12 Tips for Better Sleep When You Have Insomnia
The sleep scientists define insomnia as finding it difficult to fall asleep or stay awake. And it results in feeling dissatisfaction with the quality of sleep, and the insomniac person ends up experiencing fatigue, shortage of energy, fluctuations of mood, troubles in concentrating, etc., which ultimately transpires in a subpar performance in office or school. About 30% of US adults have some form of insomnia at some point in their lives, and for about 10% of the affected population, it becomes chronic.
If you are in the group mentioned above of 30% US adults and don’t want to see yourself upgraded in the 10% of chronic insomniacs, please carry on reading. I would try to help you with a few tips, 12 to be exact, to deal with insomnia.
1. The Bed is Only for Sleep and Sex
You may find it difficult to accept, but the simple notion of using the bed only for sleep and sex will significantly enhance your chance of falling asleep quickly. Many of us, including yours truly, enjoy watching sitcoms from the comfort of the bed. It is incredibly detrimental for falling asleep fast when you lie in bed for sleep. So, when you get up from the bed in the morning, you should make a promise that you won’t get back there again until some 15-16 hours later.
One other factor we sometimes ignore is that the quality of the mattress also helps a great deal to fight off insomnia. So to get the best mattress and the best pillow, invest to the best of your ability. Even if you are a student sharing the bedroom with your friends or classmates, try to get the best bunk bed mattress you can afford.
2. No Blue Lights before Bed Time
Any human being living in the modern connectivity of the present world can’t do without computers, e-readers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, gaming consoles, etc. All these devices pass off blue light, which consists of short frequency, and they are considered harmful to the eyes and cause disruptions in sleep. So it’s a must you reduce screen time prior to sleep. It doesn’t matter if you are having trouble falling asleep or not. And it would be best if you can stop using them altogether for several hours before you go to bed.
But if you simply are unable to do that, for whatever reasons, use tinted glasses with orange shading to prevent the blue lights from being seen by your eyes. Also, in-built or third-party apps can stop emitting blue lights from your devices as well. Covering up the digital clock is another way to help yourself from insomnia-induced sleeping disorders. And dark-colored or simply black curtains are enough to stop ambient lights getting inside your bedroom from outside.
3. Clock-Watching Increases Anxiety
Stop watching watches at night, period.
If you can do this, you can successfully eliminate one reason making you prone to insomnia, which is wonderfully within your grasp. Seeing the seconds or minutes idling away when you are wide awake is one surefire way to invite anxiety. And you might know that anxiety is one of the influencing factors for making people insomniac. So, turn the clock around to make yourself stop seeing it.
Instead, get up from the bed and engage yourself with something without making anyone wake up. I used to go to the study room and read a few paragraphs from my favorite books. You don’t have to read books if you are not a reader, but you get the idea.
4. Get Rid of Neck Pain
There can be many reasons for neck pains; for my husband, it was his fluctuating blood pressure. The problem is neck pain prevents quality sleep. Other physical denominators notwithstanding, just rectifying proper posture can decrease the occurrence of neck pain and ensure you enjoy adequate sleep. Get your neck in a “neutral” position, which means the center of your body is aligned with your nose. You need to rest your head in a pillow, the height of which should be able to let the neck in a neutral position.
If the height is too high, you will have your chin bent too far toward your chest. And if the pillow is too low, your nose will be in an awkward angle facing the roof, and the neck will be bent too far backward. Do not sleep on your stomach either because it also causes neck pain.
5. Make Your Mattress and Blankets Free from Allergies
Allergies prevent enjoying quality sleep, and if you are prone to insomnia for other uncontrollable reasons, it will increase the chance of making you chronic insomnia manifolds. The fact of the matter is you can sufficiently control allergies like sneezing, sniffling, and coughing. Nasal stuffiness and allergies alleviate snoring, and snoring prevents people from enjoying a natural sleep cycle.
So get the treatments first if you are allergic already. If it’s not a physical condition already in-built in your system, get the bedroom allergen-free. Get rid of dust mites from bedding by using zippered hypoallergenic covers made of microfiber, which also ensures the mattress does not become mold or mildew.
6. Get Your Circadian Rhythm Right
Circadian rhythms are a 24-hour cycle that the body follows internally to carry out crucial functions. It also maintains our sleep-wake cycle. In simple terms, if you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends, you are mostly programming your circadian rhythm to make you fall asleep at a particular time every day. It might take some practicing if you are a student or in a transitioning phase in your life or career, but once put in place, the habit can help you fight insomnia immensely.
7. Beware of Hidden Caffeine
Caffeine’s chemical properties interact with the chemicals within our system to help us stay awake. So if you want to sleep at night, you should stop consuming it in the evening and after sundown. But not only coffee but some other food and beverages are notoriously rich in caffeine. Unfortunately, some medications also contain a dosage of caffeine, which can be proved to be damaging for quality sleep. So get to know about the caffeine-rich foods and drinks and avoid them in the evening and after sunset. And for the prescribed medications, consult your doctor.
8. Physical Exercise Keeps Insomnia Away
A daily dose of physical exercise decreases the chance of developing insomnia and paves the way for a restful night’s sleep. Numerous studies have been done on this topic. Unlike other studies portraying varying opinions, it is harmoniously said that as little as 10 minutes of simple aerobic activity can improve the quality of sleep. Cycling, running, swimming all can be done, and they will render results. Just make sure you don’t work out within 3 to 4 hours of your regular bedtime. But yoga and tai chi are said to be relaxing to do in the after-hours of the day, and they can relieve stress and set you up for good quality sleep.
9. Choose Nighttime Snacks Wisely
You should already be aware of past indulgences that some foods which are dense or very rich, dried, or spicy cause indigestion and indigestion invite sleeping disorders. Carbonated beverages and citrus fruits can also act as triggers and cause indigestion and heartburn. All of those can keep you awake at night. So, choose your afternoon snacks wisely and keep insomnia at bay, at least from unwise gastronomic indulgences.
10. Keep the Bathroom Interruptions to A Minimum
Dehydration is not suitable for health, but keeping that in my mind should also be worth remembering that repeated urination at night won’t let you have a quality sleep. If that happens without drinking excessive water that might be indicative of other physical problems, and you should visit your doctor to find out the reason. Otherwise, limit your fluid intake at least 2-3hours before you usually go to bed for sleep. This will enable you to relieve yourself before going to bed and uninterrupted quality sleep for hours at a stretch.
11. Avoid Tobacco for Better Sleep
A lot has been said about the effects of nicotine on our body, and studies have found a direct correlation of nicotine with insomnia. I just want to let you know that nicotine has a profound impact on our neurotransmitters which stimulate the brain chemicals that prevent us from falling asleep and staying asleep. It also inhibits restorative REM sleep. So if you can quit, with the plethora of physical reliefs, you may also be free from insomnia.
12. See Your Doctor for Chronic Insomnia
Everyone gets to go through nights without sleep. Still, if it becomes chronic insomnia, you need to visit your doctor to ensure that sleeplessness is not the sign of some other serious underlying health issues. Follow the advice if it is indicative of some other issues. And if it is only insomnia or sleep disorders, consult with the doctor about the potential use of medications.
There you go – my 12 best tips to deal with insomnia. I hope you would find them not only helpful but also easily applicable.