Staying awake after having caffeine at night, or because you’re nervous about an upcoming work presentation is normal for everyone. However, when you find it hard to maintain a regular sleep pattern over a prolonged period of time, you may have insomnia. And chronic insomnia comes with a host of unfortunate side effects.
Living with insomnia is not only frustrating, but it’s also bad for your health. Lack of sleep affects your level of focus and concentration during waking hours, which can increase episodes of dizziness, the risk of injuries, and even car accidents. People prone to insomnia are five times more likely to experience depression and anxiety. The sleep deprived are also more likely to struggle with diabetes, congestive heart failure, and substance abuse.
So what can you do to help yourself get better sleep?
Start Waking Up at the Same Time Every Day
While sleeping in is tempting on a day off or over the weekend, one of the best ways to beat insomnia and get back to a regular sleep pattern is to start waking up at the same time each day. This trains your body to wake up at a consistent time, ensuring you remain asleep for longer.
Eliminate Caffeine, Alcohol or Nicotine
Drinking coffee, tea, alcohol, soda or energy drinks late in the evening can keep you from sleeping at night. The same is true for nicotine. These crutches might help you relax initially, but they can contribute to waking up through the night, resulting in poor quality of sleep.
Avoid the Wrong Foods Before Bedtime
Eating very heavy meals or spicy food close to your bedtime can affect your sleep quality. Have you dinner several hours before bedtime to give your body enough time to digest the food. When your digestive system is resting, you will rest better too.
Increase Your Melatonin Level
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain to control sleep cycles. Sometimes, insomnia can be caused by low levels of melatonin. Eating melatonin-rich foods, such as fish, eggs, milk, and nuts can help cure insomnia caused by jet lag, delayed sleep disorder, circadian rhythm disorders, and unusual working hours.
Getting your body active at least once a day reduces the stress hormone that may be keeping you awake at night. Regular exercising also promotes more restful, deeper sleep. Make sure you get your exercise in at least three hours before bedtime so that your body has enough time to relax from the heightened adrenaline, heart rate, and body temperature before you attempt to sleep.
Decrease the Level of Blue Light
Digital devices, including mobile phones, emit a blue wavelength light that keeps your mind alert, inhibiting melatonin production. As much as possible, turn off all your devices at least an hour before bedtime. This will reduce the light intensity recorded in the brain, which will signal the production of melatonin.
Remember to Relax
A few hours before bedtime, engage in activities that help you to relax. Warm baths, listening to music, reading, or meditating are all activities that can help you to relax and sleep better. Insomnia can often be treated by using cognitive behavioral therapy and taking thoughtful steps towards changing your lifestyle that will help you to improve sleep. If you’re having troubles with sleeping and it’s interfering with the quality of your life, don’t hesitate, talk to your doctor.