You’re tired and it’s late, but you just can’t sleep. Your brain buzzes. Your mind wanders. Sleep evades. Or maybe you’ve fallen asleep at a decent time, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t seem to go back to sleep. That’s insomnia.
Certain Habits Can Lead to Insomnia
Sleep is a carefully balanced part of your body’s systems that can be thrown off kilter for a variety of reasons. Illness, stress, and other issues such as bad habits can and impact your ability to go to sleep and stay asleep at night.
Certain habits may be subversively undermining your ability to sleep—and you probably don’t even know it! Things that you eat or drink, the use of electronics, and other habits you participate in each day can make or break your ability to sleep well and wake up feeling rested.
For instance, stress can be a major contributor to lost sleep. If you find yourself working late at night, while in bed, your bed becomes a place of stress. When your brain begins to associate your bedroom with stress, lines are blurred and you may find yourself unable to sleep.
Drinking alcohol or caffeine can seriously inhibit your sleep, as can participating in smoking. Certain foods that cause indigestion can also create problems with sleeping and you can wake up with stomach problems or heartburn.
5 Habits that Prevent Insomnia
Creating new habits is one of the main ways that doctors suggest for battling insomnia. Sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”, certain simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference in how well you sleep, how long you sleep, and how you feel when you wake up.
Try out these five simple lifestyle changes to prevent insomnia in your life:
1. Promote Circadian Rhythms
Your body functions best when you train it to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Establishing circadian rhythms is critical for fighting insomnia. Even if you don’t have to work, it is important to set an alarm, wake up, and get out of bed at the same time each day. Once the habit is established, you may find that you no longer have to set an alarm because your body will naturally wake up. Going to bed at the same time each day is a vital part of this insomnia-fighting sleep habit.
2. Bedtime Routine
Getting your body and brain ready to go to sleep takes a bit of time. You can’t simply shut your laptop computer at 10:00pm and expect to be asleep at 10:05pm. You need to time for your brain and body to unwind, relax, and prepare for sleep. Stop working at least 2-3 hours prior to bedtime and take time to participate in relaxing activities. Take a warm bath, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to relaxing music. Get comfortable in your pajamas and lower the temperature in your bedroom to prepare for a good sleeping environment.
3. Cut Out Certain Substances
You may not realize how much certain substances are affecting your sleep. Alcohol may feel like it helps you to fall asleep, but it interrupts your REM sleep and is a major contributor to insomnia. Replace that glass of wine with a cup of warm herbal tea in the evening instead. Smoking and drinking caffeine are also sleep hijacking problems.
4. Turn Off the Screens
Blue light that radiates from computers, televisions, tablets, and smartphones may be stealing your sleep. Those lights are hyper-stimulating to the brain and cause it to work on overdrive rather than helping you to sleep. If you find yourself grabbing your phone to check social media because you can’t sleep, you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Turn those devices off at least two hours before bed to get the optimal sleep.
One of the keys to sleeping well is to make sure your body burns off energy during the day. Today’s culture of a sedentary lifestyle may be making it more difficult for your brain and body to realize that you need to sleep at night. Prevent insomnia by exercising at least three times per week (every day if you can). You don’t have to join a gym or start running marathons. Start by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk on your lunch hour. Begin walking or biking to work. The little things will add up to help you sleep well at night.
Start by adding these five habits into your normal routines to prevent insomnia. Sleep is a precious commodity that affects your physical health, your mood and relationships, and your ability to function at the top of your game mentally. Ensuring that you get enough sleep at night can make all the difference and help you live a better life!