15 Tips for Better Sleep When You Have Insomnia
First, let’s get the frightening fact fast - about one in every three persons we meet in America has insomnia. The chances that you already know enough about insomnia are high but still let’s recap a bit.
Insomnia is something when the following happens to you:
- You struggle to have a continuous sleep without waking up a number of times during the night
- Your sleeping runs out too early and you can’t get back to sleep again
- You experience a non-restorative or poor quality sleep.
Every one of us is aware of the importance of a good night’s sleep. Other than keeping us in an uplifting mood and making our brains sharp, proper sleep can also help us fight heart diseases, keep the level of blood sugar in control and maintain our weight within the healthy limit. Proper sleep also provides protection from hormonal imbalances which can pose serious threats to pregnant mothers or women who want to have children. So it is pretty obvious that if we don’t have proper sleep due to suffering from insomnia, we are going to be anxious, dejected and cranky all day long. Insomnia can also shoot our attention to pieces and we may very well forget important stuff as we move along through the drudgery of the day. And insomnia can leave its deadly effect in the form of drowsiness while we drive.
So it is of utmost importance that we deal with insomnia before it’s too late. Let me help you fight insomnia by going through the following 15 tips carefully:
1) Optimum Sleeping Environment
It’s the basic necessity for sleep if you suffer sleep disorders. And if you ignore the sleep disorders for long enough, you might as well be sure about making insomnia an inseparable part of your life. But what exactly optimum sleeping environment refers to? Let me give you a few heads up:
- Our brain starts producing melatonin when it’s dark, which essentially is the signal for inducing sleep. That means light prohibits our sleep signals and keeps the sleep at bay. So, it is necessary that we make our bedroom dark. But if we fail to do that for reasons beyond our control, we should practice using a comfortable sleep mask over our eyes.
- Different people react differently when they hear noises of different rhythms. I prefer utter silence while my wife can’t take it for long and gets jumpy and her sleep cycle suffers. So, I wear earplugs while my wife listens to continuous, monotonous white noise from a white noise machine. Know what works for you and act accordingly.
- The ideal room temperature for sleep is 60–67℉. Our body has to experience a drop of 2-3 degrees before it gets activated for drifting off in sleep. This drop is an essential part of our circadian rhythm and the optimal temperature and the requisite drop accelerates the whole process. On the other hand, if it’s too cold, we would be waking up in a regular interval which prevents proper sleep. So we should be careful about the room temperature and make sure we keep the mercury where we want it.
2) Limit The Usage Of The Bedroom
The 2014-2015 President of the AASM Dr. M Safwan Badr, M.D. wanted us to remember that our bedroom should only be used for sleep and sex. The logic is, by limiting the usage of the bedroom only for those imperative tasks, we train our brain subconsciously to fall asleep faster when we actually get there to take rest. So eating, texting, surfing through the web or watching movies in the bed are a capital NO. Without experiencing these stimulants, our brain will begin assigning the space reserved only for rest and relaxation.
For some, like for yours truly, reading in bed is synonymous with relaxing. So, for people like us, investing in bed reading pillows will go a long way to keep the integrity of our final resting place at the end of a long, tiring day.
3) Mattress Matters
Most respectable hotels around the world invest abundantly in maintaining the quality of the mattresses that are used by the guests to sleep on. That’s why we hardly hear anyone complaining about not getting good sleep while staying in good, quality hotels. So, why not spend adequately on the most important piece of equipment that can ensure quality sleep? But before wasting your hard earned money, spend some time in researching and walk through different options at first. You will be surprised to know about the varieties available – like you can get mattresses for heavy person who otherwise would have trouble falling asleep in mattresses for average-weight people.
If your house is frequented by friends and family not only in Christmas but also for random occasions or you just love having long chats with your near and dear ones and staying them overnight, you should consider both sides the arguments of futon vs sofa bed for the extra peoples’ staying in.
4) A Routine Goes A Long Way
Modern civilization entrusts us to wear many hats to accomplish our many roles. With varying activities like work schedule, travel, parenting duties, etc it is always cumbersome to maintain a strict routine for sleeping. The truth is our bodies excel in functioning through a steady routine. When we go through discipline in everyday choirs, our bodies can anticipate ensuing tasks and get ready to complete them smoothly. Preparing meals, showers, exercise or mundane things like that are turned into cornerstones of our daily life. The result is that there would be a physiological rhythm which propels us in sleeping in time and in abundance. This approach is scientifically backed by a study that found daily routine can enhance sleep efficiency and sleep quality for elderly patients. We all know that elderly population notoriously suffers from sleeplessness and have different types of sleep disorders. So, it is imperative that we try our best to have symmetry in our day-to-day life to keep insomnia away.
5) No Screen Times Before Bed
It is a certainty that many of us have to stare at computer screens for a huge amount of time in a workday. Though it is not the greatest of news, we have to swallow that bitter pill. But the alarming thing is the amount of time we keep looking at the screens of televisions, computers, and smartphones or gaming devices. The screens we stare at pass off blue light. The problem with the blue light is that it stops the release of melatonin from our brains mentioned earlier as the chemical influencer to drift us off towards sleep. In simple terms, blue light prevents us sleeping. That’s why we need to shut off all screens at least half an hour before our bed time. If some urgent issues arise and we need to use blue screens, we should use physical blue-light filters or software to reduce the blue light concentration.
6) Space Out Dinner And Bedtime
As per our natural skeletal structure, we are programmed to digest keeping our abdomen erect. There is also the issue of acid reflux or gastric at minimum which can dial up towards heartburn and indigestion, if we lie down straight after having meals. That’s why it is always preferable to have dinner at least three hours prior to our regular bedtime. It will ensure that our food has traveled farther up, or in this case, I should say – farther down the digestive tract. With that being said, if hunger keeps nabbing you and keeps you awake, have a snack - just remember avoiding items like obtuse proteins and trans-fats. Even in regular times, those are difficult to digest, rather opt for a bite of a fruit with a cup of oatmeal with milk and any such options that are easily available.
7) Melatonin Supplement
As I have mentioned before, melatonin is the chemical indicator for our brains to fall asleep. That’s melatonin supplements can work wonders for fighting with insomnia. In one study, the subjects took 2 mg of melatonin before bed and experienced an improved quality of sleep and felt energized the next day. The participants are also said to have fallen asleep faster. Another study was conducted to gauze if and what percentages of improvements in falling asleep could be achieved if melatonin was applied. And it was shown that about half of the subjects had fallen asleep quicker and the whole group suggested an improvement of about 15% in overall sleep quality. In both the studies, no reports spotlighting withdrawal syndromes among the subjects were reported. 1 to 5 mg of melatonin is usually the ideal amount and they should be taken before 30-60 before bedtime. But it is imperative that you see your doctor before starting to use melatonin for insomnia.
8) Other Supplements For Insomnia
Melatonin is not the only one that can fight with insomnia. Have a look at the followings as well:Melatonin is not the only one that can fight with insomnia. Have a look at the followings as well:
- Ginkgo Biloba: a natural herb which can induce sleep, brings about relaxation, and reduces stress. People with insomnia can take about 250 mg 30–60 minutes before going to sleep.
- Glycine: amino acid Glycine is also known for improving sleep quality.
- Valerian Root: roots of valerian are also effective to make us fall asleep, they are also capable of improving the quality of sleep.
The below supplements can also help us fighting insomnia:
I cannot put enough emphasis on one thing – it is an absolute must to consult the doctor before taking any supplement, no matter how extensively it gets researched or how supremely beneficial it can be.
9) Alcohol Is Not Allowed
Even a couple of drinks after work to let the steam off may completely disrupt our sleep cycle and cause imbalance to sleep inducing hormones. Alcohol also causes sleep apnea and cuts off sleep patterns. Another drastic impact of alcohol is that it
Alters melatonin production. Alcoholic drinks also hamper the productions of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which plays significant roles in various important mechanisms inside our body.
10) Manage Your Daytime Naps Wisely
The short power naps taken by the Japanese may have their place in making us refreshed, but we need to be careful about how long we are spending in daytime siestas or when we are doing them. Daytime sleeping might baffle the internal body clock which in turn can cause us problems in falling asleep at night. Sleep scientists say that irregular or long daytime naps make people sleepier than those who don’t sleep at all during daytime.
As different studies and the habits of the people from eastern hemisphere point out, regular and short naps which don’t last more than 30 minutes can be effective, but long and/or irregular naps create more problems for insomniac people.
Common sense has long been suggestive of exercises being conducive to better sleep. And science has gone through numerous psychological studies and surveys to provide results on that idea. In a study conducted by Stanford University showed that, elderly participants of the study did 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise and enjoyed significant improvement in reducing the time it took to sleep. Their sleep quality and duration were also improved. Many other studies have also supported the idea that exercise helps us fight insomnia. The only caveat is that resistant training or exercising that are taxing over the body and mind should be done at least 3-4 hours prior to bedtime. It is also important to get the right exercise routine that suites individual body types best.
12) Control Caffeine Intake
A tall cappuccino that clears the fog inside my brain after waking up is literally the only thing that can make me functional, at least for the first half of the day. Coffee works wonders until we treat it as a morning necessity, but it overstays its welcome if we drink them later in the day. Caffeine tends to stay in our bloodstream for a long time. Half of caffeine’s alertness power may die down after 3–5 hours, but the rest of the stimulant can keep our nerves sharp for another 8–14 hours. To avoid that, we need to stop drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks at least six hours before bedtime. And it's best we keep our caffeine intake level under 200 gm per day.
13) Don’t Look At The Clock
Remember the sleep and sex sanctuary I have mentioned earlier - another fantastic yet brilliant idea is to keep the watch in your bedroom in a place from where it can’t be seen. Because watching the clock in every five minutes or so will only make you more worried about why you are awake so late. Instead, just lie restfully, force the worries away and have a passive attitude and try to enjoy the warmth of the duvet or coziness of the mattress you choose for yourself. You will be sleeping before you know it.
Yoga is a proven way for relieving stress and subsequent improvement in quality of sleep. By practicing stretching, balance, and strength-building protocols with the help of mind relaxing meditation can indeed fight insomnia. And resources for practicing yoga alone by self-learning or taking help from a seasoned master are not a stretch by any definition anymore.
Acupuncture may be synonymous more with the Eastern cultures but they are quite handy to fight insomnia. This 3000 year old practice helps us improve the functionality of our body mechanisms and ensures the strengthening of the natural self-healing process. Acupuncture may be very productive but it is a bit on the expensive side. You can find a list of some of the most effective acupressure points for insomnia. And it is possible to apply with the help of a partner to practice acupuncture. You need to be careful and practice carefully, but surely worth a try that has been still going on strong for the last 3000 years.
There you go.
I sincerely hope the above will help you get rid of insomnia. And will let you have a good night’s sleep that you deserve so very much.
Jennifer R. Heller is the Sleeping products expert and merchandise testers at Sleeping Park