Are you having a hard time finding sleep at night? Probably you are fond of waking up in the middle of the night, Looking at the clock and longing for the day to come through. Well these are tips to help you beat insomnia as well as improve your sleep.
1. Day time routines – Ninety percent of what we do during the day influences our behavior at night and so does it have an effect on sleep patterns. To start you off you may have a diary where you record what habits cause the lack of sleep. In addition some of the day’s routines that can help improve your sleep are:
Avoid taking naps during the day- If you have to reduce it to 20-30 minutes and these should be taken before 3.pm.
Limit your intake of stimulants- Caffeine alcohol and nicotine in the forms of tea coffee and your favorite wine could be causing you the struggle with sleep at night. Start off by minimizing the amount of each of the stimulants.
Avoid taking late meals- Our bodies need time to digest the food, taking late meals increases strain in our digestive system which affects the relaxing hormone responsible for sleep.
Stick to a regular sleep and wake time- This will assist your body to develop an automatic biological clock for you within which you will enjoy your sleep.
2. Minimize or cut off artificial light at night – Most of the light is blue light which comes from devices like mobile phones, laptops and TV’s. The blue light inhibits production of melatonin, a hormone involved in sleep regulation.
You could also consider buying glasses that reduces the effect of melatonin suppression to increase your sleep comfort.
Some of the inexpensive glasses are made of uvex and solar shields.
3. Enhance bedroom coolness and darkness. You may have realized that when you sleep in a cool and dark place this enhances your sleep. The reason behind is the fact that this reduces body temperature and marks the onset of sleep and sets out the temperature in our bodies into the surrounding environment. If you share the room with someone who is scared of darkness you may consider using an eye mask.
4. Manage you stress well – Probably number one reason for lack of sleep is stress.
When our brain is stressed out (flight/fight mode) it is usually hard to turn it to rest and “digest mode” at night. The only way we can be able to achieve this is by trying practices like meditation and yoga during the day.
Once the brain is used to switching during the day it will be easier to switch to the rest mode at night.
5. Address health conditions like Apnea and Restless leg syndrome – These are health conditions that have lead to many people lacking sleep. Apnea is not easily detectable and one may need the advice of a health practitioner to help them link insomnia to apnea. On the other hand the restless leg syndrome is easily recognizable.
To rule out apnea you need to do a sleep study especially if of you are having daytime sleepiness or you wake up frequently at night. Sleep apnea is common in people who are obese, have a high blood pressure problem, diabetes or have a history of snoring; hence it is advisable to seek medical assistance to determine the cause and treatment of apnea which will ultimately address lack of sleep.
6. Go camping – Our circadian rhythm (a mental system, behavioral that follows light patterns in a 24-hour cycle) is affected by our exposure to light. It is the rhythm that sets out the sleep schedule. Once it is tampered with it needs to be reset.
The only way to do this is by get as much exposure to natural light as possible and avoiding light at night.
The only way to do this is by camping up-country where natural light is abundant. Studies have shown that a full day’s exposure to sunlight helps reset the circadian rhythm and ultimately aids in increasing the ease of falling asleep.
If you camping time coincides with the moonlight, there is no need to worry as the moonlight does not affect the circadian rhythm.
7. Exercise – Having a good work out improves the chances of having a good rest and sleep at night. It’s advisable to look out for something you love doing.
Joining the gym, running in the evening or morning is advisable but not recommended for beginners, try doing your hobbies like increasing the frequency of your swimming sessions, playing hide and seek with your little ones and table tennis.
These activities not only refresh you but also excite your mood which prepares you for a good bedtime rest.
8. Lastly try out some natural remedies. Once you have observed all the 7 steps you might consider the health remedies, some writers call them dietary supplements. Some of these natural supplements have side effects. To start you off you can use lemon balm and chamomile tea, which are harmless. Other remedies which might have side effects (You need to check with your health practitioner) are:
Melatonin supplements: As I had mentioned earlier melatonin is the leading sleep hormone that is produced in our body, some of the causes of lack of sleep like stress work by suppressing it. Hence some people use melatonin supplements to boost melatonin levels in their bodies to increase sleep. It is commonly used to reduce jet lag. However it has some side effects like next day drowsiness.
Valerian: This is a natural herb that helps increase sedation in a person’s body. The only problem it the wide range of Valerian varieties.
Magnesium supplements: Magnesium brings a calm effect on the nervous system. Some people take it in doses of one to two teaspoonfuls while others do chelated forms. The only harmful effect is that magnesium usually causes a laxative effect.
Other supplements are l-theanine (green tea), 5HTP ( Usually taken before taking melatonin ) and taurine.
By: Vitali Zverev