produced by these electronic devices can trick your mind into thinking it’s still daylight. We recommend you set aside everything that reminds you of tasks at work or daily activities that are associated with mental stress. That means turning off your laptop and putting away those video games.
Watch what you drink
Some people say that drinking a cup of tea is relaxing or even coffee before bed, to help you sleep. However, both drinks contain sugars and caffeine that will only make the problem worse. Both these elements, and many others, are actually stimulants that while at first may produce a tranquilizing effect, will soon leave you crashing. We recommend you enjoy your drink of choice only lightly in the late evening.
Avoid sleep deprivers
There are a few extra steps you can take to avoid interrupting those precious hours of sleep each night. If you find that you are able to fall asleep but are waking repeatedly in the middle of the night, you might have to make a few adjustments to your sleep environment to ensure you are able to stay asleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is very dark or make use of eye masks.
- Keep your bedroom temperature at 21 degrees Celsius throughout the year.
- Make sure no disruptive electromagnetic waves are present in your room (these are caused by electronics left plugged in or charging).
- Place your alarm and cellphone away from your bed.
- Use an alarm that produces a pleasant and not overly obtrusive or startling alarm sound.
- Use your bed only for sleep; that means no working or eating in your bedroom.
- Try to have a quiet bedroom away from your spouse, children or pets.
- Set an early bedtime hour and make it a routine to sleep at that hour.
- Have a firm bedtime hour.
- Set a bedtime routine (brush your teeth, set out tomorrow’s outfit, clean up your laundry).
- Avoid drinking liquids at least two hours before your bedtime hour.
- Use the restroom just a few minutes before going to bed to avoid having to get up in the middle of the night.
- Add fruit or a protein rich snack three hours before going to sleep.
- Avoid foods that have processed sugars, fats or cereals.
- Have a warm bath or soak before you slip into bed.
- Use socks to help stabilize your body temperature .
- Make sure your work day ends at least two hours before your scheduled sleep cycle.
- An hour before sleep, turn off the television and other electronics.
- Play music that relaxes you or helps create a calm environment as you drift off to sleep.
- Read an uplifting or self-help book before going to bed to help foster a sense of peace.
- Remove alcohol and coffee from your diet.
You’ll find that when you begin to implement these simple changes in your nightly routine, your sleep cycle will return to normal. You’ll wake up feeling rested and ready to start your day.