Tips for Dealing with Insomnia

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Woman lying in bed suffering from insomnia

As a busy person, you likely have lots on your mind. Demands on your time can be excessive, and sometimes worries about various matters can get overwhelming. All these things can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. If you struggle with insomnia, read the five tips below to help you get a better night’s sleep.

  1. Maintain a regular schedule.

Try to wake up and go to sleep at around the same time every day, including weekends. If you go to bed late, try to wake up at your usual time the next morning. Your body has a circadian rhythm or diurnal cycle, meaning that certain hormones kick in at certain times of the day.

For example, cortisol, a stress hormone, is highest in the morning when you wake up and lowest at night when you go to sleep. Respecting and following your body’s natural rhythm will help you get a better night’s sleep.

  1. Make time to unwind before bed.

Sleep is not a switch that can be turned on and off. Start unwinding a minimum of one hour before you plan on going to bed. Do activities that you find relaxing, such as reading, yoga, listening to relaxing music, or drinking a cup of herbal tea.

It is best to do these activities somewhere other than in the bedroom so that the bedroom is used only for sleep. Make this unwinding time part of your regular routine.

  1. Avoid screens.

During your unwinding period, avoid using devices that have screens, such as computers, TVs, and smartphones. Because of their brightness, they are stimulating to the brain and trick the brain into thinking it is still daylight. The brain can’t relax, which makes it harder for it to prepare for sleep.

  1. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.

Drink your last cup of coffee no later than six hours before bedtime. That’s how long it takes the effects of caffeine to wear off. Drink your last alcoholic beverage two hours before bedtime. Recent research shows that, even though drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep more quickly, you are more likely to awaken at night and to have less restful sleep, so alcohol can make your insomnia worse.

  1. Don’t lie in bed awake.

If you’re lying in bed and still can’t sleep after 20 minutes, the best thing to do is get up and go to a different room. Stay up until you feel sleepy again, and then go back to bed. Sleep comes in cycles, like a bus. If you miss the first bus, wait for the next one.

If you’ve tried these five tips and they haven’t helped you to get a better night’s sleep, it may be time to seek professional help. Before taking sleeping pills, talk to a naturopathic doctor about what herbs and/or supplements you can take to help you relax and sleep soundly without feeling groggy the next day.

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