Many of us have occasionally struggled with sleepless nights. The list of causes which create insomnia is a mile wide and ten fathoms deep. Luckily, two of the most common catalysts float to the surface – diet and anxiety. Today we’ll be looking at these usual suspects, and recommending tips and strategies to put both you and your concerns to bed.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that if you’ve been suffering from persistent insomnia, your discomfort may be indicative of a more serious condition. If your symptoms last more than a few days, schedule a visit to your family doctor and provide them with a detailed description of your condition.
Food is obviously the first and foremost cause of insomnia, so beware of any dietary choices which may contain ingredients that could be labelled as stimulants. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda pop can potentially cause sleeplessness, headaches, and other varieties of discomfort. So can decongestants, weight loss pills, and certain types of sweeteners. Consult with your home care provider, and make sure that your upcoming meal schedule takes these factors into account.
Unless you’ve had a recent allergy test, you may have consumed something you may be allergic to – and not even known it. Review the meals of your last day or two, with a specific focus on anything which may have deviated from your usual dietary choices. Were there cooked green peppers in that soup you ordered? What kind of spice was on that chicken you had for dinner? Often, ingesting a food which causes an allergic response can be a likely catalyst for insomnia. If there is an unusual amount of variety in your latest culinary adventures, try restricting yourself to a diet of tried-and-true favourites and see if your sleeplessness vanishes.
If you pay extra-close attention to your thoughts while you’re falling asleep, you may notice a very interesting phenomenon. Many of us tell ourselves stories as we drift off – involving people, places, and situations which we may or may not have experienced. If you’ve had a particularly stressful day, you may have a great deal of difficulty in entering the “storytelling” state which serves as a precursor to sleep. Instead, your mind will race, revisiting the events of the last 24 hours.
One great trick to break this cycle of anxiety-inducing thought? Picture a future event which you would like to take place. Perhaps you have a son or daughter who is not yet married. Imagine yourself at the ceremony, watching them take their vows. Maybe there’s a vacation destination you have yet to visit. Picture the moment you disembark the plane, retrieve your luggage, then hail a cab. Watch the trip to your hotel in the mental theatre inside your imagination. Follow the story to wherever you’d most like to see it go, and before you know it you’ll be sleeping happily and soundly.
Josh Byer is an author, copywriter, and blogger residing in Vancouver, Canada.