Here on this blog, we frequently share remedies and tips for treating insomnia: natural teas, relaxing beverages… Making these helpful elements a part of your routine can help you get a deep, restorative night’s sleep.
However, you should also keep another effective approach in mind: psychological techniques. If you are unable to sleep normally, it may be because of small cognitive and behavioral mistakes that you are making before going to bed.
Do you hit the sack with a ton of worries on your mind? What do you tend to think about or do during the two hours before bedtime?
We are sure that this information will be very helpful for you. Ready to check out our tips?
Mistakes we tend to make before going to bed
You might be surprised to find out that insomnia appears in the DSM-IV, which is the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” They refer to insomnia as finding it hard to get a normal and restorative night’s sleep which, over time, if it becomes chronic, can lead to serious problems.
Would you like to know more about those potential problems? You’ve probably heard of some of them. We’re talking about anxiety, finding it hard to concentrate, bad mood, and even depression.
So, you definitely need to know that insomnia is a serious problem that you should know how to treat. In the following article, we’ll explain which mistakes people tend to make before bedtime, especially the ones that keep them from sleeping well.
- Going to bed thinking “I need to fall asleep, I have to fall asleep because I have to get up early in the morning.” You need to be aware of the fact that sleep is not a voluntary function. It is not a switch that you can turn on or off whenever you want. You should also consider the fact that, if you pressure yourself to sleep, you will only become more anxious, which will lead you into a cycle that will keep you awake for at least an hour or two more.
- Have you ever heard of “sleep hygiene”? In order to achieve a deep and restorative type of sleep, the body and brain need a series of automatic cues that help you fall asleep. If you have a different routine every day and end up going to bed at a different time, it will be very hard for you to get rid of your insomnia.
- If you want to get a good night’s sleep, you should first try to achieve “physical deactivation.” In other words, you should take a hot shower or drink a cup of tea. However, after completing your “physical deactivation,” you also need to perform “mental deactivation.” You should set your worries, problems and future projects aside so that you can rest in peace.
Psychological techniques to treat insomnia
As we mentioned before, your body will not fall asleep just because you want it to. Your body needs a series of routines to get used to so that it can carry out all of its functions.
Getting up at the same time every morning, having lunch and dinner at the same time every day, and going to bed at the same time every night are simple strategies that will definitely help you fall asleep more easily.
Take a look at a few of the best cues that you can follow in the last few hours of the day to get a better night’s rest.
- Having dinner two hours before going to bed.
- After dinner, turning off your cell phone and computer. This type of screen stimulates the mind and leads to insomnia.
- Going on a light 15-minute walk, but not enough to make you feel tired. It’s a good chance to rest your mind.
- Taking a hot bath.
- Putting “physical and mental deactivation” into practice (we’ll explain how in the following sections).
- If you do the same thing every day, your body will end up conditioning itself to fall asleep when you go to bed.
2. Stimuli control
You need to be very careful when it comes to your surroundings at bedtime. Take a look at the factors you should keep in mind:
- The temperature in your room should be between 17º and 20º Celsius. A cool room is better for falling into a deep sleep.
- There should be a limited amount of noise, and you also need to make sure there are no foul odors that you bother you while you try to fall asleep. You can try adding a bit of lavender fragrance, which is great for relaxing.
- Your bed should have a mattress that supports your spine, and your pillow should allow you to keep your head and neck straight.
- On a side note, the Sleep Center at the University of Berkley in the U.S. indicated that top portion of your bed should be pointed north, whereas your feet should point south. Why? So that you can be in harmony with the Earth’s axes.
3. Physical and mental deactivation
After going for a 15-minute walk and taking a nice, hot shower, your body will surely start to relax. This is the moment when you should go to your bed, lie down and do a few breathing exercise.
The purpose of these exercises is to regulate the rhythm of your heart and get rid of any muscular tension so that you can get a better night’s rest.
- Put your hands on your stomach and take a deep breath (you should see your stomach expand. Hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then breath out. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Great, you are done with your physical deactivation. Now, it’s time for your mental, or cognitive, deactivation.
- Try to be conscious of what’s on your mind right now. Are you worried? Stressed? Are you thinking about what you have to do tomorrow? Once you have identified what you’re thinking about, get rid of it. Let it go. It’s not time to think about that. That’s not what’s important right now.
- Think of a calm and relaxing place: a forest, a beach… You feel good in this place, you’re calm and you’re walking around very peacefully. You feel good.
- While you perform these visualizations as part of your cognitive deactivation routine, you can try putting on a bit of relaxing music or “white noise.” This tends to be very relaxing for a lot of people. You can always try different sounds or types of music until you figure out which one works best for you.
Put these tips for treating insomnia into practice today. You’ll be amazed at the results!