National Bed Month has come to a close, and the collective consciousness is emerging from its slumber, peeping out from under the covers and wondering if it’s ok to stay here a little longer. But waking up from an arbitrary 31 days of awareness shouldn’t mean a return to taking our sleep for granted. Particularly, for those who suffer from insomnia, proactive steps are required if the holy grail of a nightly seven to eight hours is to be achieved. With this in mind, here are 6 IDEAL ways to deal with your insomnia.
GET YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM PLAYING IN TIME
If you want to sleep like a baby, it’s time you start treating your bedtime like one; a consistent, early turn in, probably a bath, possibly a story, perhaps even a nappy for those who wake up in the night needing to go. Ok, we’re only joking with that last one, but you get the picture.
A strict adherence to routine in terms of when you turn in and when you rise is the key to tackling insomnia. On the flipside, erratic and unpredictable bedtimes only stoke its insistent fire. If you want your body to function to its full potential, to dance to its most productive rhythm, then conditioning your circadian rhythm (your body clock) to always wake you up at the same time is a good place to start.
The aim here is to take back control of your sleep from an over-reliance on phones and exterior forces. Do everything in your power to wake up naturally. Go to bed at the same time each night having not binged on blue light or eaten too much in the hours beforehand, get out of bed soon after you wake up, then follow a similar set of rituals immediately after (water, yoga, a light breakfast…) and soon you’ll find your body clock is synced to a natural, consistent daily rhythm. Only then are alarm clocks rendered redundant.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT & DRINK IN THE RUN UP TO BEDTIME
We should all know to avoid stimulants like coffee close to bedtime, as well as depressants like booze which savage the quality of our sleep. But it’s important to pay close attention to everything you’re consuming in the evening if you’re to keep insomnia at bay.
Start by gradually moving your dinner time forward; it’s generally recommended that you should eat at least three hours before turning in. Or, as the old saying goes, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Same rules apply, though. For spice lovers, some bad news; chilli causes indigestion and the capsicum makes regulating body temperature tough, which adversely affects a good night in the sheets. Foods which are associated with promoting a restful sleep include bananas, oats and nuts.
CONSIDER A SLEEP AID
If you need a warm drink before bed, valerian tea (available from any good health food store) gets you seriously drowsy, and is considered a useful tool in the fight against insomnia. Recent wisdom has also suggested the addition of a strong CBD oil to a drink of water or chamomile tea promotes restfulness. Moreover, it is believed to reduce anxiety which is a major cause of insomnia, and in turn, improve sleep quality. You can buy CBD oils in health food stores such as for the Ageless.
Another useful sleep supplement to stop you from tossing and turning at night to consider is Night Aid, which contains vitamins and herbs to support a proper night’s sleep. A spritz of natural lavender oil on your pillow, which is known for its calming properties, can also help soothe insomnia sufferers.
SAY NO TO NAPS
A nap can be so tempting – insistent, even – in that post lunchtime lull we all suffer from. Head on the desk, 40 winks, refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon, we reason. But succumbing to a quick restorative sleep can disrupt your body clock and lead to more pronounced insomnia. Do all you can to resist the urge; go for a short walk in the fresh air instead, or take some exercise, to bring clarity and focus for the rest of the day. Do so, and you’ll go to bed properly tired and ready for sleep.
We all know that adopting a more mindful, in the moment mindset can have lots of benefits. Perhaps where those will be most keenly felt is in the ability to soothe the soundtrack of stresses, concerns and anxieties which keep insomniacs awake at night. Many sufferers of sleepless nights cite rumination as a major cause of their laying in bed and staring at the ceiling in the search for answers. Fortunately, a key component of mindful meditation is the quieting of these cyclical thoughts. Take a little time each evening to practice meditating and soon you’ll find yourself able to call time on, or at least turn down, that ruminating. What’s more, such practice will also lead to a calmer approach to nodding off in the first place. There really is no reason not to.
CHANGE THE WAY YOU VIEW SLEEP
Too many of us take our sleep for granted, viewing it as an unwelcome obstacle to productivity or recreation. But by changing the way you define sleep, you’ll develop a more healthy relationship with it. Start by doing a little reading on the physiological wonder of getting a good night’s rest; the way the brain and body repairs itself, protects against illness and provides insight during the night is an incredible thing to be cherished. So, treat sleep with respect by getting ready for it properly and not jeopardising its success with blue lights, food binges, booze, caffeine and ruminating.
Equally important though, is to not put pressure on yourself if sleep just isn’t happening. Don’t lie there cursing distractions. Instead, get up and do something valuable with the downtime, safe in the knowledge that sleep will come later, when it’s needed.