Insomnia is a medical condition that can have a powerful impact on your life. Whether you have occasional insomnia or chronic insomnia, the effects can seriously diminish your quality of life.
Those who suffer from insomnia are more likely to struggle to concentrate during the day. They are more likely to be in car accidents due to sleepiness. Their personal and professional relationships are more likely to suffer as a result of their lack of sleep.
Around half of all adults will experience some form of insomnia at some point in their lives. The prevalence of the condition might make you assume that the medical world has a lot of answers to this problem, but this sadly isn’t the case.
Insomnia can be caused by so many different things, so there isn’t a catch-all treatment for it. Instead, you will need to take a trial and error approach to dealing with insomnia.
In this article, we will look at some popular remedies for insomnia which may help you to cope with this difficult condition.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling or staying asleep. Acute insomnia is when you have an occasional bout of sleeplessness which often goes away on its own. Chronic insomnia is when you struggle to sleep more than three nights per week for over three months. See out the past infographic here.
There are also descriptions for the type of insomnia. Onset insomnia means that you struggle to fall asleep. Maintenance insomnia means that you struggle to stay asleep. This could mean that you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Or it might mean that you wake up earlier than you would like to.
And finally, there is also a condition known as comorbid insomnia. This means that your insomnia is linked to another condition such as depression, chronic pain or anxiety.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
The main symptom of insomnia is an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. However, there are wider issues which may affect you. Being unable to sleep at night will have a knock on effect on your whole day. These symptoms can include:
- Poor performance at work or school
- Increased chance of being in an accident by driving while tired
- Irritability and mood swings
- Poor relationships with friends and family
- Poor coordination
What starts out as being unable to sleep can quickly compound into a number of different conditions. And these conditions can also make it more difficult to sleep at night, which can compound the problem.
In order to break the cycle of symptoms and sleeplessness, there are a few methods you can try. Resorting to sleeping pills might offer a short term solution, but this is not viable in the long term. Many sleeping pills will also have unpleasant side effects which you will want to avoid. If you’re ready to put an end to your insomnia in 2020, try the following methods.
Change your diet
Your diet can have a huge impact on your quality of sleep. If certain foods are to blame, following an elimination diet can help to identify the culprit. Otherwise, you could simply try to avoid popular triggers including fatty foods, spicy foods and dairy products.
While tiredness might make you want to reach for the junk food for a quick rush of energy, this will have the opposite effect. Sugary foods might make you feel better for a short time but you will soon crash.
Instead, focus on getting a healthy mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Make up your meals from whole foods instead of reaching for processed versions
There are also foods you can try that are supposed to help you sleep. Fatty fish, almonds, cherry juice and turkey have all been linked to improved sleep. While a small glass of wine might help you to wind down it makes it harder to fall asleep.
Get up at the same time every day
When sleep is hard to come by, it can be tempting to try to get some any way possible. It’s important that you enforce a strict schedule and stick to it. Get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every day.
This will help your body to establish a rhythm and learn when it is time to be alert and when it is time to sleep. If you allow yourself to sleep in because you think you need the sleep, it will be harder to fall asleep the next night.
This is particularly important at the weekend. If you have been dragging yourself out of bed for work all week, it can be tempting to use the weekend to catch up on sleep. But think about the knock on effect this will have on Sunday night when you are struggling to fall asleep again.
Cut out naps
Similar to the point above, when you are suffering from insomnia, daytime naps can actually make things worse. By allowing yourself short bouts of sleep during the day, you will make it more difficult to sleep at night.
If you are accustomed to having a nap every day, cutting them out entirely can be difficult. This is why you should go to be a little earlier on the first night you cut out the naps. Hopefully, your sleep debt will allow you to drift off to sleep without any issues.
If you cannot get by without a nap during the day, make sure that it doesn’t last longer than 20 minutes. Any longer and you could risk upsetting your sleep patterns. A 20 minute nap should be enough to help you to feel refreshed and more alert. But be wary about letting this disrupt your sleep at night time.
Try natural remedies
From chamomile tea to CBD oil, there are plenty of natural remedies for you to try. Try sipping herbal tea with ingredients like lavender, chamomile or valerian root. Supercharge your tea by adding a few drops of water soluble CBD One Absorb products.
CBD oil is one of the latest health food supplement trends making the rounds. The good news is that this one actually seems to work. CBD oil interacts with your endocannabinoid system which is responsible for biological systems in your body such as appetite and sleep cycles. Healthline offers a fantastic overview of what is sleep insomnia and how CBD can help.
You can also find melatonin supplements which can help to restore your sleep patterns. Melatonin is the hormone which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Those with insomnia may find that they don’t have enough of it. You can find melatonin supplements in most health food shops and pharmacies.
Always check with a doctor before using melatonin supplements as it could interact with other medicines you are taking. You should also be aware that melatonin supplements can make symptoms of depression worse, among other side effects. If your insomnia is the result of jet lag, taking melatonin supplements can help to “reset” your body clock.
Create a bedtime routine
Insomnia can make you want to throw any idea of routine out of the window. It can become very frustrating to lie in bed night after night completely unable to sleep. Despite this, it’s important that you still stick to a routine every single night.
Everyone’s routine will be different, but you should aim to stop using your phone, watching TV or listening to the radio about one hour before bed. This is because these activities will make your brain more alert and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Once you develop a routine, your body will start to learn the signs that it is time to go to sleep. So, turn off the TV, get into your comfiest pyjamas, brush your teeth and get ready for a calm and relaxing night.
If you find that stress is keeping you awake, try to find the time at the end of the day to reflect on everything and make a list for the next day. This will help you to put your worries to one side at the end of the day and stop you from taking them to bed with you.
Ditch the TV
Your bed should be for sex and sleeping. Don’t check your phone, pay your bills, reply to emails or even listen to the radio in bed. And if you have a TV in your bedroom, now might be a good time to think about relocating it.
Having a TV in your room and getting into the habit of watching TV before bed can keep your brain active when you want it to be powering down. The blue light in the screen also mimics the light from the sun, which can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Focus on making your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. So, invest in some blackout curtains, use a sound machine to drown out the noises from the street, and make sure your bed is comforting and welcoming.
Stop eating a few hours before bed
At the end of the evening, it’s common to head to the kitchen cupboards for a quick snack. Usually, this is because we are bored, not because we are hungry. If possible, try to avoid having heavy late night meals. You should also avoid eating within a few hours of going to bed.
Some people believe that fasting is the key to restful sleep. Fasting for 16 hours can help to increase your quality of sleep.
So, if you have your evening meal at 6pm, you wouldn’t eat again until 10am.
This is really just another way to bring structure to your day and allow your body to find its own rhythm.
Get more exercise
The last thing you will want to do when you are sleep deprived is head to the gym. But this could be the best place for you. Exercise can help you to control stress, burn excess calories and fatigue your body. If you’ve ever done any kind of activity to the point of being physically exhausted, you’ll know how good it feels to fall into bed at the end of the day.
You don’t have to go overboard, but if your insomnia has kept you away from the gym and disrupted your workout schedule, it could be a good idea to force yourself back into it. Don’t push yourself too hard. A light jog or a gentle swim should be enough to get your heart rate up and release some much-needed endorphins.
Take control of your anxiety
Stress is often one of the underlying causes of insomnia. If you struggle with stress, anxiety or depression, sadly insomnia is likely to be part of that package. And what’s worse is that insomnia can make these issues even worse.
The first step is to identify the source of your stress. Next, you will need to determine if this is a kind of stress you will just have to deal with, or if it’s something you can resolve. Work is often a major culprit when it comes to stress. Finding ways to reduce your workload or even just leaving your work in the office can help to alleviate stress.
Meditation can be very useful too. This does not have to be an onerous task that takes an hour. Simple apps like Buddhify give user friendly guided meditations that take as little as five minutes and can calm your body to prepare for sleep.
Make time for yourself
Make sure that you take the time to care for yourself in whatever way is meaningful to you. For some people, this means letting loose at the weekend and seeing their friends. For others, it could mean going for a long walk. Others might turn to meditation or yoga for their source of self care.
When you are struggling with insomnia, it can make it difficult to make plans. You might be afraid that you will have to cancel or that you’ll be too tired to do anything. Try to make plans anyway as it can help you to manage your stress and anxiety.
These are just some of the methods you can try to take control of your insomnia in 2020. While not an exhaustive list, it offers those suffering from insomnia a starting point to take control of their condition.