Sleeping is supposed to be easy – but if you have insomnia, it’s anything but. Tossing and turning at night can make it hard to function during the day, and you can easily find yourself getting stressed out about not sleeping, which can lead to a vicious cycle in which your stress keeps you awake and your inability to sleep increases your stress.
But you’re not helpless to get better sleep. Sure, it can seem like a project, but it’s well worth putting in the extra work to improve your sleep and by extension, your health. Follow these steps to get the good sleep you need to tackle your busy days.
If you’ve had kids, you probably know that a bedtime routine can help them sleep better. It works the same way for adults. A bedtime routine tells your brain and body that it’s time to start winding down for sleep.
Start your bedtime routine 30 minutes to two hours before you go to bed. Put down your phone, turn off your TV, and log out of your devices. Artificial blue light can mess up your circadian rhythm, and using devices close to bedtime can leave your brain seeking stimulation when it should be relaxing for sleep.
Your bedtime routine should include a series of calming activities. You can eat a small bedtime snack if it helps you sleep. Drink a warm mug of herbal tea, like chamomile. Meditate or do a relaxation exercise. Read a book or listen to some soothing music. Just make sure you don’t do anything stimulating, like exercise, right before bed, and do the same activities every night to maximize the efficacy of your bedtime routine.
There are only two things you should ever do in your bed: sleep and have sex. Keep your room cool and dark during sleep – wear a sleep mask if you have to. Make sure your bed is comfortable and either minimize noise, or use a white noise machine or fan to drown out excessive ambient noise. In a pinch, you can play a fan video on YouTube.
Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Don’t sleep in, even on your days off. If you need to catch up on sleep, take a nap during the day – but if napping makes it hard for you to sleep at night, skip it.
The most effective sleep support supplements on the market combine cannabidiol (CBD) and melatonin, a natural sleep hormone. Melatonin helps you fall asleep, and CBD helps you stay asleep and can relieve feelings of stress and anxiety that might result from insomnia. CBD has been found to be safe for long-term use, and most people tolerate it well.
When you get up in the morning, get some sunlight on your face as soon as possible to signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. Get plenty of natural light during the day to help reset your circadian rhythms.
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The blue light from screens can throw off your circadian rhythms and make it hard to sleep, so put down your phone and turn off your tablets and laptops a couple of hours before bed. Don’t watch TV late at night, either.
Daily exercise can help you sleep more soundly at night, and gives you more energy during the day. Get outside in the sunlight for a walk as many days as possible. Even light exercise during the day can improve the quality of your sleep, but the more vigorous your workout, the better you’ll sleep. Refrain from exercising within three hours of bedtime, though, so your body has time to relax before sleep. Stick to restorative yoga and gentle stretching before bed.
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats can help you sleep better. Refined carbs and sugar can keep you awake at night and can interfere with your sleep cycle. Caffeine can affect your sleep up to 12 hours after you drink it, so avoid caffeine unless you’re having breakfast. Smoking cigarettes or vaping nicotine close to bedtime can also keep you awake.
Avoid eating large meals right at bedtime, but have a small snack if you have trouble sleeping on an empty stomach. Skip the nightcap – alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle. Avoid drinking too many liquids before bed, lest you find yourself waking to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Coping with insomnia can really take a toll on a person, but you can make reasonable changes that will help you sleep better. Make the effort to improve your sleep quality, and feel the benefits in every part of your life.