By Grant Barker
Studies have shown that a vast majority of people exhibit at least some of symptoms of insomnia from time to time, and approximately one out of every ten people have chronic insomnia. If you are struggling with sleepless nights, there are some simple techniques to try on your own to fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are a few basic dos and don'ts for getting a good night's rest.
Bring anything but sleep to bed. Your bedroom should be a sacred space for winding down and sleeping. Doing anything else in your bedroom will confuse your body, stimulate your mind, and you will struggle with getting to sleep. This includes working, watching TV, having intense conversations, and exercising.
Nap incorrectly. Yes, there is a right way to nap. The most productive and “safe” naps should never go for more than 60 minutes and they should take place before 3 pm. Sleeping too long and too late will sabotage getting a solid night's sleep.
Eat late meals. Although some people describe experiencing “food comas” after a big meal, the body is actually woken up to start digesting food. Try to resist the temptation of late-night bites that will disrupt your sleep.
View devices with blue light before bed. The “blue light” from screens on phones, computers, and televisions inhibits melatonin production, a crucial hormone needed to put you to sleep. Put down or turn off all blue-light emitting devices at least one hour before sleep time.
Drink beverages with caffeine later in the day. It's okay to have a cup of coffee at work in the morning or a Coke for lunch, but once the afternoon hits, avoid caffeine entirely. The stimulating effects of caffeine can last up to 6 hours.
Keep a regular routine throughout the day. This includes the time you wake up, when you eat your meals, and when you exercise. This creates an expected rhythm of wakefulness and energy use, and equally creates a set time for sleep and rest at night.
Keep an insomnia journal. As is the case for many psychological issues, airing out your concerns and frustrations regarding life and sleeping clarifies and defines your problems. Only then can you start tackling your worry and anxiety that may be causing your insomnia.
Create a home work space away from your bedroom. Bringing work home from time to time is inevitable with most jobs. However, separating where you work and sleep is crucial to maintaining healthy sleep practices. Your bedroom should be a space reserved for rest and sleeping.
Exercise regularly. Many people develop insomnia simply because they do not use up enough energy throughout the day. Go for brisk walk, jog or swim, or take up a moderately strenuous sport to burn off energy. Do not be afraid to wear yourself out so you are tired when it comes time to sleep.
Get outside. Sunlight has a lot of health benefits including helping to regulate circadian rhythms. Being outdoors wakes you up during the day, which in turn, allows you to fall asleep better at night.
Contact the BFDC if you are struggling with insomnia, depression, and/or anxiety. They all affect getting a healthy night's sleep.