Hate the feeling of being tired all day and then when it’s actually time to go to sleep suddenly you’re not tired anymore? This happens to most of us at times! It’s like all day your brain is telling you that you’re tired, but once you get to bed that’s when all the thoughts and ideas begin and sleep is the last thing you’re able to do. Whether you find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake early feeling unrefreshed and have low energy, low mood and find it hard function - you probably have insomnia.
Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, but there are a number of reasons why someone can have insomnia such as; stress, anxiety, depression, health issues, lifestyle and the environment you’re in. The issue causing the insomnia differs from person to person and therefore treatment would differ too. It could be something as simple as having too much caffeine during the day or before bedtime, or having poor sleep hygiene (habits and practices that are related to sleeping well on a regular basis). However, it could also be due to a complex issue like an underlying medical condition or feeling stressed out due to things going on in your life. Whatever the reason is, the good news is, insomnia can be treated.
Seven things that you can do to help beat insomnia (naturally):
Make your sleeping environment comfortable and ‘designed’ for sleep.
Ensure your bedroom is dark, noise-free, and the temperature is set at an ideal for you (not too hot and not too cold). If you are a light sleeper, having some good blinds or curtains that completely cover the light from coming through the windows would be beneficial. Also, using earplugs to block out noises, and a good mattress is important (especially if sharing a bed).
Eliminate (or decrease) stimulants for the day.
It could be hard to completely cut out that morning coffee that most of us love to have, however, limiting the amount of coffee or time the last coffee is consumed can help the reduce the effects it has at night. Similarly, many people love to have a cup of tea before bed, at times forgetting that some teas have as much caffeine as coffee! Alcohol is another important stimulant to try avoid or have in moderation. Alcohol may have a sedative effect initially, but then it can lead to frequent arousals and a non-restful night's sleep.
Naps can seem like a good idea, especially if you are sleep deprived and want to catch up. But, napping during the day can limit your ability to sleep at night. Being able to establish and maintain a regular sleep pattern by going to sleep at the same time, and associating darkness with sleep is helpful - taking a nap can throw the body off.
Going from the point before - Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Work with your body-clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help you maintain a sleep pattern and get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Switch off all devices about an hour before bedtime/sleep.
Turning off any type of screens, such as your phone, laptop, or television can help with feeling sleepy. The reason for this is, electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts the body’s production of melatonin, resulting in feeling not sleepy. So rather than watch TV, play games or scroll through social media on your phone, try engage in another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to calm music or a podcast.
Leave your worries behind… for the night.
Labelling your bedroom as a place of no worries and deciding that worrying can take place elsewhere can allow you to associate your room and bed as a time to rest. If it helps, allocating a specific time a couple of hours before bed to get all your worries out and then allocate a time the next day to continue worrying can be useful.
Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques
If you still find you are having difficulty sleeping, this may be due to other underlying problems. It would be best to explore these with a health professional in order to choose the correct treatment.
If you or a loved one are experiencing sleep difficulties due to stress or anxiety, give us a call to make an appointment with one of our team of Psychologists. Our team at Melbourne Wellbeing Group thrives on promoting the mental health and wellbeing of people of all ages.