Everyone has experienced a terrible night’s sleep, but for some people, not sleeping well becomes a pattern. When that happens, it can be a real problem. In this article, we will look at nine tips to help you break the cycle of insomnia.
Stress is a significant contributor to insomnia. If you have insomnia, you’ve probably spent sleepless nights worrying about work, things you need to do, or stressful events.
Try engaging in relaxing activities to give your mind a chance to relax before you go to bed. Read a book, take a warm bath, or listen to soothing music. If you’re worried about things you need to do, write a to-do list before you go to bed so you can offload worries and clear your mind.
Humans are supposed to come with a natural body clock synced to the rising and falling of the sun. If you want to get your sleep cycle back on track, setting up a consistent schedule is crucial, as it gives your body the chance to anticipate and prepare for sleep. Start by waking up at the same time every day – even on the weekends and when you’ve slept badly.
This can sound counterintuitive; after all, why deny yourself sleep? But getting up later will only make sleeping harder in the evening, setting you back to square one. In the short term, this might mean less time in bed, but in the long run, it will set you up to break the cycle of insomnia.
Creating a calm environment can help you unwind and relax when it’s time to sleep. Keep temperatures between 16 °C and 18 °C. Reduce clutter so your room feels calm, and only use your bedroom for traditionally bed-based activities – no TVs or laptops in the bedroom.
Our bodies are naturally programmed to sleep in the dark. Use blackout curtains or blinds to block outside light, and consider dimming lights before bedtime.
Similarly, the blue light emitted by TVs, phones, tablets, and computers can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone essential for sleep, sending your body clock out of sync.
Try to avoid these devices at least an hour before bed. Even try setting your alarm on your phone earlier, so you don’t have to use it before bed, and avoid checking it at night, too.
If you have insomnia, you probably know that horrible feeling of counting the hours until you get up. But fixating on the time increases stress and makes it harder to sleep. Turn the clock away or place it out of view if you find yourself checking it.
Eating a healthy diet is always a good idea, and getting your five a day will certainly help you get a good night’s sleep. However, some foods, such as milk, yogurt, oats, chicken, and bananas, are particularly good at helping you get to sleep. That’s because they contain tryptophan and serotonin – chemicals your body uses to create the hormones you need to get to sleep.
Conversely, avoid heavy, spicy meals, caffeine, alcohol, and sugary snacks before bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep.
Sleep quality is as important as how long you sleep. Only go to bed when you’re sleepy, and if you don’t drift off within 20 minutes, get up, read a book, listen to a podcast, and try again when you feel tired.
Disruptions during the night can also prevent you from reaching the deeper, restorative stages of sleep. Limit fluid intake before bed to reduce nighttime awakenings, and avoid turning on lights or checking your phone if you do wake up.
Insomnia can be debilitating if you can’t break the cycle. If these tips don’t help get you back into a regular sleep pattern, please don’t hesitate to contact your local GP or book an online private GP appointment to see what help is available.