November 08, 2016
Insomnia plagues about one out of every three people in the United States and is the most common sleep complaint.
For some people, it’s a brief problem that lasts as little as one night, while for others, it’s chronic (a persistent lack of sleep for at least two months). Sleep is essential in order to function properly and insomnia can cause an inability to focus, poor memory, depression, and more.
So how do you beat this dreaded sleep depriver? This potentially life-controlling disorder can actually be eliminated in five simple steps:
Do you exercise before bed and struggle to hit the hay? It’s because you’re suffering from “ Post-Workout Insomnia.” Working out right before bed can give you a rush of adrenaline, which in return hinders you from falling asleep.
It is also possible for your body to mistakenly attribute the physical effects of your workout – increased heart rate and shortness of breath—to anxiety. Our mind isn’t perfect and often misinterprets the cause of our physiological symptoms.
Sleeping pills are not a sustainable solution to rid insomnia. As we continue to take a sleeping pill, we develop a higher tolerance for the pill, causing us to need an increasingly higher dose until we are immune to it.
This is especially true for melatonin. In fact, melatonin is best used for circadian rhythm disorder, not insomnia.
It’s tempting to stay on your phone catching up on Netflix before you fall asleep (if you’re reading this before bed right now, it may not help you tonight), but staying up late on technology can hinder your sleep.
According to the New York Times, “ when we’re exposed to artificial light, between dusk and bedtime, our bodies are blocked from being able to recognize day from night .” The blue light from screens stimulates your brain to make it think it’s still daytime.
The solution to this? Turn off your phone, laptop, and any other type of screen no less than two hours before bedtime. This way, your brain produces melatonin sooner, as it realizes it is nighttime. Additionally, some phones allow you to turn on a filter that blocks blue light! You can even set a timer on your phone so the blue light automatically shuts off at a certain time every night.
Do you struggle to sleep in your own bed but have little trouble falling asleep in a bed that isn’t yours? This is because your mind has been conditioned to see your bed as a stimulus that keeps you awake.
The most effective form of treatment for Insomnia is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). One of the ways CBT aims to recondition our mind is to dissociate the bed with anything other than sleep or sex. When we hang out in bed to read or watch T.V., our mind becomes conditioned to remain awake in the bed. An effective way to recondition your mind to is to create a cozy space in your room where you can hang out to do what you would otherwise do in your bed.
Don’t waste time tossing and turning. If you’ve been trying to sleep for at least 20 minutes, you should get out of bed. Get up and do something without electronics, because they’ll just make your insomnia worse.
Go into another room and forget about sleep, because the constant frustration of not being able to fall asleep will keep you up. Make sure to keep the lights low and when you feel sleepiness coming on, then you can get back into bed.
Insomnia is a frustrating disorder, especially if your schedule requires you wake up early. But fear not, since these simple adjustments to your sleeping habits can lead to your long-awaited sleep-filled nights.