I used to suffer from insomnia constantly, and falling asleep often took hours of restless tossing and turning. I spent the nights fretting about the problems of today and tomorrow, or even stressing about the fact that I couldn’t sleep. Not only did it affect my physical wellbeing, as I found myself to be tired all the time, but it was weighing on my psychological wellbeing as well.
Gradually, I started making changes in my routine that allowed me to be more relaxed when it came time to sleep. I learned to let go of my worries and relax my muscles. Over time, I found myself drifting off with less and less effort, and nowadays I’m gone almost before I hit the bed.
Often times the problem keeping us from sleep is one of bad habits or detrimental routines. Luckily, these things can be easily fixed if we work little by little. These are some starting tips for those other insomniacs out there who are tired of being tired.
1. Set a regular bedtime
Choose a time to sleep every day when you normally feel sleepy. By keeping this routine, your body will naturally get used to sleeping at that time. Try to resist changing this time on weekends or holidays when it can be tempting to stay up later.
2. Unplug and turn off all screens
Bright lights suppress melatonin production in the brain, the chemical responsible for regulating your sleep cycle and making you feel drowsy. Using your computer, cell phone or TV before bed can actually stimulate your mind instead of relaxing it.
3. Have sex
Sex releases chemicals in our brain that naturally relax our bodies and mind. Not only will you feel more tired after a little physical activity, but you will feel happier and more relaxed. Plus, it allows for a little snuggle time afterwards, which is never a bad thing for reducing stress and boosting your relationship.
4. Reserve your bed for sleeping
Avoid spending time in your bed when you’re not sleeping, such as working on your laptop or watching lots of TV; it teaches your brain to associate your bed with these activities that require an alert mind, making it more difficult for you to sleep when you really need it. By assigning your bed the sole activities of sleep and sex, your body will automatically know when you lay down that it’s either time for rest or romance.
5. Avoid late night snacking
It can be tempting to sneak down to the kitchen to grab some treats when that craving kicks in, but it’s actually damaging your natural sleep cycle. Foods that are rich or high in fat take longer to digest and can keep your stomach busy (and even give you a stomach ache) for hours. Try to avoid eating for two hours before you sleep.
6. Drink herbal tea
Herbal tea can have great natural relaxing compounds that help you wind down at the end of a long day. Personally, I’m a tea addict and a nice hot cup before bed is usually all I need to drift peacefully off into dreamland. Some great blends to try are Chamomile, Dream, Evening Repose, and Fidnemed Nighttime.
7. Make the room dark
Turn off all external lights, and pull the shades if the moon is especially bright. This will help with melatonin production and make it easier to doze off. If you wake up in the middle of the night, use a flashlight or other small, soft light to go to the bathroom. This way you won’t have a problem falling back asleep afterwards.
8. Take a shower or bath before bed
The warm water will relax your muscles and your mind, helping you to get rid of stress before you sleep. Try putting a few drops of essential oil (such as lavender or peppermint) or some relaxing bath herbs in the tub, which release a calming aroma and add further relaxing properties to your late night soak.
9. Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine can stay in your system and keep you awake for up to ten or twelve hours after consumption. Try not to drink coffee after noon as it could be the reason you’re having trouble sleeping! Opt instead for something decaffeinated or just good old fashioned water.
10.Meditate or practice deep breathing
If you’re laying in bed stressing that you can’t sleep, or tossing and turning without end, this is an exercise that’s very easy to do and is sure to relax your mind and your body. I call it the square breathing exercise, because you inhale for 8 seconds, hold for 8 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds, and hold for 8 seconds. When you’re exhaling, try to imagine that you’re pushing out all the tension and worry from your body with your breath. It’s not uncommon to fall asleep in the middle of the exercise!