When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Work | 20 Tips For Insomnia
You’re laying in bed, you close your eyes, and your mind which seemed so tired at work earlier is suddenly wide awake.
Thoughts won’t stop flowing through your head, and suddenly you need to readjust to get more comfortable. You shut your eyes tight, take deep breaths, and try to lay still, but it still isn’t working.
Checking the clock certainly doesn’t help, after all you need to fall asleep and knowing how much precious time you’ve already lost only makes your mind race with a desperation to relax.
If this sounds familiar, you’re going to want to keep reading.
Insomnia is a common disorder which makes falling asleep or staying asleep difficult.
Sleep is one of the few things your body cannot live without, and everyone has experienced a night of tossing and turning in a battle to get your mind at rest.
Before we get into 20 tips for insomnia let’s go over some symptoms and causes of insomnia.
Insomnia itself is most commonly a side effect of other problems, and can be categorized by the following:
Trouble falling asleep
Waking up earlier than expected
Failure to stay asleep
Sleepiness throughout the day
Inability to concentrate
Most cases of insomnia are related to poor sleep habits such as:
- Drinking or eating too close to bedtime which can make it difficult for your body to relax. Eating a large meal can fuel your body with glucose, and that energy may keep you up. Likewise, make sure to avoid caffeine before sleep, as such products can sometimes take nearly 8 hours to wear out fully.
- Avoid nicotine before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant, and with the popularity of vapes, you may be tempted to use one in bed.
- Not getting enough physical exercise throughout the day can make it hard to fall asleep, and studies show having a physically tired body makes relaxing at the end of the day much easier.
- Depression or anxiety can keep you awake at night. If you’re having trouble relaxing your mind and clearing your thoughts, you’re going to have trouble hitting the sack.
- Too much screen time before bed has also been found to keep you up. The blue light which screens emit (yes, even in sleep mode filters) represses the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
The following medical conditions may also lead to insomnia:
- Nasal or sinus allergies
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Lower back pain
- Chronic pain
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
- Restless legs syndrome
Medications for the following conditions may cause insomnia:
If you believe any of the medications you are on may be causing your insomnia, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment.
Twenty Tips To Beat Insomnia
1. Sleep in a colder environment. Overheating has been found to make it more difficult not only to fall asleep, but to enter the deepest stage of sleep called REM in which your body is getting the best recovery. The recommended room temperature is around 65 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Take a hot shower or bath before bed. When you step out of a hot shower, your body radiates heat from the surface of your skin, lowering your core body temperature and preparing it for a better sleep.
3. Put away your phone, log off your computer, and turn off the TV. Getting rid of the blue light these screens emit earlier in your evening will allow your brain to produce the proper melatonin your body needs to rest.
4. Likewise, hide the clock. Once you’ve set your alarm, keep your clock out of sight, and don’t check it. Knowing how much sleep you’ve lost with a busy day to come only makes your brain panic, not relax.
5. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine’s effects can take up to 8 hours to wear off, and although everybody’s body is different, drinking coffee in the evening is a sure way to make it more difficult to fall asleep later. Caffeine is also found many teas, chocolate, and sodas.
6. Similarly, nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided before rest.
7. Don’t go to bed full. Eating a large meal is what gives your body the energy to function, so doing it right before you need to lay still can make doing so more challenging.
8. Don’t go to bed hungry. Hunger can be a distracting sensation when trying to fall asleep, and it can also lead to less productive sleep.
9. Exercise throughout the day. Having routine exercise is not only a healthy life choice, but a good habit for sleep. A physically tired body falls asleep easier however, working out late at night can be stimulating and counterproductive. Therefore working out in the morning or afternoon is recommended.
10. Avoid naps in the evening. Naps after 3pm can affect your sleep schedule when it’s time to lay down at night.
11. Get plenty of exposure to natural sunlight throughout the day.
12. Go to bed around the same time each day. A healthy sleeping pattern repeated each night will help your body adjust and become comfortable falling asleep consistently.
13. Create a bedtime routine. Pick up a book, or try out some relaxing stretching before bed each night. Creating bedtime habits lets your body know when it’s time to relax.
14. Breathing exercises can help relax your body and calm your mind before rest. Try breathing in for 4 counts, hold for 2, and exhale for 5.
15. Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable and to your liking, nobody sleeps well in a bed not suited for their needs.
16. Try progressive relaxation. This method involves working your way around your body, mentally shutting off different body parts one at a time. A common technique is to start with your toes and work your way up to the head.
17. Make sure your sleep environment doesn’t get too much light, as our bodies are programmed to sleep in darkness.
18. Associate your bed only with sleeping. Avoiding extended periods of time in bed during the day lets your brain know the space is for sleep.
19. Keep a journal. Documenting your thoughts at the end of a day can help you expel the stress from your thoughts as you try to sleep.
20. Ask your doctor about sleep medication. If trying these other methods isn’t working.
Trauma, grief, and other emotional and psychological causes can also lead to insomnia.
In these instances, lifestyle changes may not be enough to help you get the rest you deserve.
If a prescription is needed, your PlushCare doctor can send one to the pharmacy closest to you.
Don’t let insomnia win, everyone needs their sleep, and we’re here to help. Just click here to make an appointment.
Read More About Insomnia
Sleepfoundation.org. Sunlight and Sleep. Accessed January 14, 2020 at https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/see/sunlight-and-sleep
Livescience.com. How Blue LEDs Affects Sleep. Accessed January 14, 2020 at https://www.livescience.com/53874-blue-light-sleep.html
Webmd. Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Stress and Insomnia. Accessed January 14, 2020 at https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/muscle-relaxation-for-stress-insomnia