Insomnia is complicated and most people are struggling to sleep better. Most of us face sleeplessness sometime in our lives. We spend so many hours trying to doze off and get up refreshed next morning only to find ourselves feeling drained and fatigued.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, every one person out of three suffers from insomnia, mildly or strongly. If insomnia was considered a serious disease, it would have been the strongest epidemic to have ever hit the human race.
Most people do not take insomnia seriously until it creates more serious problems. Taking sleeping pills relieves the issue for a day only. In the long run, it harms more than it heals. Worse, the pills may stop working on you. Most importantly, any sleeping pill should only be taken after consulting a medical practitioner and the dosage should be strictly followed.
There are many ways to overcome sleeplessness without taking any medications. A change of diet and lifestyle has helped many insomniacs. The body and mind needs a good night’s sleep to function properly and hopefully these tips will help you sleep better.
How to get to sleep when you can’t
A number of things affect our sleep. It could be sleeping disorders (like bruxism and sleep apnoea), stress at work and personal life or depression. Sleep is a complex mechanism which involves many factors. The brighter side is that sleep is natural and so it happens effortlessly to us. If anything stops its natural course, it can be set right.
Our diet and lifestyle plays a major role in our sleeping patterns. Almost all villagers and farmers in India have no trouble in sleeping. The reason is that their body cycle is synced with the natural cycle of the day. They get up early and hardly ever go to sleep late. For us city dwellers, life becomes quite complex as we are dependent as a society when it comes to our timings. Our lives rotate around the jobs that we do. Naturally, we may keep awake till late at night and wake up later. This is the first cause of losing our natural sleep cycle.
The best way to overcome this is to set a routine for going to sleep. If you decide to go to sleep at 11 at night, do it every day, even if you are not feeling sleepy. Going to bed at a fixed time daily sets a signal for the body. Before you actually fall sleep, your body has to ‘shut down’ its other functions, which you need when you are active and awake. As the body gets a signal through your bio-clock that sleep time is here, it will relax automatically and calm your body down. This will make it easy for you to sleep better. This habit helps you to sleep when you can’t otherwise.
According to sleep expert Dr. Helene Emsellem, about 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia. Another study shows that women suffer more from stress and insomnia than men. Stress is one horrid factor that stops people to sleep better. If every night you try to get to sleep but you can’t, ask yourself – am I stressed? What is bothering you at the back of your mind? Sadly our modern lives are full of aspects that cause stress in us. Stress kills our sleep and hence weakens us. It leads our immunity to fall and our nervous system cannot function to its optimum. With sleeplessness and stress, our overall health goes downhill.
We could be stressed about our job, our family or money. It could arise from any traumatic experience, physical or emotional. Stress is a silent attacker and you probably do not realize how much of stress you are in. If you can, meditate before you go to bed. Just sit down and follow your breath. Do not go for any poses or mantras. The point is to calm the mind and body that has been running all day. Mindful breathing in silence is the best way to meditate before bedtime. Do it for at least five minutes and you will definitely sleep better.
Another effective way to beat stress and sleep better is to do a footsoak before bed. You can use cool water in the summer or warmer days. In winter do use warm water. In a bucket take enough water to soak till your ankles at least. Put your feet in the water and relax. You can also put some salt or a few drops of aromatherapy oil in the water. Sit for ten to fifteen minutes, and dry your feet with the towel. Go to bed after doing this footsoak.
Tips to help u sleep better
Sleep is natural phenomena of our body just like eating, digestion and breathing. It is effortless and if you are not sleeping well it means you are out of balance in some way. There are many helpful tips to help the body to sleep better. A good healthy body and a positive mind is the greatest asset and sleep plays a big role to have one. Here are some tips to help you sleep better at night and overall lead a healthy life –
# Walk barefoot in nature. If you can walk on grass, it is the best. Therapeutically it is called grounding or earthing the human body. Studies show that when we walk barefoot, there is ‘a surprisingly positive’ effect on the body. Grounding helps ‘direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth’. The paper found a ‘discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain’ when you spend time outdoors and close to nature. You can see the full paper here.
# Put your attention to more natural things instead of electronic devices. When you swap your cell phone’s screen at night it may seem very relaxing. However it has the opposite effect on the body. Not only does the flow of unnecessary information come into your brain, it is also bad for your eyes. The light of the screen is actually taking away your sleep. Do not let electronic devices rule your life. Tera yourself away. Instead make it a habit everyday to watch the trees and flowers. Look at the sky and listen to the birdsongs. Or simply, when you lay down to bed, listen to the sounds and the quietness of the night. This will relieve the nerves of your body and consequently make you sleep better.
# Wear cotton clothes. No matter what fashion says, cotton clothing is the most preferred choice for sleep. In fact, one must try to wear as much cotton clothing as possible. Cotton is one of the most natural fabrics and definitely the most comforting. Plus it is also good for the nature. Microfibres from nylons and such artificial fabrics do end up in our ecosystem causing much water pollution.
# Keep your room dark. While night lamps look great, the truth is a dark room is most conducive for a good night’s sleep. In fact, even a little light may disturb your sleep. However, deep sleepers are not generally affected by it but it does affect light sleepers. The presence of light keeps our brain active and stops us from sleeping deeply. At first it may take a few days to adjust to sleeping without lights but it will seem alright within a few days and you will definitely sleep better.
# Do not see violent or disturbing things before going to bed. Whatever we see or think of before going to bed, it stays within our minds and it may disturb our sleep. Avoid seeing anything on TV or device that shows violence, disturbance or resentment. After a hard day’s work your brain needs a dose of serenity, not hostility. TV series and even news can trigger stress in you. Instead go for the music you love or that calms you. Watch something that makes you feel good.
# Turn off any wireless. Turn off the Wifi and Bluetooth before you go to sleep. The vibrations emitted do cause disturbance in sleep. These should never be kept on while you are sleeping at night. Other than the vibrations, even the notifications and the sounds from the cell phone do alert a part of your brain, preventing deeper sleep. Your sleep is more valuable than you think. Sleep better, stay better.
Disclaimer – The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. One should definitely consult a doctor if we have inability to sleep well.
Credits: www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Insomnia.pdf, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90638364