Last Updated: 4th October 2016
Do you ever lie awake for hours at a time on a night? All you feel you can do is stare at the ceiling, wishing your mind or body could just shut down. You’re watching the clock, seeing the hours tick by knowing you need to wake up in a few hours’ time; that you need to do a full day on just one or two hours sleep.
If it happens once in a blue moon, it is probably just annoying. You know the very next night you’ll get a great night’s sleep and feel better for it the next morning. You’ll just count down the hours during the day until you can crawl back into your bed.
But what if you suffer from insomnia? What if this is a regular occurrence, and every night you find yourself struggling to get your brain and body to shut down? What if you have to deal with each day running on a couple of hours sleep if you were even lucky enough to get that?
The good news is that you don’t need to worry about it any longer. You can cure insomnia and get a good night’s sleep again. Here are all the tips and tricks you need to manage it right now.
Know You Are Not the Only One
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There are hundreds of thousands of people suffering from insomnia around the world. Many people feel like they’re the only ones awake during the night and that there is something wrong with them, but that is not the case.
Stop worrying about this, because it is just making your insomnia worse. Your mind simply cannot shut down the more you worry about things.
Insomnia affects everyone differently. You may have read blogs online from others who have suffered from it.
For some, it happens regularly throughout the week until their body just shuts down on them and lets them sleep for a night. But even then they won’t feel refreshed the next day. Others will find that their bodies learn to survive for a couple of hours of sleep a night consistently, and just think this is the norm.
It can get worse for some during major events or when problems arise. Others will just find it seems to affect them at random times. There is no wrong or the right type of insomnia, but that doesn’t mean yours can’t be cured.
Insomnia Doesn’t Mean A Whole Night Of Being Awake
Something many people believe is that insomnia means that someone will be awake for hours at a time, and in most cases the whole night. This is not always the case. As mentioned above, everyone suffers in different ways.
Insomnia is officially defined when someone does not get a quality night’s sleep.
People need a different amount of hours for their bodies to feel refreshed and recharged. Some will find that five to six hours is enough while others need eight hours every single night. You may only get three or four hours sleep, but feel fully refreshed and ready to tackle another day. However, you may get six hours sleep—or what felt like six hours—but feel worse for it, and that is when insomnia is a possibility.
Some people will find that they have no problem falling asleep on a night. Their insomnia happens to them waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to get back to sleep.
Or they may wake up far too early in the morning; hours before their alarm goes off.
You may have insomnia if you struggle to concentrate during the day, or feel fatigued and irritable. This is often due to lack of quality sleep, and some people rely on caffeine and medication to keep them going. You may be one of those who relies on sleeping pills on a night just to fall asleep, or you drink alcohol to feel drowsy enough to sleep.
So, now you know that you are an insomniac, it is time to prevent and cure it. It’s time to get the good night’s sleep that you deserve.
Why Do You Suffer From Insomnia?
In most cases, insomnia will disappear on its own after a couple of days. For many people, it is due to an upcoming event that they are subconsciously worried about, and their bodies and brains are struggling to shut down for the night. Temporary stresses over a house move, a painful breakup or an upcoming birth are very common reasons for insomnia.
However, there are cases when insomnia goes on for longer periods of time, and it can seem like there is no reason for it. This is often diagnosed as chronic insomnia and is linked to underlying issues. These issues can be medical or psychological.
Depression and anxiety are commonly linked to insomnia. Your mind is worrying about so much or you have so many other issues that are causing your mental illness that you will struggle to sleep. You may be in emotional distress, such as due to grief or anger.
Trauma can also lead to the psychological issues that cause insomnia, and other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder are sometimes blamed.
Some medical issues can also lead to insomnia. These can be mild, such as allergies that are just preventing you from sleeping properly, or may be more serious like Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Your medical illnesses can prevent the body from working properly, but will also have an effect on the mental health. You start to suffer from stress, and that leads to the psychological reasons for chronic insomnia.
In some cases, medications will cause bouts of insomnia. Antidepressants and medication for high blood pressure, ADHD and hypothyroidism are all linked to struggling to get a decent night’s sleep. Even over-the-counter flu and cold medications and pain relievers can cause insomnia due to the caffeine that may be included in them. The good news is that some of this will be temporary. Once you stop taking the medications, and they are out of your system, there are high chances that you will return to a normal sleeping pattern. The problem comes if you cannot stop taking the medication for whatever reason.
It is worth noting while discussing medication that slimming pills often contain ingredients that interfere with sleep. These can also include ingredients that are dangerous in other ways. It is very important to do your research into any pills that you take and always consult a doctor before taking them.
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Finally, sleep disorders are linked to chronic insomnia, which may be unsurprising to hear. For example, you may suffer from sleep apnoea, meaning that you regularly wake up during the night. In some cases, you won’t even know that your body is waking you up, and that leads to feeling like you haven’t slept despite thinking you have.
Circadian rhythm disturbances and restless leg syndrome are other common reasons for insomnia. If you work the late shift, or you have jet lag, you may find that you suffer from temporary, chronic insomnia while your body gets used to a pattern again.
If you suffer from any of these or you, believe medication may be an issue, the best course of action at first would be to talk to your doctor. However, many of these tips are all natural, non-invasive and holistic approaches to help you combat your insomnia. So, you can follow them if you wish. The following are certainly beneficial if your insomnia is psychological or emotional related.
Start Using A Sleep Diary
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After reading all that you may still be uncertain about whether you’re an insomniac or not. It’ snots uncommon, so don’t worry about that. The best thing you can do is keep a sleep diary to help you determine if there is a problem or not.
Record the times that you go to bed and the times that you wake up, whether through the night or just on a morning. It’s worth writing down any dreams that you had and how you feel the next morning. Do you still feel tired, like you haven’t slept at all? Maybe you feel fully refreshed, despite only having four hours sleep.
Record everything that you do just before you go to bed. Do you watch TV late at night or play on your phone? Maybe you spend some time meditating to ease your mind. You may be researching something for work or your life. It’s also worth recording what you do while you’re struggling to sleep. Do you listen to music? Maybe you start reading a book or doing housework to use up the time.
By recording so much, you are more likely to spot patterns. You may find a link between your lifestyle and your insomnia, so you can make changes and not suffer from insomnia again.
There is also a possibility that you will find a pattern to when you start struggling with sleep, such as during a certain time of the year or when you have big presentations coming up.
Go to Bed And Get Up at the Same Time
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Sometimes you need to train your body to sleep during certain hours. This can take weeks or in some cases months, but it will help you cure your insomnia for the long term.
While you may be tempted to use your night time hours to do something useful, you’ll just end up preventing your mind from shutting down and your body from relaxing. The best thing you can do is remain in bed, and create a schedule for the night.
Got to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every single day. Even if you don’t sleep, getting into this routine will be good for you. Not only will you be able to get on with things during the day—such as work—but you’ll also make it clear to your body that the night hours are when you should sleep.
Yes, you will likely be tired during the day. Having a 30-minute cat nap won’t do you too much harm, but you don’t want to nap too long. Your day time naps should not replace your normal sleeping times.
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You also want to think carefully about the times that you do nap. Avoid doing it just because you go to bed, because you will find that you’re not tired enough to fall asleep on a night.
Create a routine around your schedule, as you would for a baby. It could involve getting a relaxing bath, drinking some hot cocoa and reading for an hour before you sleep. This routine will soon become the norm, and your mind will click that this is winding down the process. Sleeping will come much more naturally.
Even if you’re not suffering from a bout of insomnia, stick with your routine. There will be nights where you simply can’t, but the majority of the time you want to train your body into this pattern, so insomnia doesn’t become an issue again in the future.
Create a Dark And Quiet Atmosphere
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Too many people have bright rooms with background noise constantly taking place. You may have gotten used to it all being the norm, but your background could be the reason for your insomnia. Too much interrupting your senses will mean your brain just can’t shut down for the night. The extra stimulation tells your brain that it is still time to be awake, despite the actual time.
Some patients find that the best thing to do is buy blackout curtains. This is certainly the case if they have bright lights outside of the house that shine in through the window. It can also be beneficial if the moon is bright and shines through the normal drapes. If you don’t want a blackout blind, thicker curtains can be beneficially too.
For those who don’t want to change their window furnishings because of other people in the house, a sleeping mask is certainly an option. This will block out the light while still offering comfort while sleeping.
Blocking out noise is possible with ear plugs. It is possible to buy some that are designed for sleepers, so they fit comfortably in the ears even when laying on the side on the bed.
Add Some White Noise
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This can seem contradictory with the advice above, but it will depend on you as a person. While absolutely silence is necessary for some, others love some background noise. It makes them feel more secure because they’re not wondering what every little bit of noise in their home is. Just think how you would react if the floorboard creaked in the house when there was meant to be nobody else in there.
White noise is often advised for babies to sleep. They are used to the sound of rushing blood from the womb. As people get older, they tend to avoid noise, and white noise can be distracting, but it can also be beneficial for sleeping.
This is also beneficial if you struggle to deal with outside noise. Not everyone will get on with earplugs, but will have to deal with freeway traffic close to their homes. The senses are overloaded, but white noise can drown a lot of that out without causing too much of a distraction.
White noise is also beneficial for those in busy neighbourhood and cities where there is no quiet throughout the night.
Think About The Temperature
Getting the room to the optimum temperature is also important. So many people think that heat will help them sleep, but the truth is you will become uncomfortable. Your quality of sleep will be affected, and you could end up waking up in the middle of the night because of it.
Try to avoid sleeping with the heating on, even during the middle of the winter. You can add an extra blanket, which can be kicked off during the night if you find that you do wake up too warm.
Experts recommend 18 degrees is the optimum temperature for a baby, so it is something to consider for yourself. You will still be warm during the winter months, but you will also remain cool enough to stay comfortable.
How do you get the room to be around this heat? It could involve opening windows or using air conditioning units. The open windows can lead to noise problems, but the air conditioning units can be too expensive. This is where earplugs can be useful to help you sleep on a night.
Exercise on a Daily Basis…But Not At Night!
Exercise is good for the body and mind. In many cases, it can help those who suffer from chronic insomnia due to stresses and emotional issues. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain to offer pain relief and make people feel happier. They also get the time to work on their problems, while tiring the body out.
However, while you want to take part in an exercise on a daily basis, you do need to think carefully about the times that you exercise. Just before you go to bed is not a good idea.
While it may seem like a good session in the gym can make you feel tired, it can have the opposite effect. Exercise helps to boost the energy, which is why a morning run is more favourable.
Another downside to exercising is the body overheating. This can make it uncomfortable to sleep, so you are more likely to struggle with insomnia if you exercise just hours before you go to bed.
There’s no need to do hours of marathon training every day. Just getting a health 30 minutes of light exercise a day will be enough for your body. Try to do five days a week, but if you do struggle then at least three days will be better than nothing. You can always build this time up as you get used to it.
You don’t need to join a gym, either. Just invest in a pedometer and you can count the steps you make throughout the day. If you have a smartphone, you may even be able to download an app that lets you track the amount of activity you do on a daily basis to make sure you get your 30 daily minutes for a healthy lifestyle.
There are also lots of free or low-cost activities, such as running at the park or playing a game of soccer with your friends. Doing something you enjoy means you’re more likely to stick with the exercise for the long term.
Avoid Eating Too Late
This can be difficult, especially if you work the late shift. The problem with eating just before you go to bed is that your body is still digesting it while you sleep. You may hear the old saying that eating cheese just before you go to bed will give you nightmares, but it works with any food. It’s your body digesting, so your brain and body can’t shut down properly. Things play on your subconscious, and you end up waking up.
Avoid anything stodgy or high in calories before you sleep. This will include pasta dishes and bread. Some meats will also be a problem.
If you really must eat, try something light like a small bowl of cereal or some salad. This is only if you’re getting in late from work and just have to eat something. The best thing you can do instead of eating is drunk a glass of water.
Going to bed on an empty stomach will not mean you will starve to death. Just make sure you have a good amount of food throughout the day to allow you to go to bed with just a glass of water. It’s all about being prepared to make sure you help yourself get the best night’s sleep possible.
Most will recommend avoiding meals two hours before you go to bed. If you’re getting in from work at 11 pm, you don’t want to be eating; or you’re going to be up until 1 is at least!
Cut Out Your Screen Time
Again, this is all about overstimulation. Screen time, whether it is on the computer or the TV, should be cut out completely an hour before you go to bed. The screen light makes the brain believe that it is still light outside, and it will not shut down properly for you.
This can be difficult if you do work late, so you may need to find a way around this. You’ll also need to look at options if other people in the house are using screens when you shouldn’t be; they may not suffer from insomnia.
Avoid using your phone while you’re in bed. The light from this will tell your brain it is time to stay awake, and you’ll find it much harder to fall asleep.
This is the case whether you use it just before you go to sleep or if you wake up in the middle of the night. Your phone also becomes a distraction and a hindrance to your sleeping routine.
Try to switch the TV time to a book or do some meditation—more on this to come. Both of these help the mind unwind and give the eyes a break from artificial light. When reading, make sure the lighting is soft to help you. On the other hand, you could listen to a book through audio to help you cut out all light.
Meditate to Unwind
Meditation is not just some fad. Research has shown that when done properly it can help you relax and unwind. It can help with psychological stress or emotional problems as you focus on positives and your breathing. With your mind at ease, you will find it easier to fall asleep.
There are lots of meditating techniques out there. It’s something worth doing 10 to 15 minutes before you sleep to get your whole body in the mood to shut down for the night.
A major benefit is that your brain moves onto something else after a long day at work. You break the train of thought, focusing on peaceful thoughts and your natural activities. It is not something that arouses the nervous system, meaning you do not get yourself back into an agitated sleep.
While meditation can help, if there is an underlying problem for your insomnia, you will need to seek treatment. You should not use it as a Band-Aid for the real issue at hand. If it is just the case that you need to unwind after a long day, it is something that can be used for the long term.
It is not known as meditation for everyone, as meditation can have negative implications for some. Insomnia patients may refer to it as mindfulness. You’re being mindful of your breathing and focusing on allowing your body to close down for the night. The aim for many is to let go of their worries that may be keeping them up on the night.
This is something you can do on the way to work or as you’re eating dinner. Find a time that suits you and use it to your advantage.
Avoid The Nightcap
Insomnia may appear through the need for a nightcap before you go to bed. The alcohol is not going to help you with your sleeping patterns, and could make the quality of your sleep worse. The drug effect will stay within your system, messing with your subconscious and making it more likely that you will wake up in a night.
It could also make some health problems worse, which then lead to a vicious cycle of your insomnia gradually becoming more serious.
If you’re one of those who likes to party, make a note of how much you drink in your sleep diary. Record your sleep for the night and how you feel the next morning. You may spot a pattern that it is your drinking that is causing an issue.
Likewise, you also want to avoid the caffeine on a night. Some people cut it out by mid-afternoon while others can drink up until about 6 pm. This will depend on you as a person, and something your sleep diary will help you determine.
Caffeine is a stimulant and will keep you awake on a night. Cutting it out or at least reducing your intake will help your mind shut down.
Avoid Big Discussions
Arguments and big discussions often take place in the evening. This is when everyone is home and often the best time to talk. The problem is that it could make your insomnia worse.
If you’re an anxious person, finding out about issues at this time will likely play on your mind. You spend your time thinking about all the possibilities, and your mind just cannot rest for a few minutes. Excitement about the future can after the same effect as worrying about it.
Try to avoid big discussions and arguments just before you go to bed. If you need to have them, focus on other techniques that will help to cast them from the mind temporarily. You could write them down, as that will make it easier to get your thoughts out and not worry about forgetting about them.
You can get a good night’s sleep, and you certainly deserve one. Insomnia affects people in different ways. You may find it hard to get to sleep while someone else struggles to stay asleep on a night. The best thing you can do is keep a sleep journal and find out if there is a pattern or reason.
In some cases, a doctor is the best person to talk to (especially if it is illness or medication related). However, there are plenty of natural methods to help you cure your insomnia completely. Make changes to your lifestyle and get the good night’s sleep you deserve.
Getting into a routine of regular exercise may also alleviate the symptoms of insomnia. Though it’s not a quick fix, it would definitely help not just in getting a good sleeping cycle but with improving your overall health as well.
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