Insomnia is inability to get quality sleep, especially at night. It causes you to spend restless nights tossing and turning in bed, which leaves you fatigued and sleepy during the day. Insomnia can affect your daily activities. It can make you to lose concentration, irritated, and even depression can set in.
To overcome insomnia practice healthy sleep behaviors consistently. You can also try sleep restriction, light therapy, and relaxation therapy. Drinking chamomile tea, valerian tea, or nutmeg and milk can help with insomnia. Also, aromatherapy with lavender or vetiver oil can help induce sleep.
Your sleep-wake cycle is controlled by your internal clock which is influenced by the natural cycle of darkness and light. The hormone that promotes sleep, melatonin is produced by your brain during night time. Psychological problems like sleep apnea, stress, depression, anxiety, or depression, or medical conditions like asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, or conditions that cause chronic pain like fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis may affect your sleep pattern, leading to insomnia.
It is important to identify and treat any condition that lies at the root of your insomnia, some natural remedies and healthy habits can also help you
Follow Healthy Sleep Habits
If you often find it difficult getting a quality night’s sleep, you might need to make changes to your bedtime habits. Here are a few ideas that you should integrate into your nightly routine.
- Stick to your sleep schedule: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day trains you to fall asleep at a specific time.
- Reserve your bedroom for sleep: Use your bed only for sleeping or intimacy. That means no taking your work to bed with you. If you are not able to sleep, go into another room to do something that’s relaxing and come back to bed when you feel sleepy. This conditions you to associate your bedroom with sleep.
- Wind down before going to bed: Try to wind down with some relaxing music or a good book before bedtime. Or you might want to try a soothing bath. Avoid getting on the computer or the phone.
- Avoid stimulants: Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can keep you awake so avoid them before bed if you have insomnia.3According to research, caffeine or alcohol consumed even 6 hours before going to bed can disrupt sleep.
- Create the right environment: The right temperature, lighting, and sound can all help create an atmosphere conducive to sleep. Keep your room at a temperature between 60–67°F as that is considered ideal for a good night’s sleep.
Practice Relaxation Therapy
Stress and worry occupy the minds of most persons, thereby affecting their night-time bed rest. Relaxation exercises can help manage stress and promote restful sleep in most cases. Here are a few techniques that you can try:
- Deep breathing: This is one of the easiest relaxation methods to practice. Get comfortable and inhale for about 4 seconds, then hold the breath for around 7 seconds and slowly exhale for 8 seconds. This can help clear tension and stress.
- Guided imagery: This technique can lower stress and help you sleep better. The powerful connection between your mind and body helps you relax when you imagine a relaxing scenario. Spend a few minutes visualizing soothing scenes such as floating in a peaceful lake or being rocked gently in a hammock while a warm breeze blows. Be sure you picture a scene that you find calming and soothing.
- Progressive relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then relaxing different parts and muscle groups of your body one at a time. This makes you aware of mental and physical tension and helps you release it. Typically, you start at your feet and slowly work your way up your body.
Try Sleep Restriction
Avoid spending much time on your bed if you have insomnia. This sleep restriction technique restricts the amount of time you spend in bed. Here’s what you do.
You limit the amount of time that you spend in bed to time that you actually want to sleep. But don’t get up earlier, instead stay up later. So if you get up at 6 in the morning and you plan on spending 6 hours in bed, ensure you stay up till 12 in the night. Once you start sleeping soundly for those 6 hours, you can spend 15–30 minutes more in bed and maintain your new bedtime for about a week, and so on. Carry on this way, till you get an uplifting amount of sleep a night.
Use Light Therapy
Light therapy involves exposure to light. It can also be helpful in some cases of insomnia. Your biological clock which controls your sleep patterns is influenced by the cycle of darkness and light.
Morning bright light therapy can help people who have trouble getting to sleep early and waking up early (delayed sleep phase disorder). This can help shift the circadian rhythm. Get exposure to sunlight between 6–9 am in the morning for around 30 minutes to an hour. If you don’t have access to naturally bright sunlight in the morning, you can place a commercial fluorescent lamp at arm’s length. Keep to dim light in the evenings and stick to relaxing activities such as listening to calming music or reading a book. You should see an improvement in 2–4 days though you’ll need to continue your new pattern for about a month until you get used to it.
On the other hand, if you can fall asleep early in the evening without trouble but wake up too early in the morning (advanced sleep phase disorder), evening bright light therapy may help you. Here you get exposure to bright light in the late afternoon, early evening, and even late evening. Take a walk and spend time outdoors in the early evening. If natural light isn’t available in the evening, use artificial light such as during winter. Continue to keep the lights on as you watch TV or go about activities in the evening. Avoid bright light in the mornings and wear sunglasses if you go out. Light exercise in the early evening can also be helpful. In a week or two, you should feel less sleepy in the evenings, be able to sleep for longer early morning, and get more sleep overall.
Sip a nutmeg and milk drink
This is yet another popular remedy for insomnia. Nutmeg contains sedative powers in scientific studies. It also helps ease anxiety that is often at the root of insomnia. Stir 1/8th a teaspoon of nutmeg into a glass of warm milk and drink.
Have Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has been used for years in promoting sleep. According to research, it does help you achieve sleep faster. It contains a flavonoid known as apigenin which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and triggers sleep. Take a calming cup of chamomile tea an hour before bedtime so that you can fall asleep effortlessly. To prepare a cup of chamomile tea, steep 2–3 teaspoons of dried chamomile for around 10 to 15 minutes in boiling water.
READ ALSO: What Your Sleep Position Says About You
Drink Valerian Tea Or Inhale Its Fragrance
Valerian tea is another famous remedy for sleepless nights. Studies indicates that this sleep aid binds to GABA-A receptors in your brain to exert a sedative action. Valerian tea can be prepared by steeping a teaspoon of chopped roots in about 8 ounces of cold water for a night. Experts recommend not using hot water for preparing valerian tea as the heat may diminish its useful properties. Drink up about 30–45 minutes before you go to bed.
Inhale The Fragrance Of Lavender
Lavender is often described as the sleep-inducing fragrance. Study indicates that compounds in lavender such as terpineol and linalool have a relaxing effect. A few drops of lavender oil added to your diffuser should trigger sleep.
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