Tips for Overcoming Insomnia
Sleep is vital to health and well-being. Despite this, millions of people suffer from sleep problems. Insomnia, the repeated difficulty of falling or staying asleep, is experienced by nearly everyone at some point in his or her life, although it becomes more common as we grow older. If you're experiencing sleep problems, it's time to make some changes in your routine to ensure that you get a good night's sleep. Try these tips:
- Work out regularly. You'll feel better about yourself and have an easier time falling asleep because exercise relieves tension and relaxes muscles. Gentle stretching is particularly important for relieving stress. Remember that exercise is arousing and energizing too, so don't exercise within three hours of bedtime.
- Leave your worries behind and certainly don't take them to bed. At the end of the workday or a few hours before bedtime, make a to-do list for tomorrow. Write down everything that you find yourself worrying about: calls to make, things to do, and items to pick up at the grocery store.
- Take time to relax and unwind before bed. A warm bath, soft music, meditation, and yoga are all good choices. Drink chamomile tea (be careful to avoid teas with caffeine).
- Remember alcohol can be deceptive. It is a depressant that slows you down and makes you sleepy, but it also disrupts the deep sleep needed to feel rested. If you're having trouble sleeping, consider avoiding alcohol.
- Watch your eating habits. Have dinner at least three hours before bedtime and cut back on late night snacks and heavy dinners.
- Recondition yourself to associate the bed and bedtime with sleeping. Go to bed only when you're sleepy. Don't read or watch TV in bed, so that over time you'll come to associate the bed with sleep and not with waking activities. If within 20 minutes of lying down you haven't fallen asleep, get up and do something else for a while. Try again later.
- Don't nap during the day. Daytime naps can disrupt normal sleep. If you must nap, do so for only 20-30 minutes. Any more time spent napping will confuse your body.
- Open the window. Ventilation and fresh air help you to breathe easier and fall asleep more quickly. A room temperature between 60?65 degrees provides the best sleeping conditions.
- Proper breathing is essential for relaxation. Deep breathing is relaxing and rejuvenating. All too often we breathe very shallowly, allowing the air to move no lower than our chest. Breathe with your diaphragm. With each breath, your stomach should move gently as if you're inflating and deflating a balloon. Full and deep breathing is one of the best ways to release tension and can help you fall asleep faster.
- Try progressive relaxation, a technique designed to reduce the muscle tension that accompanies stress. Lie down. Breathe in slowly and deeply. Concentrate on your body and note the places where you feel tense. Contact your toes for a count of three, then release. Repeat with your calves, and each of your major muscle groups, one by one. Move up to your thighs, stomach, arms, shoulders, neck, and move back down your body. After a few minutes, you'll feel much better!
Try a few (or all) of these tips and you'll be on your way to a good night's sleep. If your sleep difficulties last a month or more, then you should seek advice from your physician or mental health professional.