Insomnia is a sleep disorder that prevents a person from falling asleep and staying asleep at night. This condition can either be acute or chronic, and may also have intermittent patterns. Acute insomnia is a short-term sleep disorder that typically lasts for less than three months. On the other hand, chronic insomnia is a condition wherein a person struggles to have quality sleep for extended periods, and often has more serious symptoms and side effects.
Usually, insomnia is caused by constant and unmanaged stress, poor sleep schedule and habits, mental health disorder, physical illness, chronic pain, and heavy medications. As such, treatment of insomnia may vary from person to person. If you’re suffering from insomnia. there are many natural sleep aid options available that can help you effectively tackle this problem.
Also, there are simple steps you can do on your own to alleviate sleeplessness. Here are some suggestions you can consider:
Create A Comfortable Sleeping Environment
There are several factors to consider when it comes to creating the ideal environment conducive to sleeping. For instance, the room’s temperature, lighting, noise levels, and even the design can all influence the quality of sleep you can get every night.
Here are some suggestions you can consider to help alleviate nighttime sleeplessness:
- Use specialized pillows and beddings to boost comfort. Some specialized pillows, such as a lavender pillow, are designed to specifically counter sleeplessness by using materials that would enhance your comfort levels all night long. If you want to learn more about lavender pillows, here is a link to a video you can watch:
- Ensure proper ventilation and set the ideal temperature in the bedroom to achieve the ideal air quality for a comfortable bedtime.
- Limit light exposure by using blackout curtains and turning off any device that emits light.
- Soundproof your room to minimize noise levels.
- Wear comfortable clothing. This is especially helpful if you’re a hot sleeper or if you have skin sensitivities that can make you uncomfortable at night.
Set A Fixed Sleep Schedule
Humans are known to be creatures of habit. It’s part of human nature to be easily accustomed to specific patterns of behavioral responses, especially if given the right set of stimuli and cues. This habit formation can be applied to sleep as well. For instance, setting a fixed schedule for bedtime helps trigger a response from the body and the mind, which would induce sleepiness if the habit has been strongly established. This is why many experts recommend sticking to the same bedtime for prolonged periods to ensure that the body accustoms itself to falling asleep on the said time.
Once you’re able to cultivate a healthy sleep routine, it’ll be much easier to consistently get quality sleep. This way, you’ll fall asleep quickly and will stay in deep sleep through the night. As you continue this sleeping pattern, it won’t take long before you completely recover from insomnia, provided that you also work on other factors that contribute to this sleep disorder.
Avoid Stimulants Before Bedtime
Throughout the day, many people ingest alcohol and caffeine in many forms, which, if not monitored, may lead to excessive consumption. This can cause sleep disruption due to many reasons. For one, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are stimulants that can keep the mind and body alert for extended periods. The effects of these stimulants are known to last for up to 24 hours, which makes them affect a person’s ability to fall asleep.
Also, alcohol and coffee are both natural diuretics that can cause a person to feel the urge to urinate frequently. Also, this won’t be ideal if you want deep sleep through the night as you may have to wake up several times to use the bathroom. To avoid such scenarios, it’s best to limit your intake of these stimulants or skip them altogether until you’re able to return to a normal sleeping pattern.
Taking naps during the day may cause more harm than good in letting the body have quality rest. While napping may look like a good alternative to catch up on missed sleep if you’re not able to rest during the night, it can actually further aggravate the situation and keep you on the same cycle of sleeplessness. This is why it’s important to set and follow a regular sleep pattern wherein you’re only allowed to sleep at night and avoid taking naps altogether until such time that your sleep cycle returns to normal.
To do so, it may be helpful to train yourself to associate rest and feelings of sleepiness to darkness, a fixed bedtime schedule, and your own bedroom. This way, it’ll be easier for you to break the unhealthy sleeping pattern and get quality sleep at night for good.
Increase Physical Activity
Regular exercise not only has benefits for health and weight management, but also for promoting quality sleep. While it’s yet to be known what the direct effects are, many experts believe that the physical activities a person does contribute to regulating mood and help the mind feel at ease. Both of these factors are known to help relax the body and make falling asleep easier.
However, the best results are achieved when a rigorous physical activity is done one to two hours before bedtime to allow the body to wind down. Exercise can have a stimulant effect on the body and could keep it alert for some time, so it’s best to not workout immediately before bedtime.
Avoid Working On The Bed
If you’re used to working on your computer or mobile phone at night, it may be one of the factors contributing to a lack of quality sleep. Experts advise insomnia sufferers to limit activities in bed to only sleeping and sex. This is so that your body and mind associate the bed and the whole bedroom with a feeling of rest and relaxation, which sets the right mood for a good night’s sleep.
To help foster a calm and restful environment conducive to quality sleep, it may be helpful to remove or turn off gadgets, such as computers, mobile phones, TVs, or radios while in bed or the bedroom. Also, put away books and writing materials that can trigger alertness for both the mind and body, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Manage Stress Effectively
Uncontrolled stress levels can negatively impact one’s ability to have restful sleep. This is because stress triggers the body to produce cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that make the body hyper-alert. Due to this, it can be difficult to feel calm and rested at night no matter how much you try to fall asleep. This pattern will create a cycle of having increased stress levels and lacking sleep, which will ultimately take its toll on your overall health and wellbeing.
To counter this problem, you can consider several relaxation and stress reduction techniques to help you relax your mind and body before sleep. Here are some examples of methods you can try to help manage your stress levels effectively and help yourself prepare for bed:
Progressive muscle relaxation
To lessen feelings of anxiety or tension, it’s important to let the body physically relax. When practicing progressive muscle relaxation, you’ll need to tense some muscles as you breathe in and relax them as you breathe out. Some beginners find it useful to listen to audio recordings intended for this technique while doing so. If you’re able to constantly practice this muscle and breathing exercise for several weeks, it can help you develop muscle relaxation skills useful in making yourself calm and relaxed for bedtime. Some chronic stress sufferers find progressive muscle relaxation to be an effective way to relieve stress during the day. Overall, it might be worth trying this method if you’re looking for easy ways you can manage your stress levels.
Deep breathing techniques
Deep breathing can be useful in reducing stress, as well as calming the mind and body. This is because it slows down some bodily functions, such as your heart rate and muscle contractions, which can keep you feeling tense and anxious. When you practice deep breathing before sleep, you’re able to slow down the pace of your heart rate and breathing, thereby fostering relaxation that can help you fall asleep with ease.
One example of a deep breathing technique is the 4-7-8 method, which is widely used in yogic practice. This technique entails holding the breath and letting air out in a controlled, timed manner. The repetition of this breathing technique helps slow down the heart rate and reduce tension, allowing the body to feel calm and relaxed. This type of mindful breathing exercise is known to be useful for stress reduction and relaxation.
Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that entails visualizing calming and peaceful images or settings, like a beautiful beach or a quiet forest. The goal of this practice is to keep the mind focused on staying calm in a way that promotes harmony between the mind and body. To do this, patients can use images that they’ve created themselves or use prepared materials. As the mind can achieve a relaxed state, the body benefits from reduced anxiety and stress, as well as better relaxation, which promotes quality sleep.
There are many other ways stress can be managed in your daily life. You can do this by improving your nutrition, physical activities, and routine in a way that would allow you to take better care of your overall health and wellness.
Limit Food And Drink Intake Before Bed
Eating within less than two hours before bed is believed to be detrimental to having restful sleep. This is because as you eat, your digestive system becomes activated and keeps your body alert. To be able to calm the body in preparation for sleep, all bodily systems need to be relaxed, and this is why experts advise against eating or drinking anything before your usual bedtime. Additionally, drinking fluids before bed should be avoided as it can overwhelm the bladder and may cause you to urinate several times during the night, which will be disruptive to your sleep as well.
If you’re suffering from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or heartburn, eating and drinking right before bed can make you even more uncomfortable at night. This is why many doctors advise their patients to avoid eating meals two to three hours before bedtime. This way, your stomach isn’t triggered to produce acid and will be able to partially empty its content before you sleep. Also, those who are afflicted with GERD are usually advised to take smaller meals at night to help prevent nighttime heartburn symptoms.
Your thoughts could certainly affect how restful you’ll feel as you lay down to sleep at night. Some people, due to many reasons, fall into the habit of overthinking and being unable to clear the mind of thoughts long enough to calm them down. To counter this, experts advise patients to consider setting aside time within the day to lay out plans and review their to-do lists to avoid thinking about them before bedtime.
Some people also find journaling helpful to counter overthinking habits. This is because journaling can serve as an outlet for intrusive thoughts that would otherwise keep playing in the mind, preventing it from relaxing. As you write down things that you plan on doing or things that bother you, you’re able to release the tension in your mind, and, maybe, even come up with concrete solutions to problems. All in all, your goal is to avoid thinking about too many things while you’re trying to fall asleep.
People suffering from insomnia can largely benefit from medical consultation before trying an medications or therapy. Your physician can give you accurate information about healthy and age-related sleep patterns, which will help you set reasonable goals before you begin any treatment. This is so that you’ll be sure that you’re getting sound medical advice and treatment that’s suited to your condition.
The experience of having insomnia may be different for everyone, and it’s ideal for you to receive the support you need based on your specific requirements. Although you’ll be able to come across advices and suggestions from a myriad of sources, your doctor’s examination and recommendations will still be the most accurate for your needs.