Insomnia is a problem that almost everyone will experience at some point in their lives, though for some it is an occasional inconvenience while for others it is a major problem. Many people also have trouble sleeping deeply or sleeping through the night. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to give yourself the best chance of falling asleep when you want to and of getting that deep, restful sleep you need to stay alert and healthy through the day.
Our bodies are best suited to being active and undergoing exertion during the day, and failure to get some form of physical activity during the day can lead to insomnia. If you don’t get adequate exercise, your body will often have a surplus of energy that makes it difficult to fall asleep. Getting some movement into your day, especially in the morning, does double duty: it gets your blood pumping to make you more alert during the day, and it makes you ready to sleep at night.
You do not have to lift weights or run a marathon, all that is required is some moderate exercise to burn off that excess energy during the day so that you are not only mentally but also physically tired at night. Anything that gets your body moving and your heart beating faster for a sustained amount of time should be enough.
Foods to Avoid
Certain foods and eating habits can contribute to sleeplessness. Be sure that you do not eat within a few hours of bedtime, as doing this will often cause insomnia. This is because your body is busy digesting your meal, your blood sugar level is rising, and you suddenly have a new source of energy to either expend or store.
You will also want to avoiding eating and drinking certain things. Do not consume alcohol prior to bedtime. Other things to avoid are sodas, chips, cookies, or any caffeinated beverages. A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating or drinking within four hours of bedtime and to avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
Resetting Your Biological Clock
Our bodies have an internal clock that is tied to things like light and darkness and our own daily habits. If you have been experiencing insomnia, you need to give your body cues to tell it when it is time for sleep. When you get up in the morning, go outside in the sunshine, or open your blinds to let as much natural light as possible into your room. At night, turn off all lights and make it as quiet as possible in your bedroom. Avoid looking at lit screens for at least an hour before bedtime, as this light can confuse your natural rhythms.
About an hour before your normal bedtime, start winding down. In other words, you do not want to be watching a TV program that is exciting or doing anything that stimulates you. Some people find that reading a book before bedtime or just relaxing on the couch helps them to wind down, do whatever works for you. Turn off most of the lights in the room and allow yourself to relax as you prepare for bedtime. If you can, avoid worrying over what happened during the day and leave it for another time.
You may also consider taking supplements available to help some people fall asleep naturally. Chamomile and Valerian are popular natural supplements that can be very soothing, especially in the form of tea. Melatonin is also popular, it is a substance that is produced naturally in the brain to regulate sleep cycles. As you condition your own natural biological clock, your body should begin producing melatonin when you want it to; until then, you can supplement with melatonin in pill form. If you are taking any other supplements, it’s important to cross-check any potential sleep-aide and ensure that you’re not mixing vitamins that lead to less than optimal results.