by Morgan Elliott: Are you sick of twisting and turning in your bed as you watch seconds, minutes and hours pass while you can’t get a shut-eye?
Is your sleep deprivation interfering with your family life, your career and your social life? Well, it’s time to beat insomnia once and for all with these practical and easy tips.
Limit your bed use to sleep
This is one of the main mistakes people make—using their bed to read, catch up with work, watch tv or grab a snack. Your bed should be used for sleep only (and getting frisky with your partner!) Other activities will not only create negative associations but also overstimulate your brain and make relaxation and sleep impossible.
Normalize your circadian rhythm
Establishing a good routine is crucial for healthy sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every day (even on the weekends) and wake up at the same time (again, even on the weekends). This will allow your body to create a consistent sleep-wake cycle. In time, you’ll get to fall asleep quickly, enter deep sleep during the night and wake up feeling energized. Another way to get your circadian rhythm to normal is to get plenty of sunlight during the day. Exposure to the sun will shake you up in the morning and boost your production of melatonin in the evening.
Use pillows to get comfortable
People who suffer from any type of acute or chronic pain might have trouble falling asleep. Back pain is especially tricky because solid sleep requires long periods of lying and maintaining pressure on affected areas. If you suffer from back pain, try turning on your side to reduce lower back pressure and invest in an ergonomic mattress that’s supportive yet not too hard. Placing a pillow between your knees will also help by aligning your hips. Neck pain can also affect your sleep. If you suffer from stiffness in your neck, make sure to practice good posture throughout the day and try some stretching exercises. Grabbing a pillow that will keep your neck in a neutral position can further make things easier for you.
Hit the gym
Physical activity is great for every aspect of your life, insomnia control included. According to people who suffer from sleep disorders, just half an hour of physical activity per day can improve your sleep quality. No matter what you choose, cycling, running, swimming or hitting the gym, you’ll make a great choice. Most activities don’t require any special equipment, so you really don’t have an excuse. Even if you hit the gym, you just need a good gym backpack and everything else will be at your disposal after you get your gym membership. Want to go cycling or hiking? Fill your backpack with a few supplies are you’re ready for the road. However, make sure to stay away from any strenuous activities 3 to 4 hours before bed to reduce your adrenaline surge. Yoga, tai chi and meditation, on the other hand, are perfect for relieving stress and stretching before you hit the sack.
If you love to snack before bed, it’s smart to know what you can and what you shouldn’t eat late at night. For instance, fatty, fried and spicy foods can create plenty of indigestion problems and keep you up all night. Carbonated drinks and acidic beverages are best reserved for the day too because they cause heartburn. But, you can try snacking on things like cereal with milk, crackers and cheese and fresh fruit. Keep your portions small and don’t eat right before you go to bed. Leave at least an hour of time for your stomach to digest before you turn in.
Reduce caffeine intake
If you rely on coffee to keep you up in the morning, try to avoid caffeine after noon and especially in the evening. However, it’s not enough to just stay away from coffee and energy drinks. Many foods, drinks and even meds contain caffeine. Some lesser-known sources of this stimulant are chocolate, tea, sodas, pain relievers and weight loss pills. If you’re very sensitive to caffeine, this might be the thing that’s keeping you up at night.
Stay away from alcohol
Alcohol is tricky. It might seem like it helps to put you to sleep, but in reality, it’s huge for sleep disturbance. It messes with your sleep cycle and might cause you to awaken early than expected and increase the frequency of waking up during the night. Also, it relaxes the muscles in your throat which increases the risk of sleep apnea. So, make sure to pick an evening drink that won’t disrupt your sleep and give you a headache in the morning. A cup of chamomile tea or a glass of warm milk will put you in the right mood for sleep and help you doze off quickly.
If you’re a light sleeper, make sure your environment is as quiet as possible. It’s quite hard to avoid certain noises like traffic, barking dogs or construction work outside, but you can grab a pair of earplugs and forget about everything. A white noise machine can also help mask the annoying sounds and provide you with calming and relaxing hums.
Ditch technology before bed
Technology is so practical today that it can be tempting to take it with you to bed. However, most devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs and digital clocks all emit blue light that can disrupt your circadian rhythm and mess with your sleep. It’s best to leave these devices in the living room and reserve your bedroom for more relaxing activities. If you just can’t stay away, there are special orange-tinted glasses that block blue light and apps that can be installed on your devices that turn off blue light emission. This might not prevent the negative effect, but it can reduce it.
Insomnia isn’t something you have to learn how to live with. It can be beaten as long as you have the right weapons at hand. These easy tips will come in handy whenever you feel like sleep deprivation is preventing you from living your best life, so make sure to keep them in mind.
Morgan Rose Elliott is an aromatherapist, yoga instructor, animal lover, a happily married mother of three. She enjoys reading biographies and writing poems, sunny days on the beach and any shape and form of vanilla. Crazy about the ’80s, her favorite band is Duran Duran (although kids prefer Franz Ferdinand, and the husband Blink182) and she is obsessed with Netflix original Stranger things.