8 Tips for Beating Insomnia
Published: February 2, 2016
Category: Better Living
Insomnia is a common complaint. It impacts the lives of millions of people and leads to reduced performance at work and school, relationship issues and a reduced quality of life.
If you suffer from insomnia, then you know the symptoms.
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Feeling tired upon waking
There are proven strategies to improve your odds of getting a better sleep, and having better days. Check these out and see which you are currently doing, and the ones that you should add to your routine.
Follow these guidelines and get some sleep.
1. Write down what you need to do tomorrow.
Do you lie in bed and run through in your head what needs to get done the next day?
You need to write these down. This will break the cycle of trying to solve problems in your head, or trying the commit to memory something that needs to get done.
If you remember something else that should be on the list, then don't lie there and try and remember it. Stop the cycle, get up and write it down. Write down what it is and the action that you need to take to solve it.
Write in a book instead of taking notes on your phone or laptop. The screen brightness activates your brain – plus the temptation is too high to check email or look at social media.
2. Be consistent with your sleep schedule.
The mind and body love routines. Routines set up patterns, and patterns reduce the need to think. Keep a consistent schedule of going to bed at the same time. Don’t “sleep in” on the weekends or off days. Get up at the same time. Changing the schedule throws off the pattern.
People that don't have any issues with sleep can afford to have a routine that changes. You need to be consistent.
3. Have a routine to get ready for sleeping.
Start a process about an hour before bed that puts you in a state conducive to sleep.
Try these approaches:
- Relax through meditation, music, reading, yoga, or breathing techniques.
- Avoid looking at a bright screen prior to bedtime. The light can suppress release of the hormone melatonin, which signals the brain to go to sleep.
- Take a warm shower right before bedtime to increase deep sleep as your body cools.
4. Set up your bedroom to help your odds.
Temperature, noise and light are the basics.
- Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature.
- Wear earplugs and a sleep mask if noise and light bother your sleep.
- Get blackout shades to keep out light.
- Use a white noise machine, or even a fan, to mask outside or household noises.
- Don’t lie in bed watching TV or reading. This way, your bed becomes associated with sleep.
5. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep.
If you go to bed and can’t get to the sleep, then you need to get up. Lying there can be counter-productive if it gives you anxiety about the fact that you are not sleeping.
Sit and relax in a chair. Read a book. Do some meditation. And avoid the TV, phone and computer. The screen brightness can fool your body into thinking that sleep time is over.
You need to get up and get out of the pattern of being awake in bed. Lying in bed awake for hours really accomplishes nothing. You’ll still be exhausted the next day.
6. Track the impact of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
Caffeine is in coffee, tea, energy drinks and some medication. Alcohol can help some people fall asleep initially but has been shown to result in poor quality sleep. That’s why you wake up and still feel exhausted. Plus, alcohol as medicine is a bad cycle to get into.
7. Stop procrastinating at life.
When you lie down in bed, does your mind immediately start listing all the things that you know you should do but haven't? Are these the same things night after night?
Maybe they are uncomfortable, or embarrassing, or hard. If you are nervous or you think you might fail, then it is common to keep putting them off. But resolving these issues will unburden your mind. Anxious thoughts about the future can be a major contributor to insomnia.
Write them down, put action items beside them and resolve to get out from underneath their weight.
8. Make sure you get regular exercise.
Without getting into all the benefits of exercise, it is fair to say that if you are not getting the equivalent of a brisk walk daily, then it's time for some evaluation. The fatigue and generally better health will help you sleep and reduce insomnia.
The only caution is to not do intense exercise within a few hours of bedtime. It will ramp up your adrenalin levels and can make it hard to fall asleep.
Insomnia can be a battle. Give yourself every advantage by arming yourself with these strategies.