Many people have problems falling asleep, or they wake up in the nighttime. If this happens every now and then, that’s ok – but if this is something that you have to deal with on a regular basis, then it’s time to do something about it. Sleep is an essential element of good health. There is no one perfect insomnia cure, but many steps that you can take to assure you better sleep.
First of all, realize that sleep is not simply “not being awake”. Sleeping is a complex process – and while it’s true that we aren’t consciously aware of most of it, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. The more we learn about the science of sleep, the more we discover the mysterious complexities of slumberland.
Sleep is important for a properly functioning immune system, creativity and mental alertness. It also affects your moods and emotions.
It’s kind of symptomatic of our times that we often try to find ways to get along with a minimum amount of sleep. Many people try to come up with methods that allow them to sleep only 5 hours a day, or even less. It’s true that they gain a couple of extra hours a day this way in their waking state. But they miss out on something much more fundamental: the joyful experience of healthy, revigorating sleep.
But since you are reading this, you are probably already aware of the importance of sleep. You want to get more of it. So what can you do?
The most common cause of insomnia are the thoughts insomniacs entertain in their minds. It’s a kind of mental restlessness that’s keeping them from falling asleep.
Our bodies are naturally hardwired to fall asleep during nighttime, and in fact that is what happens if there are no disruptions. It’s not that insomniacs aren’t sleepy – they’re just too distracted by disruptions to be able to follow that impulse.
One approach to cope with this out-of-control thought-clutter is to ask yourself: what’s going on in my mind now? And just focus your attention on being aware of what you’re doing in your mind.
And then simply allow yourself to watch your thoughts. And let go of the thoughts, trust in the ability of your subconscious mind to bring these thoughts and ideas up again during the course of the next day at just the right time, when your mind is fresh and alert.
This surely isn’t the usualy insomnia advice. But it’s something well worth trying.
There are other things you can do of course:
If you have sleep problems and your bed isn’t comfortable, it might be worth to invest a bit more in the right mattress, pillow and blanket. (You can often notice the biggest change in comparison to dollar spent in your pillow by the way!)
The Right Timing
You’re body is a creature of habit. Going to sleep every night at the same time and getting up every day at the same hour helps your body to easy into sleep and wake up refreshed easier.
Make sure that the room you sleep in is completely dark. Because if it’s not dark, your body isn’t producing as much melatonin as it could (and should). Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced in your brain, and it is a very important hormone for many reasons: partly because it’s involved in regulating other mechanisms in your body, partly because it’s an important antioxidant to protect your body from cancer.
It also helps you if you dim down the lights already an hour before going to bed – it’s easy to just switch of the light, but our bodies need some time to adjust to the changed environment. For most of human existence, people were in sync with the natural rhythms of nature and experienced how the daylight slowly faded away during sunset. Nowadays we are often exposed to multiple bright light sources, and then just switch them of and lay down to sleep in a dark room and wonder why we don’t fall asleep within 5 minutes.
Charge Up Light
Interestingly it’s also important to get enough (good) light during the daytime. “Good” light is not the light that your lightbulb emits – it’s natural sunlight. If you worry about harmful effects of UV then get your sunlight before 10am or after 3pm when the sunlight isn’t as intense.
There’s such a thing as a “perfect temperature” for sleeping as well, and that’s about 16-20°C (60-70° Fahrenheit). Use a good blanket to make sure you don’t feel cold, but don’t sweat at night either.
Many studies have shown that people who are active during the daytime experience better sleep than people who live sedentary lifestyles. The best time of the day to be physically active is early in the day.
Sounds and noises can disrupt your sleep and make it hard to fall asleep. If you can, make sure that you have a quiet bedroom. If that’s not possible try earplugs, or use white noise to cover up other sounds.
Many people get up often during the night because they have to urinate. If this is true for you, try not to drink a lot before going to sleep, particurly alcoholic beverages, coffee or tea.
As with many problems, pills are an conveniently easy fix. But as in many cases too, the “easy fix” is not a good solution. There are many problems associated with sleeping medication: not only is there a high risk of addiction (because of a tolerance your body builds up quite quickly to the substances), but you’re pretty much sedating yourself not just for the nighttime, but also for the daytime. Most sleeping medication contains Benadryl. These kinds of medication usually have an 18-hour-halflife – so if you take a pill at 10pm, you’ll still be under it’s influence by 4pm the next day.
Another problem is that medication for insomnia reduces the quality of your sleep. Yes, you do get a bit more quantity, but it’s low-quality sleep, lacking the important REM-sleep phases.
There are many kinds of relaxation exdercises: meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, dream journeys, just going for a walk, and so on. Pick one that you like and stick with it, make it part of your daily routine, preferably in the evening or nighttime.
Hypnosis can be a very effective way to cope with the various aspects of insomnia. To learn more the hypnotic insomnia cure click here.