After a long day of hard work all you want to do is go to sleep.
So you go through your nighttime routine and even make it a point to get to bed 15 minutes early… but 4 hours later you are still tossing and turning.
And yet again, insomnia rears its ugly head.
If you struggle with insomnia, you are not alone.
The National Institute of Health estimates nearly 30% of Americans struggle with a sleep disorder.
And while doctors are quick to shove sleep medication into the hands of an already drugged out nation, there may be another way.
If you’re having trouble sleeping check out our tips before you reach for that bottle.
- Put Down the Screen
You might be one of those people laying in bed trying to fall asleep… and scrolling through your social media feeds or checking your email at the same time.
Perhaps you think mindless Facebook scrolling is a way to “wind down” after a long day of work.
But what you may not know is just how harmful that little blue light is for your body while you are trying to sleep!
In fact, research shows viewing screens messes up your entire circadian clock and can cause insomnia in a big way.
Scientific American reported:
“Recent studies have shown that short-wavelength [blue] light has a greater effect on phase shifting the circadian clock and on melatonin suppression. In 2014 my colleagues and I examined the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with reading a printed book. Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep [the phase when we dream] and had higher alertness before bedtime [than those people who read printed books].
“We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.”
If you struggle with insomnia (and are addicted to your phone) set your alarm and put your phone in airplane mode and place it across the room so you won’t be tempted to check your phone.
And if you have a TV in your room – move it out to another area.
Looking to unwind before bed?
Try reading a book instead.
- Stop With the Caffeine
You might not realize just how much caffeine can seriously mess up your coveted Zzzs.
Americans are addicted to caffeine and we pound back the stuff like its water.
But maybe you aren’t a huge coffee drinker but after work, you went to grab coffee with a friend at 6 pm… and 4 hours later the caffeine is still running through your system and you can’t sleep.
Or perhaps you’re working on a project or proposal and are used to drinking coffee to give you that “extra push”.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) did a study with folks taking caffeine 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime and their conclusion showed folks who had caffeine even at 6 hours suffered sleep disturbances.
“The magnitude of reduction in total sleep time suggests that caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep and provides empirical support for sleep hygiene recommendations to refrain from substantial caffeine use for a minimum of 6 hours prior to bedtime”, reported JCSM.
Caffeine is a stimulant… and its goal (you guessed it) is to stimulate your body.
So skip the soda and caffeine at least 7 hours before bed.
One cup of joe in the evening isn’t worth keeping your body up and unable to sleep throughout the night.
- Manage Your Stress Throughout the Day:
As you ease into your nighttime routine, make sure you are winding down, not winding up.
Right before bed is not the time you want to have a stressful conversation.
And hopefully, throughout the day you are practicing self-care like eating healthy and working out.
But remember, not all insomnia is caused by stress.
And if you’re wondering if stress could be the cause of your insomnia, The Sleep Foundation has this helpful tip:
“As with any symptom, an important question to ask is ‘when did it start?’ Does the sleep problem come and go with the occurrence and disappearance of stress or does it persist through all the permutations of one’s life? That is, is it situational?”
Take a step back and look at your current life situation and see if an event could be the cause.
Perhaps a relational breakup or death in the family is leaving you stressed.
Or even something more subtle like an overpacked schedule.
Learning your stress “triggers” can do wonders in getting your mind back on track.
Also, try keeping a notepad by your bed – so if a random thought comes to your mind during the night you can write it down… and go back to sleep!
If you’re looking for more ways to beat stress, check out our previous tips here.
Insomnia can make you a zombie during the day and rob you of your energy. It can cause a whole host of medical problems too like aching joints and headaches.
There isn’t one single cause for insomnia, so consider trying our tips above to get better sleep.
The last thing you want to do is reach for a bottle of sleeping pills and become addicted to a synthetic substance just so you can sleep.
Try beating insomnia the natural way first, but should it persist you may have a sleep disorder and you may need to see a doctor.
WebMD recommends seeing a doctor if you are falling asleep while you’re driving or if your performance at school or work is seriously suffering.
As Freedom Health News previously reported, you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, on average.
But don’t get discouraged! Insomnia can be a hard beast to tackle but victory is possible.
Have you ever suffered from insomnia? What do you think is the root of your insomnia?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your friends and family to let them know how to tackle insomnia for good!