Advertising
Advertising

Overcome Insomnia in 7 Easy Steps

Overcome Insomnia in 7 Easy Steps

The inability to get adequate sleep is a serious concern for the average person. Insufficient sleep not only makes you look like a character from The Walking Dead, but can have some serious health consequences.

HOW LACK OF SLEEP AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH

It has become a kind of badge of honor to proclaim how we are functioning on minimal amounts of sleep. If you realize the damage it can do, you might not be as inclined to stay up watching a Duck Dynasty marathon late at night.

If you like to Eat.Sleep.Rave.Repeat you should be aware that lack of sleep is seen as a stress to the body. Your body is unaware if you are under some sort of environmental or famine-related stress, or it is just that you have been up all night “killing it” at the club. In either case, your body feels something is not right and the hormone cortisol can be released.

Cortisol, along with other stress hormones, can cause a substantial negative impact on the body over time, along with diseases such as:

Advertising

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • ADHD
  • stroke
  • increased heart rate
  • hypertension
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • digestive disorders
  • weight gain and obesity
  • depression

This list just scratches the surface. The truth is that stress is a very real thing and lack of sleep can be a big cause of it. In order to make sure we get adequate sleep, and to combat insomnia, here are 7 tips to get you on the right track to restful sleep.

1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine late at night

Alcohol has the potential to put people to sleep, but a deep sleep might be out of the question. The REM stage of sleep occurs during this deep sleep and alcohol can affect our ability to reach it. Not getting into this restorative section of sleep can happen due to alcohol.

You may fall asleep, but the second half of your sleep cycle–where real rest and recovery happens–will be compromised due to alcohol and caffeine consumed too close to bedtime.

2. Get into a regular routine

Your body likes balance and regularity. This is called homeostasis, or stability, and we respond and function better from it. This pertains to sleep as well as the body needs to recognize a consistent pattern to help itself unwind and, essentially, accept sleep.

Going to bed at the same time every day can create that regular habit. Consistency reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and allows for better sleep throughout the night. Creating a wind-down routine will get your body into that consistent mode. It might be a hot bath at the same time each night, reading before bed, or writing a “to do” list for the next day to get your thoughts under control. The important part is to create a routine and stick with it.

Advertising

3. Don’t exercise close to bed time

It has always been thought that exercise before bed could lead to disrupted sleep, but newer research into the issue is shedding light that it may not be the issue it was thought to be. It is probably not the best idea to run sprints just before hitting the hay, as it can take the body a while to wind down after high intensity exercise, however lighter exercise can contribute to quality sleep.

If exercise is within 3 hours of when you go to bed, you will be all right. A lower temperature is what helps you sleep and exercise increases body temperature. Well-trained athletes are able to return to a lower resting heart rate and body temperature quicker than the average person. If you are new to exercising, keep some time between exercise and bed by a few hours. The main thing is to listen to your body and see how you feel. This is where keeping a sleep journal is helpful; you can keep track of things like exercise in relation to when you go to bed to keep an eye on how it might be affecting your sleep.

4. Avoid TV and blue light at night

You might be reading this right now in bed on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. This is something you really want to be looking to cut out, as all of our electronic devices emit blue light which can have a negative effect on our melatonin levels and, ultimately, our sleep. Melatonin helps control our sleep and ability to stay asleep; unnatural, artificial blue light significantly suppresses it in our body.

This can be difficult as we live in an artificially-lit world. However, greatly reducing our exposure 2-3 hours before bed will allow your natural melatonin levels to work efficiently and allow proper sleep. If you must use your laptop late, there are great programs (such as f.lux) that can reduce the blue light of your electronics. This will give it a more natural light effect.

5. Practice relaxation techniques

Relaxation and breathing techniques allow your body to focus on allowing itself to sleep.

Advertising

Breathing technique:

  1. Slowly relax your body while in bed.
  2. Slowly inhale through your nose over 8-10 seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for a few seconds.
  4. Slowly let the air out over at least 4 seconds.
  5. Continue as long as you like, or until you fall asleep.
  6. If feeling dizzy, slow down and take your time.

Progressive muscle relaxation: This is also known as the Jacobson method where you tense groups of muscles all over the body one by one, and then consciously relax them.

Toe Tensing: This one might seem a bit strange, but the idea is to draw tension away from the rest of your body.

  1. Lie on your back and close your eyes.
  2. Pull back your toes towards your face. Slowly count to 10.
  3. Relax your toes.
  4. Count to 10 slowly.
  5. Repeat the cycle 10 times.

6. Avoid eating a lot before bed

Several books could be devoted to this topic, so I will keep it simple. Going to bed after eating too much can make you feel bloated, and digestive upsets can keep you awake. Your body goes into overdrive when it has to burn off a large amount of food.

Hunger pangs can also keep you up. A light snack might take care of that and promote restful sleep. Stick to things like proteins, nuts and seeds, or celery and carrots sticks with some almond butter. Teas such as chamomile and green tea can help have a calming affect on the body as well.

Advertising

7. Don’t fight sleep

Have you been lying in bed with your eyes clenched, trying to force yourself to sleep? Or trying to tell yourself if I fall asleep RIGHT NOW I will still get X number of hours of sleep?

If you find yourself still awake after 20 minutes, you could be better off getting up and engaging in something that is mildly distracting. The chairman of the National Sleep Foundation, Russell Rosenberg, say worrying about how long you have been awake sets you up for disaster when it comes to drifting off to dreamland. The harder you try, the less likely you will fall asleep.

This can be a good time to find a chair and read, listen to some quiet music, or try some more of those relaxation techniques. The point is to try to distract yourself and allow the wind down effect to take place again.

If you find yourself with sleep issues, you are not alone. Over one half of Americans experience insomnia at least a few nights each week.

Fortunately, these simple steps can help you get back on the right track to la la land.

Now, if you will excuse me, I will be winding down with a cup of chamomile tea and a nice book. Wait, I meant a plate of ribs and watching Die Hard

Featured photo credit: Sleeping Lion Cub/William Warby via flic.kr

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

How to Get the Best Deep Sleep (And Why It’s Important) Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 7 Reasons Revealed 5 Simple Morning Workout Exercise to Start Your Day the Right Way 9 Natural Remedies for Insomnia to Help You Achieve Quality Sleep Top 10 Natural Probiotics for a Healthy Gut and Strong Immunity

Trending in Health

1 Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism 2 27 Healthy Pressure Cooker Meals (with Easy Recipes) 3 10 Ways a Silent Retreat Improves Your Mental Health 4 What’s the Best Tea for Sleep? 7 Recipes to Try Tonight 5 The Best Foods to Eat and Avoid When You Have Diarrhea

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 18, 2019

30 Fun Things to Do at Home

30 Fun Things to Do at Home

I’m BORED! Have you ever heard someone in your family use those words?

Most of us have.

I barred that word from my house. Whenever someone said they were bored, I gave them two options:

First, there is always work that can be done. Secondly, find something to do.

There are always creative things that we can do at home. You just need to put some thought and imagination into your day.

The list of enjoyable things you can do is inexhaustible. I am going to share 30 fun things to do at home. Some of the events are best done at appropriate times of the year. Enjoy!

1. Have a Costume Night

    Generally, the only time we can get away with putting on costumes is on Halloween. It is so entertaining to put on a costume and play.

    Host an evening where everyone has to dress up in a costume. (Some costume ideas here!) Eat your dinner that evening all dressed up. Play games and just have a party. You can even make it a “themed” costume party by choosing a time era or movie characters. Shape it to meet your interests.

    2. Throw an Indoor Picnic

    2

      Set out a picnic blanket and basket of food and eat your dinner as though you were having a picnic. Just having variety in your family life brings you closer together as a family unit. Events like this are often the catalyst for a fun-filled evening.

      3. Have a Christmas Party (*In the Summer)

      Advertising

        Set up some Christmas decorations and have a Christmas celebration during the summer.

        Prior to this event, buy a few Christmas presents to give to an organization that accepts donations for families in need at Christmas time. Have wrapping paper on hand. Wrap up the gifts, while thinking of the joy they will bring to some little girl or boy at Christmas.

        This serves to make your family mindful of others. Everyone in the family will be excited when Christmas comes and they can donate the gifts that you wrapped in the summer. It’s unique to have a Christmas party during the summer.

        4. Host an International Dinner Night

        As a family, pick out a country you would like to learn more about and are interested in. Find cuisine that is unique to that country. Prepare a dinner that would be served in that country.

        The family can even find clothing that is worn in the country and wear it to dinner. Each family member would be responsible to bring one fact about the country to share at dinner time. For example, you could choose Mexico. You could serve tacos, enchiladas,and arroz con pollo.

        Everyone could wear sombreros to dinner. Plan for an evening of creative learning time!

        5. Film a “Newscast”

        The technology that exists today is awesome. Smartphones come equipped to make videos.

        Set up and make a newscast of events that are going on locally or events that are taking place in your family circle. This will also help everyone learn to speak in public. Doing this at home is an unusual way to interact as a family.

        6. Have an Indoor/Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

          Everyone loves hunting for hidden things. Type up a list of things that need to be found and give everyone a list. The things can be inside your home or even outdoors around the yard. Put a time limit on how long they have to locate the articles.

          Be creative. You can even put some things in the form of clues, so everyone has to figure out what the object is. Have a small prize for the winner.

          7. Learn to Do Nail Art

          Nail art is the “in” thing right now. You see people with their fancy nails everywhere. With some patience, you can learn to do this at home. Spend time practicing this. You can find kits and tools for this at department stores and drug stores. It is relaxing to sit around painting nails and compare the outcomes.

          Advertising

          8. Plant Seedlings

          Planting seedlings and watching their growth is rewarding, as well as educational. You would need to do a bit of research as to what would be the best time to plant. The time frame fluctuates between various types of plants. Most plants take 3-15 weeks to mature to a level to be transplanted into a garden. You would want to know what type of plants you are planting and the time needed. It brings great joy to watch them develop and bloom once they are transplanted into a garden.

          9. Host a Themed Movie Night

          76138c257a2b32e07145d6762edf1051

            There are many movies that have sequels. Pick a genre that your family would enjoy. Plan for a whole evening of back-to-back viewing of the movies. Make sure you have plenty of popcorn and snacks on hand! If you want to be really creative, find props that go with the movie and set them out. You can even make a dessert that matches the movie theme. May the force be with you!

            10. Play Games

            Board games are an excellent way to have fun at home. There are so many options to choose from. Some of our favorites include Ticket to Ride, Catan, Sequence, and Risk. These are just a few of the many varieties out there. Go to a local game store and see what appeals to the taste of your family.. The great thing about board games is that you are able to interact with everyone while playing. Let the games begin!

            11. Film a Cooking Show

            9aaf969c0483a05052d71790355bb6b3

              Have you ever watched the cooking shows on TV? Cooking is a hot topic. In fact, cooking shows are so popular these days that there are networks that only broadcast shows about cooking.  Pick out a recipe you would like to try. Pretend you are hosting your own cooking show and video it. Make sure the whole family participates, in one way or another. You are certain to have a lot of laughs while watching your family episode.

              12. Make Christmas Cards

              Homemade Christmas cards are unique and special. Craft stores and department stores sell supplies that you can purchase to make beautiful cards. Use your creative skills and have an evening where you all come together and make Christmas cards to send to your family and friends.

              13. Make a Scarecrow

                Autumn is never complete without the fun of making a scarecrow. Rustling in the fallen leaves and stuffing them into old clothing brings out the kid in everyone.

                One time while visiting my grandfather, I thought it would be fun to make him a scarecrow for his yard. I never imagined that he would come out and start making it with me. He was well into his 80s, and yet the joy in his eyes when we made that scarecrow together was a memory I will always cherish.

                For those who like to be different, you can always make an indoor scarecrow at any time of year, using newspaper or paper towels as stuffing.

                14. Have a Karaoke Night

                Plan an evening of karaoke. This is a great way to spend family time together. PlayStation and Wii have several options to pick from. From experience, this is an evening of lots of laughter and joy! Everyone loves to sing…even those who might not have a singing voice like to bust out at karaoke.

                Advertising

                15. Do a Puzzle

                Puzzle-making is a calming way to spend time together at home. Hours can be spent finding just the right pieces to add to the puzzle. The best part is when you see the finished product. This isn’t a one-night activity, so set aside a place that the puzzle can be undisturbed. You can find mats that roll your puzzle up when you aren’t working on it. If you have a spare table that isn’t used daily, you could have it there on display and readily available to continue on.

                16. Play with Lego

                I am sure you have seen some amazing pieces of art made with Lego. Of course, not everyone has talent enough to make huge projects with Lego. Fortunately, the pleasure isn’t limited to your ability to build great things. Regardless of what you build, simply be creative and let the kid in you come out.

                17. Make Jewelry

                Learning to make jewelry isn’t that difficult. You can find many links on the internet that will teach you how to make earrings and necklaces.

                Visit your local craft store or department store and purchase some tools and supplies. Take your time and visualize what you want the finished product to look like. The jewelry you make can also be presents to give away. That is, of course, if you can bear to part with what you made.

                18. Host an English Tea Party

                  Some of us can remember being a little girl and having tea parties, chatting with our imaginary friends and sipping tea. Now that you are older, why not have a real tea party? Have the family dress up in their best outfits and host an English Tea Party. There are guidelines, recipes, and even games to play on the internet. Do a bit of exploring and planning, then host the perfect tea party at home for your family.

                  19. Plant Bulbs

                  90d7d92b20b0b6eba2a098ccfda860f2

                    There are two times of year that bulbs can be planted. In the fall, you can plant spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Alliums, agapanthus, cannas and some other summer bulbs can be planted in early spring. Set aside an appropriate time and plant bulbs in your yard. You will reap rewards when you see the sprouts starting to come up. Your yard will look lovely with the flowers blooming.

                    20. Read a Book

                    The art of reading aloud has lost its popularity. Pick out a book that would interest your family and have an evening each week that you read the story aloud. Take turns reading out loud. Interact about what is going on in the story line. This can be your own family book club.

                    Looking for books to read next? Here’re some self-help books to read, and here’re some great books for fiction lovers.

                    21. Have a Water Balloon Fight

                    This activity is best done outdoors in warm weather. This is an “action” activity that brings out the youthfulness in all of us. Depending on the size of your family, you can have teams for this. Fill up as many balloons as you like with water. Go outside and aim for your target. Run, laugh and have fun!

                    22. Learn Yoga

                    Yoga is so beneficial for every age group. As a family unit, learn yoga. Once again, there are many learning tools for this. You can find videos at your local library. This is a refreshing way to enjoy healthy interaction as a family.

                    Advertising

                    23. Invent a Writing Code

                    Invent your own code and write messages to each other. Take the alphabet and transform it into symbols and signs to represent each letter. It’s exciting to come up with your code. Once it is created, give everyone a copy of the code, and begin writing messages to one another. It will be interesting to translate words into the special code you made.

                    24. Have a Photo Shoot

                    Gather together some props and outfits and take family pictures. Make sure each member has individual shots as well. Acting as a professional photographer, be creative in the photos you take. Take funny pictures. Take serious pictures. Take candid shots. The joy of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you like and delete what doesn’t work. Make sure you add props to make it interesting!

                    25. Learn Calligraphy

                    84c008b834b445e51dac4e42c7a3d0cd

                      Learning a new technique is always interesting. Calligraphy is a well-known type of writing with special pens. Craft stores and department stores have kits designed to assist you in the learning process. Write out poetry or some of your favorite quotes. You never know, you might acquire a talent and be able to frame some of your work.

                      26. Have a BBQ

                      It’s always enjoyable to have a barbecue. You can cook up your food and eat outside. After you are finished, have a campfire and tell scary stories. Remember how fun it is to sit around a campfire telling stories. Make this happen in your yard. Enjoy the night sky. Most of all, enjoy each other!

                      27. Invent Your Own Board Game

                      Discuss what type of game you want to make. Design the board together. Make the rules that will need to be followed. Make the game pieces that you will need. Play the game that you invented. Coming up with the game and the rules you want to make is an awesome time of interaction with one another. The results of your collaboration will be so exciting to view and play.

                      28. Have a Spa Night

                      Plan an evening where you can do an at-home spa night. Light candles, put on relaxing music, and make your atmosphere resemble a spa. You can do facials, manicures, and pedicures. You also can have bubble baths. Schedule it so that each person is doing a different thing and rotate the process. Your family will enjoy this time of pampering and relaxing.

                      29. Play Charades

                      This game has existed for such a long time and yet it never grows old. You can buy charade games already packaged. However, feel free to make up your own.

                      Each family member can contribute by writing down charades on index cards. Watching your family members act out the charade while the others are guessing is guaranteed to be a night full of fun and laughter.

                      30. Make a Family Scrapbook

                      73308a021102c9062089c59c5fcb9bc3

                        Choose an assortment of family pictures taken during different events. Compile these photos into groups and begin to make a scrapbook. Perhaps you want to focus on a special trip your family took or another meaningful event you wish to document. The ideas for creating your family scrapbook are endless. Personalize this and make it your own; after all, this is your story!

                        I hope that out of this list you will find some new things that you want to try at home. We have already done most of the things on this list as a family, and we look forward to doing the few that are left. Have fun and make some unique family memories that will be remembered for years to come.

                        More Ideas of Fun Things to Do

                        Featured photo credit: Andreina Vincentelli via unsplash.com

                        Read Next