Insomnia is defined as habitual sleeplessness or the inability to sleep, but anyone who has suffered from it, would say that’s putting it mildly. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a living hell.
There are numerous causes of insomnia including: chronic pain, acid reflux, allergies, hyperthyroidism, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, caffeine and drug use, and unhealthy sleep habits. All of these can inhibit someone’s ability to get into a deep, restorative REM sleep and stay there throughout the night.
After identifying and treating any medical conditions that are contributing to insomnia, the next thing I do with my patients is optimize their sleep habits. It’s amazing what a difference creating a healthy nighttime routine can make in getting a great night’s sleep, and feeling vital the next day.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep & prevent insomnia:
1. Block out all light from your bedroom windows – light disturbs your sleep/wake cycle. Black-out blinds are great for this.
2. Remove all phones, computers, and TVs from your bedroom. Computers and phones emit a wireless signal that has been shown to disrupt our nervous system. If you use your mobile phone as an alarm then make sure it’s set to “airplane mode.”
3. Don’t eat after 7.30pm and make your last meal high in protein and low in carbohydrates/sugar. If you need a little snack before bed have a handful of nuts or sunflower seeds. They will help stabilize your blood sugar overnight.
4. Shut down all stimulating activity one hour before bed: TV, computer, heated discussions etc. The stimuli from TVs and computers is a message to our brain to stay alert & awake which is the last thing you want when you’re trying to fall asleep.
5. Sleep in the nude. That’s right, I said it….go au natural. Your body temperature naturally decreases at night as part of your circadian rhythm regulation. Wearing pajamas or a t-shirt to bed prevents the body temperature from declining which disrupts sleep patterns and can contribute to insomnia.
6. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. It will maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle and train your mind and body to be more alert when you are awake.
7. If your mind is active when you lay down for the night, keep a note pad beside your bed. You can quickly jot down your thoughts and clear your mind.