There are many different lifestyles out there, but there’s something we all have in common. Everyone must sleep. If we don’t get rest, we lose the ability to function.
Insomnia can be an intense burden, and it often grows worse over time. After a few miserable nights spent tossing and turning, the anxiety surrounding bedtime begins to increase. This can make getting a good night’s rest even harder.
You already know that lack of proper sleep can contribute to serious health conditions, but what are you supposed to do? If you've been struggling to get the rest you need each night, it's time to take a closer look at your lifestyle.
Maybe there's something you're doing that's messing with your sleep patterns. There could also be something you haven't yet tried that might help.
Figure out a Bedtime Routine
Adults put a lot of energy into guiding their children through bedtime routines, yet they often neglect their own. If you’ve been falling asleep with the television on or with your phone in hand, it’s time to make a change.
Numerous studies have shown that screen time can disrupt sleep, especially when the devices are used within an hour before bed. Screens emit a type of light that wakes up our brains and makes it difficult to wind down.
You might think you’re relaxing as you scroll on Instagram, but you’re doing your mind and body a huge disservice. One study even linked screen time to depression in adolescents.
Instead of watching something or browsing social media before bed, consider a more mindful nighttime routine. Shut off the electronics and spend some time checking in with yourself before sleep.
Meditation is a great pre-sleep activity, as we’ll cover in the next section. Another excellent option is reading an old-fashioned book.
There’s a good reason that people have been practising meditation for thousands of years. It works! A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that meditation and other mindfulness exercises helped people sleep.
The study divided participants into two groups. The first practised meditation and the second took a sleep education class that provided other tips and tricks for better sleep. By the end of the study, the people from the meditating group had less fatigue, insomnia, and depression than members of the other group.
Any form of meditation or mindfulness training will help with insomnia. What’s particularly effective is adding meditation to your bedtime routine.
Stay Away from Alcohol and Caffeine
It might be surprising, but alcohol can interfere with sleep. It’s easy to drift off while inebriated, but your body will wake back up a few hours later when the buzz has worn off. At that point, it’s often difficult to return to sleep.
Caffeine is another common substance that’s terrible for your sleep patterns. Don’t be fooled by the fact that many people consider it an acceptable daily beverage. It’s a drug, and it can disrupt healthy sleep.
Studies have shown that caffeine can mess with your body’s internal clock. It can throw off sleep cycles and reduce the amount of time a person spends in deep, restorative sleep.
These negative effects can occur even if you limit caffeine to the mornings and afternoons. If you’re struggling with sleep, try going caffeine free for a while. The withdrawal symptoms can last a week or more, but once they wear off, you’ll likely feel more relaxed and balanced.
Experiment with a Weighted Blanket
If you find comfort in being held, you might want to try a weighted blanket. These blankets are designed to put pressure on the body, which mimics the feeling of being enveloped in a warm hug. In a 2015 study, researchers found that 63 percent of adults who used a 30-pound weighted blanket reported reduced anxiety.
In another study, participants reported that weighted blankets helped ease insomnia which is one of the widely touted benefits of weighted blankets.
Set Your Alarm for Later
Are you the type to set an early alarm and then smash the snooze button before finally getting up at the last minute? It’s time to stop torturing yourself.
Dozing for 10 minutes between alarms doesn’t offer any benefits. You’ll be much better off if you set your alarm for later and remain in a deep sleep for longer.
If you try these tips and don’t see an improvement in your sleep patterns, it’s time to visit the doctor. Anxiety disorder and other underlying health conditions can worsen insomnia.
Talking with your doctor is an important step toward discovering the root of the problem and getting the help you need.