Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that affects millions of people experiencing difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep at one time or the other. Insomnia takes a toll on your energy, mood, health and ability to function every day. Making some adjustments to your bedtime routine may help you to get a sound sleep. People believe that Insomnia is just a natural inconvenience that comes with age. It is true that after the age of 50, many people tend to wake up earlier and experience fragmented sleep. But no matter how old you are, most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Considering the potential dangers of taking sleep meds, natural alternatives are definitely worth considering. Here are the simple, non-medical steps you can try to help you get good sleep and overcome Insomnia.
1. Get into a Regular Routine
As human body likes balance and regularity, going to bed in the night and waking up in the morning at the same time every day can create a regular habit. Consistency supports your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps keep your body’s internal clock in sync. Try to wake up naturally without an alarm clock and go to bed at night only when you feel sleepy, not because it’s time for bed.
2. Get Early Morning Sunlight
Early-morning sunlight helps you sleep at night. Too much of sun’s warm rays can be harmful to the skin but the right balance can have lots of benefits and one amongst them is good night’s sleep. Exposure to sunlight regulates the production of serotonin and melatonin hormones which are involved in the sleep-wake cycle.
3. Exercise at the Right Times
Exercise not only improves overall health but also makes it easier to fall asleep but it should be done at the right times. Exercise before bed could lead to disrupted sleep since sleeping is associated with lower body temperature and exercise raises your body’s temperature. But newer research shedding light on the issue that lighter exercise before bed can contribute to quality sleep.
4. Manage Your Stress
It is easier said than done, stress can create substantial barriers to sleep. Stress is inevitable in this fast paced life so find out ways to manage your stress levels. Practicing some relaxation techniques such as breathing technique and muscle relaxation technique helps your body to relax and get sound sleep.
5. Eat Right Through Out the Day
Choose protein foods that are rich in amino acid tryptophan, which helps boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin which in turn helps to control your sleep-wake cycles. Carbohydrate foods make tryptophan more available to the brain and can make you feel drowsy. Try whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and avoid processed foods. Check out for some of the sleep-inducing foods.
6. Limit Naps
Long naps during the day can make it hard to fall asleep at nights. For years, napping has been derided as a sign of laziness but lately, scientific evidence proved that midday dozing benefits both mental acuity and overall health. Try to limit your naps to 15-30 minutes and the best time for a nap is mid-afternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. Short nap enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood and sharpens motor skills.
7. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Before Bed
Although alcohol has the potential to put people to sleep but one drink a few hours before bed can disturb the most restful stage – REMS (Rapid Eye Movement Stage) of the sleep cycle. REM sleep stage happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. Assess the amount of caffeine that you are taking in on a daily basis as caffeine also interferes with the sleep cycles. Your body takes about 6 hours to eliminate just half the caffeine in a cup of coffee, so try out decaffeinated beverages.
8. Don’t go Overboard on Food Before Bed
Heavy and spicy foods can cause heartburn or stomach trouble that may interrupt sleep. Lying down as soon as you eat can cause the acid in the stomach to leak out into the food pipe or esophagus causing reflux. Try to finish dinner at least 3 hours before bed. Hunger pangs can be avoided by a light snack, like a banana or cereal which can promote restful sleep. Check out for some of the sleep-inducing foods.
9. Check Your Sleep Environment
Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and a little cool. Avoid watching TV in bed and cut off all your electronic gadgets, relax with a book or some soft music until you feel like nodding off. The goal is to train your mind to associate your bed just with sleep. A comfortable mattress and pillow are recommended. Even try sleeping masks and ear plugs which can help you to fall asleep.
10. Stay Active All Day
Do not lead a sedentary life by sitting at one place for long hours. Get some physical activities such as aerobic exercises, jogging, swimming, cycling and dancing into your daily life, you can even opt for some outdoor sports. Say no to elevators instead start taking the stairs. Straining your body with some or the other physical activities will invite a good night’s sleep.
Although these changes may not help at first but if followed you should see some improvements within a month. When the above lifestyle measures are not enough, a psychological approach that can supplement them is cognitive behavioral therapy. It provides a focused, deliberate method for re-teaching bedtime habits and putting an end to anxious thoughts about sleep.