If you’re tossing and turning all night, hitting the snooze button more than once, then loading up on coffee in the morning, you might be among the many people wishing for a better night’s sleep. Sleep issues have become a common problem in our modern society. Over 68% of the UK population report that they have a bad night at least once a week and a quarter of them say that they experience poor sleep most nights. That’s a lot of missing sleep!
Maybe you’re wondering if you struggle with insomnia. How can you tell? The general definition of insomnia is that it’s an inability to fall asleep easily and/or stay asleep easily all night, even when you have a restful environment for sleep.
Everyone gets insomnia occasionally. Sometimes before a big test or important interview you might have trouble sleeping, and that’s pretty normal. But if you have issues sleeping on a regular basis, especially three or more nights per week, and if it’s been going on for months or even years, you probably have chronic insomnia.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the next day is usually pretty rough. You’ll typically feel drowsy, have trouble thinking clearly, have a hard time concentrating, and lack energy. You might even get irritable and angry easily, which doesn’t bode well for relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Chronic insomnia can also lead to serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
So how do you get back to sleep and move to a healthy sleep cycle? Here are some of the best tips to help you slumber peacefully all night, every night.
Top Tips for A Great Night’s Sleep
Tip 1 – Turn off the TV and all electronics an hour before bed. The blue light coming from the screens of your television and devices suppresses the release of melatonin with is an important hormone for sleep. Keep your electronics out of your bedroom, if you can, and definitely make sure all electronic lights are out at night. Most people don’t realise that using electronics before bed can affect their sleep. Consider removing your phone from your room and not using it for your alarm. If you must keep your phone in your bedroom, be sure to turn it on “Airplane Mode” and turn off the Wi-Fi.
Tip 2 – Take some time to relax before bed. Good choices for relaxing activities include meditating, reading a calming book, or listening to peaceful music. Make sure your pre-bedtime activities are relaxing and make you feel sleepy.
Tip 3- Exercise every day. It can help you sleep better at night, so make sure to include at least a brisk walk in your daily schedule. Just make sure you don’t exercise at night, as it can “amp” you up causing you to have a hard time settling down for sleep.
Take sleep promoting supplements and herbs. These include magnesium, melatonin, and valerian (a herbal tea). Try them out to see if they’ll work for you and adjust the dose as necessary. ( Look for a good holistic store or health shop for advice ).
Tip 4 – Create a dark bedroom. Your body takes cues from your environment, so your bedroom needs to be dark in order for your brain to believe that it’s time for sleep. Train your circadian rhythm again to get back to a healthy schedule by ensuring that your room is always dark. If you can’t make it pitch black, wear an eye mask to block out the remaining light.
Tip 5 – Find out what’s causing you stress. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time thinking about your worries while trying to fall asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night. Try writing a sleep journal right before bed to get it all out on paper, leaving your mind free to relax for the night.
Tip 6 – Review your pain relief. Are you taking unnecessary prescriptions? When was the last time you reviewed your daily / weekly intake of pain medication? Have you considered alternative therapies to manage your physical pain? When the body is stressed and/or in pain, it is much more difficult to relax and therefore sleep. Consider magnetic therapy (a magnetic eye mask also helps create the perfect calm and dark environment) hypnotherapy, Reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, Bowen technique, and aromatherapy using essential oils.
Tip 7 – Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine may be the cause of your insomnia, especially if you ingest it in the late afternoon or evening. Reduce your intake and keep it to a morning routine. Then you’ll give your body enough time to wind down in the evenings for rest. Alcohol is known cause of insomnia too. Consider your daily / weekly intake and make adjustments accordingly. Increase your hydration to at least 1.5 litres of still water per day. Try magnetising your water for maximum absorption and the right pH balance.
Create a bedtime routine. The human brain and our circadian rhythms love routine. By creating a routine, you’ll signal to your brain that sleep is coming soon. Keep to the same bedtime hours, if possible. After a while, you’ll notice your body is immediately triggered by the routine and starts to feel sleepy.
Tip 8 -Take a warm bath. Include it as part of your bedtime routine, adding in lavender essential oil to increase your sense of relaxation. Add in a little meditation and you’ll start to feel sleepy right away.
Tip 9 – Sip a cup of relaxing, warm tea. If you love tea, stock up on some that is known to promote relaxation, such as chamomile. An hour or so before bed, brew yourself a cup and sit in a calm place to sip on it. Make sure it’s caffeine free though. It might be a great thing to do whilst writing your sleep journal or taking a bath.
Tip 10 – Get help if you need it. If you’ve tried all these things and you’re still struggling to get to sleep, reach out to a holistic doctor, practitioner, or wellness coach. They can help you find out what is causing your insomnia, such as an imbalance of cortisol, adrenal, or other hormones. They can then help you find the solution to get back in balance and get back to sleep.