If you are human, chances are you have, at some point in your life, had trouble sleeping. But, if you regularly have trouble sleeping, you may want to look into what’s causing it and chances are you can do something about it. Without getting too much into the physical, medical causes of insomnia, there are some things you can do to improve your quality of sleep.
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 30% of adults suffer from some form of insomnia (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, and in some cases, non-restorative or poor quality of sleep.)
Here are some common causes for insomnia:
- Certain medications
- Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol
- Medical conditions
- Change in your environment or schedule
- Poor pre-sleep habits
- ‘Learned’ insomnia i.e. worry about not being able to sleep
- Eating too late
Barring any physical or medical causes for insomnia, there are a few controllable factors that may contribute to your inability to fall or stay asleep, and there are some ways you can give give your brain the night off.
Here are some things to do to help improve your ability to sleep:
- Recognize your need for sleep. If you need to cut corners at night, give up that last activity rather than short yourself on sleep.
- Cut out chocolate, and caffeine they overstimulate the adrenal glands which causes an overproduction of hormones which leads to adrenal fatigue or exhaustion
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm
- Exercise. An overabundance of energy can lead to anxiety and sleeplessness, which leaves you feeling sleepy and depleted. While it might seem like you’re too tired to exercise, give it a try.
- Have a healthy pre-sleep routine comprised of hygiene and winding down
- Write down your worries. If you capture your list of worries (early in the day), your mind will consider it accounted for and can help you to let go.
- Only use your bed for sleeping (and intimacy). You’ve heard this before, but it’s true. Don’t use your bed for television watching or gaming as they stimulate your brain and make associations with the bed for NOT relaxing.
- Make your bedroom a sleep haven. Keep it cool, and dark. Any amount of light or fluctuation in temperature can interrupt your sleep.
- Pre-sleep yoga. Poses like forward folds and child’s pose relax the nervous system.
- Meditate. If you find your mind wandering during meditation, try a guided meditation that’s timed to go off automatically so you can drift off into sleep.
- Breathing. Often, we breathe only in the chest in ‘fight or flight’ mode making it impossible to relax. Exercises like alternate nostril breathing or taking slow deep belly breaths with controlled exhale can help calm the mind.
- Give your mind something else to do. When all else fails, and your mind is still racing when you hit the pillow, focus your brain on something else like a good memory or thinking of fruits with a certain letter.
If none of these things work, you may want to consult a sleep specialist to find out if there’s more going on. Here are a couple of videos that you might find helpful in your quest for sound slumber.
Yoga for Bed Time with Tara Stiles
Guided meditation to sleep
Give your brain permission to stop working so you can get some sleep.
– Your Charmed Yogi
(Photo: My Healthy News Daily)