It has been estimated that almost 40% of people get less than the recommended amount of sleep per night, thanks to a busy schedule and a culture that never slows down. Insomnia actually affects one-third to one-half of adults in the United States, and about 15% of those people will experience severe distress because of lack of sleep.
Insomnia can have both internal and external factors, and once these factors have been identified, it becomes easier to control the problem. Here are 10 strategies to help you break the vicious cycle of sleeplessness, and start getting your best sleep without turning to medication.
1. Stop Worrying About It
Those who struggle with sleep generally dread night time, as they stare at the clock which induces anxiety, fear, and anger. Approach bedtime with the thought that if you have a terrible night’s sleep , tomorrow night you may sleep better—rather than the thought that you’ll have a bad day because of your lack of sleep.
2. Practice Your Relaxation
When you’re stressed or feeling anxious, your body will release hormones which will make falling asleep more difficult. Instead, try to take part in relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to help you release the tension of the day and fall asleep.
3. Find Your Perfect Pillow
When your pillow supports your neck in the proper way, your sleepless nights can turn into meaningful rest. Those who sleep on their back will need a thinner pillow with more neck support. Side sleepers will need a firm pillow to fill the void between the ear and shoulder. Lastly, stomach sleepers will need a thin, soft pillow that won’t strain the neck. If you think you have the right pillow but aren’t sleeping well, pay attention to how you wake up and adjust your pillow accordingly.
4. Learn to Recognize Your Stress
Know when you’re starting to feel stressed out about not sleeping with indicators like rapid breathing, an elevated heart rate, and muscle tension. Once identified, aim to control these symptoms to bring your stress level down to something that is normal. You can do this by meditating, soaking in a warm bath, or reading a book right before bed.
5. Establish Your Routine
Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning, for the entire week. When you stick to a schedule, you’ll feel more alert than if you sleep on a varying schedule throughout the week.
6. Get Out of Bed if You Can’t Sleep
If you’re lying in bed, restless, for more than 20 minutes, go and do something else, except using electronics. This will help to break the association of the bed with negative emotions. Try to read or journal, but be mindful that you still should be relaxing.
7. No Electronics
This includes watching television or playing on your computer, smartphone, and iPad. Though many people see these things as aids in relaxing, they actually secretly remind us of everything that you should be doing. Additionally, the blue light that is emitted from the device tells the body that it should be awake.
8. Aim to Exercise Between 5:00 and 7:00 PM
You should not be taking part in any strenuous activity before 3 hours of going to bed. The exercise will elevate your body’s core temperature for 5 to 6 hours, disallowing you to feel sleepy. A low body temperature helps to bring on the drowsy feeling.
9. Avoid Caffeine After 2:00 PM
Caffeine can affect a person for up to 6 hours after their last sip. Consuming caffeine too late in the day can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep cycle. After a sleepless night, one may feel dependent upon caffeine to survive the day, but indulging too late in the day will give you another sleepless night.
10. Keep the Room Cool
Ideally, keep your sleeping area at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Beware, though, a room that is too cool will keep the body from relaxing as it will go into protective mode trying to defend the core temperature. If the temperature is too high, it may induce nightmares!