We have all been there, those nights when you just cannot get off to sleep. It’s pretty natural when you have a big event coming up, when you have been unwell or when you are anxious that your natural sleep pattern can be thrown off for a few days, maybe even a few weeks.
In the short term the body and mind can cope with the limited sleep, but chronic insomnia, where you have little or poor quality sleep for weeks, months or even in some cases year is a different story.
The good news is that regardless of how long you have suffered from chronic insomnia that there is a way to create a good nights sleep for yourself, one that you can enjoy without the aid of pills or other props.
Here’s the thing that many people forget, that not sleeping is a habit. Perhaps created by circumstances beyond your control in the first instance but a habit that you can overcome with a little planning and practice.
10 Simple Steps to Secure a Good Nights Sleep
- Eat on time. Cut out all munching no later than 2- 3 hours before bed. Eating a heavy meal prior to bed practically guarantees a bad night’s sleep as your digestive plays catch up.
- Time Your Carbs. Eat smart carbohydrates in the evening. Remember to cut out the white breads, flours, rice, and potatoes and enjoy whole grains and starchy vegetables instead
- Ditch the diet. Eating too few calories or nutrients actually increases cortisol and wakes you up in the middle of the night. Follow a specific program that has been designed for you and your lifestyle if you need to shed weight.
- Write your worries down. One hour before bed, write down the things that cause you anxiety. Make plans for what you might have to do the next day to reduce your worry. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep.
- Befriend your circadian rhythm. Develop regular rhythms of sleep. Go to bed before 11p.m. and wake up at the same time each day even on the weekends, don’t try to “catch up” sleep by lying in at the weekend as this only serves to put your natural rhythm out of balance and creates more problems down the line
- Take a Cold Shower… When you sleep your core body temperature drops and so aids sleep, by supporting this through a cool shower or a quick stroll in the garden actually helps to mimic that natural cool core and so aids sleep.
- Let there be NO light. Create total darkness and quiet. The more your sleep is disturbed by light sources the lower your natural melatonin levels and the more disturbed sleeping patterns arise. Consider using eyeshades and earplugs.
- Avoid caffeine. A big cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage may seem to help you stay awake, but actually makes your sleep worse, so cut out the caffeine after lunchtime.
- Avoid alcohol. It might help you get to sleep, but alcohol creates interruptions in your sleep patterns and overall poor-quality sleep.
- Love that sunshine. Maximise daylight exposure for at least 15 minutes daily. The light from the sun enters your eyes and triggers your brain to release specific chemicals and hormones like melatonin that are vital to healthy sleep, mood, and ageing.
The key to a good nights sleep is consistency, if you want to improve the quality or quantity of your sleep then make a commitment to yourself for a period of two weeks, apply the 10 Simple Steps for a Good Nights Sleep and see for yourself how you can change the insomnia habit for good