Do you consistently have trouble falling asleep? Or maybe constantly waking up in the middle of the night without being able to fall back to sleep? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year. In addition, The National Sleep Foundation reports that disordered sleep – difficulty falling asleep, light sleep or non-restorative sleep for several nights or more weekly – affects nearly two-thirds of American adults at some point. How can we find ways to restore our sleep (and our sanity) to find a consistent good night’s rest? Below, I have 5 helpful tips to overcome insomnia.
For many weeks, I struggled with receiving a consistent good night’s rest. Lack of sleep can do more damage than make you grumpy or forgetful. It can affect your sex drive, memory, health, and (yes) even your ability to lose weight. If you suffer from insomnia, there are many steps you can take to change behaviors and lifestyles to help you get a good night’s rest. Here are some tips to overcome insomnia.
Wake Up at the Same Time Each Day
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends consistency. Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day (including the weekends) helps improve your sleep rhythm.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Right Before Bedtime
The effects of caffeine may be obvious, but imbibing alcohol before bedtime may surprise you. While alcohol may have a sedative effect for the first few hours following consumption, it can then lead to a non-restful night’s sleep. On a side note, if you’re interested in foods that help promote sleep, please read this article.
Dr. Michael J. Breus, better known as “The Sleep Doctor”, recommends regular exercise for a more sound and restful sleep. Physical activity increases the time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health, and control stress and anxiety.
Get Your Worrying Out Before Bedtime
If you hit the pillow concerned about all the things you need to do tomorrow or other anxious thoughts running through your head, you’re likely to find sleep elusive. That’s why the National Sleep Foundation recommends creating a “worry journal” before allowing anxiety to enter your bedroom. You can start your own “worry journal” by writing down your worries before bedtime to help get those feelings out of your head. You can also underline or circle the items you need to worry about the next day so your brain won’t feel the need to remind you of them while you’re trying to turn it off.
Leave the Room if You Can’t Sleep
This advice seems almost counter-intuitive to me. However, Dr. Gregg Jacobs of Harvard Medical School recommends that when you find yourself tossing and turning after 30 minutes to simply leave your bed and relax in another room. Using your bed for “sleep and sex only” is a form of stimulus control. So, essentially, only use your bed to sleep when you feel tired. If not, go to another room and find a relaxing activity to engage in, such as reading a book.
Were these tips helpful for you? I’d love to hear about your own sleep journey at email@example.com. And please be sure to sign up for more helpful tips by registering for our weekly newsletter below.