Adults need an average of seven to nine hours sleep each night in order to function properly during the day. Insomnia is sleep disorder characterised by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for as long as desired, without the presence of an underlying problem like sleep apnoea or depression. It is thought that up to one in three people will suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives.
Severe sleep deprivation can have a significant and detrimental effect on the health. Insomniacs are four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, more likely to have a serious illness, more likely to have an accident at work, home, or on the road, and are more likely to miss work and have lower productivity than well-rested colleagues.
If you’re reading this whilst stressing about the prospect of yet another sleepless, unfulfilling night tonight then read on and follow some of these natural remedies and lifestyle changes that could help you to get the restful sleep you need…
Set a sleep routine
Try to get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekend. It might take a few weeks or more before your body and brain get used to what’s going on but try to stick with it and you should hopefully start to notice yourself getting tired at the same time in the evening and naturally rising at the same time each morning.
Cut down on caffeine
If you’ve suffered with insomnia for a while you might have come to rely on caffeinated drinks to keep you going throughout the day, but these could actually be worsening your situation. One or two cups in the morning is fine, but after noon you should say no to caffeine. Try it for a couple of weeks, in line with your new sleep routine and see if it helps.
Get some exercise
Some people believe that exercising in the evening causes the body to produce adrenaline, inhibiting sleep. However, studies have found that exercise does actually improve sleep. Insomniacs who adopted a regular exercise routine were found to sleep better, feel less depressed, and have more energy than those who avoided exercise all together. Fit it into your day wherever you can and you should start to see an improvement soon.
Cut down on alcohol
It might be tempting to have a nightcap to help you drop off to sleep, but alcohol can actually ruin your chances of a good night’s sleep. Sure, being a little tipsy will help you to drop off more easily, but you’ll wake more in the night and you won’t fall into restful REM sleep so you’ll wake feeling more tired.
Unwind in the evening
Try and start the relaxation and unwinding process as early as possible in the evening. It’s impossible to avoid opening your mail when you get home, or preparing dinner for a hungry family, but once that’s out of the way make sure you schedule in some ‘me’ time. It could be as simple as reading a book with a soothing cup of camomile tea, or taking a nice warm bath with a drop of lavender essential oil to help relax you.
Leave your devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones out of the bedroom. They stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Try reading a book under a low light instead, just try not to get so engrossed that you stay up late to read it! You could also try some meditation or yoga before bed to help you unwind and get into sleep mode.