Insomnia is a plague of inconvenience when it comes to getting enough rest for the day ahead. When you feel wide awake even though you’re ready for bed, or you’ve woken up after two hours of sleep, simply closing your eyes sometimes isn’t enough. Being prone to bouts of insomnia myself, there are a few things I do to make sure I fall asleep and stay asleep even during times of stress. Here’s my guide to a good night’s sleep.
This isn’t a specific tea to drink right before bed. It’s actually best that you don’t drink anything right before you go to sleep other than a few sips of water. While staying well hydrated will prevent you from waking up with a dry throat, you don’t want to wake up absolutely bursting for the bathroom either. A soothing drink, like non-caffeinated tea, is a good thing to have a couple of hours before bed every night. In doing so, you are establishing a subtle routine that is letting your body know it’s time to relax, guaranteeing a good night’s sleep. Caffeine, a property of things like coffee, many teas and chocolate is a well-known sleep inhibitor, so if you are prone to bouts of insomnia, it’s best to consume any caffeinated foods in the afternoon.
Read a Book
This has been mine and my mother’s go-to-cure since I was little. Laying down in bed with a good book would have me asleep before I got to the end of a chapter. You’ll sometimes find yourself wanting to stay awake to read what happens next, but don’t fight the slumber. According to the University of Sussex, reading reduces stress by up to 68%, distracting you from daily stresses, allowing your muscles to relax and your breathing to slow. Another statistic by the Sleep Council shows that 39% of people that make it a habit to read before bed, sleep very well. If you wish to read with an electronic device, it’s worth noting that most emit blue light that trick the body into thinking that it’s daytime, making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. But- of course, there are ways around this. Turning the blue light off on your devices will prove to be beneficial if you’re often checking your phone in the evening.
Set a Sleep Schedule
This is when you put down or switch off all the things that are going to prevent you from having a good night’s sleep. Going to bed at the set time creates a routine that your body will slowly adapt to. Do ensure you are going to bed at a reasonable time so that you get enough sleep and set an alarm to wake you up. If you have a hard time staying asleep, there are apps and smart watches that can monitor your sleep so that you can adjust and make improvements to your sleep schedule.
Listen to ASMR
There’s something about soothing whispers and repetitive tapping that soothes and calms to the point of sleep. I think I may have trained myself to fall asleep to ASMR. If whispers and tapping make you feel uncomfortable there are plenty of videos on YouTube and apps that provide white noise, ocean noises and rain sounds to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Work out Regularly
Establishing a healthy work out routine, enough to leave you a little bit out of breath, is a great way to reduce insomnia, especially if you work out in the evening. According to the Sleep Foundation, the post-exercise drop in temperature is what may make it easier to fall asleep, reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms. If you do already work out regularly, try changing up your schedule to fit in a work-out after work or Uni.
Last Resort Meds
If you have been struggling to sleep for more than a week, and none of the above has been of any help, I’d definitely seek a doctor’s opinion. They will probably suggest the hormone melatonin, which we do have naturally occurring in our own bodies and is said to be at its highest at night, contributing to our natural sleep cycle. While melatonin is usually recommended for those with jet lag or other sleeping disorders, it is incredibly helpful in ensuring a good night’s sleep, but only as a last resort!