Many of us struggle to sleep at night. It is a universal problem that dramatically affects people’s quality of life. Without a good night’s sleep, we can experience dizziness, drowsiness, mental fog, exhaustion, attention span deficits, memory loss, headaches, issues with eyesight, and so much more.
Trying to go about your day without being fully rested is miserable and detrimental to your health in the long run. Insomnia is a serious issue, however, there are a few ways you can try to help it without medical intervention (if chronic please consult a professional). Here are a few of the techniques on how to survive a toxic relationship with sleep.
Create a Sleep Schedule
The most common symptom of insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, only with great difficulty. One way to combat this is to create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. This schedule should consist of a bedtime and a wake time. If you are consistent with what time you go to bed and what time you wake up, it can develop into a habit, just like most things that you do consistently.
In the beginning, it will be difficult and you will have a lot of trouble falling asleep. You shouldn’t give up. Once you get used to waking up at a certain time your body’s natural rhythms will kick in and begin getting tired in time to compensate for having to wake up.
One of the greatest aids to insomnia is the use of technology. The problem here is that we are all addicted to technology. When we use our phones, laptops, or televisions before going to bed, we irritate our eyes and overwhelm our brains with constant movement, brightness, and information. This inhibits us from being able to relax and be ready for bed.
Instead of watching a movie, a TV show, or browsing through social media right before bed, try reading or writing instead. By turning off your gadgets about an hour or two before bed and reading a book instead helps you fall asleep in many ways. The harsh light from our screens won’t irritate the eyes and reading will tire out both your eyes and brain, lulling you to sleep.
A large contributor to the rising rates of insomnia is the fact that most of us are unable to tire out our bodies throughout the day. Most of us barely get any exercise during the day. Our circadian rhythm depends mainly on our inner clock, light and dark, and energy levels. Due to most of us working by sitting at a desk all day looking at our computers we are unable to channel the high levels of energy most healthy adults possess.
Since we cannot get to a place where we physically feel tired by the end of the night, we are unable to fall asleep. This is easily counteracted by exercising during the day. Whether you exercise in the morning or after work, doesn’t really matter. The point is to channel the excess energy so our bodies are ready for bed by nighttime.
Also, it is not necessary to reach the point of complete physical exhaustion by working out for hours, it is more than enough to have a short workout routine of 20 – 30 minutes every day. This way, you don’t push your body too hard, but give your energy somewhere to go so it doesn’t hit you while you’re trying to sleep.
Darkness and Soundless
It is very important to create a good environment to sleep in. The ideal setting is a dark, quiet, and comfortable place. As mentioned before, one of the factors that can manipulate our circadian rhythm is light. I am sure you have noticed that our eyelids let light translucent, meaning, they let light through. If you close your eyes during the day, it is not complete darkness.
This translucency is one of the ways our bodies know to naturally wake up in the morning. Our ancestors used to rise and wake with the sun; when the sun went down, they went to sleep, and when the sun came up, they woke up. If your bedroom is nice and dark at night, your body will recognize that it is time to fall asleep.
Another factor to take into consideration is making sure that you are in a quiet environment. Noises will keep you up and wake you up if you have fallen asleep. It is incredibly frustrating and disruptive to try sleeping in a noisy setting. Even though our bodies are able to get used to noise over time, it is far more advantageous to get a full night’s rest when it is quiet.
One Hour Rule
There is a common rule of thumb when it comes to training yourself to fall asleep; the one hour rule. This means that at least one hour before bed you should not engage in any activities and focus on relaxing and getting to a state of calmness and restfulness. During this hour before bed, you should take a hot bath or shower, read a book, listen to relaxing music, or meditate.
You definitely should not work, exercise, clean, cook, go out, or do anything that gets your brain and body going. This hour is purely for relaxation purposes. Most people don’t even last the entire time and find themselves falling asleep during this hour.
We all like taking naps. It is like a short burst of rejuvenation for our bodies. While it seems like a good way to catch up on sleep, it actually is very disruptive to your natural sleep cycle.The key to helping insomnia is sticking to a consistent schedule and training your body to go to sleep. When we take naps we automatically violate the consistency of a bedtime and wake time, throwing off our system.
If you start to feel tired and have the urge to take a nap, try to do something productive instead. If that doesn’t work, the best way to wake yourself up is by doing a short burst of physical activity. For example, doing a few jumping jacks, or running in place for a short time will do the trick.
No Work in the Bedroom
Finally, this is a very common issue today. Many of us tend to work in our bedrooms if we don’t have a home office. This is very counterproductive because we are creating mental associations between our bedroom and work. This makes it very difficult to relax in that room and fall asleep, the same way it is difficult to fall asleep in your office.
The idea is to limit the activities you do in bed. Besides sleep and sex, there isn’t much else you should be doing in bed. By cutting out all these other activities, you will find it is much easier to relax and fall asleep.
Resilience and persistence are skills that come with overcoming insomnia are great skills to have when working on making a resume stand out. Any one of these techniques will help you combat your insomnia, however, for the best results that are almost guaranteed to work (if not, consult a professional), combine all of the aforementioned techniques. Happy sleeping!