Insomnia is a plague in our busy lives. Trouble is that the consequences of sleep deprivation spiral beyond simple fatigue. People who are sleep starved have difficulty remembering and concentrating. Irritability rises and sense of humour evaporates. If all that werenâ??t bad enough, recent research has connected chronic insomnia with depression, hypertension, and obesity.
Ever notice that fairytales are full of people sleeping? Snow White falls into a deep sleep after tasting the apple. Elves cobble shoes while the shoemaker dozes through the night. Sleeping Beauty slumbers for a hundred years.
Who knows? Perhaps the Grimm brothers suffered from insomnia.
We do know that, today, insomnia is a plague in our busy lives. It afflicts many Canadians–approximately one in seven, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.
Trouble is that the consequences of sleep deprivation spiral beyond simple fatigue. They can affect you in ways that can’t be fixed with a double espresso.
People who are sleep starved have difficulty remembering and concentrating. Irritability rises and sense of humour evaporates. Work absences and injuries spike. The risk of vehicle accidents increases. If all that weren’t bad enough, recent research has connected chronic insomnia with depression, hypertension, and obesity.
So, if you suffer from insomnia, what can you do? Luckily, there’s a wealth of tricks to help you achieve restful, rejuvenating sleep, and you won’t need a golden goose or any magic beans.
1. Establish rhythms
For sound snoozing, you need a regular sleep schedule. Turn in at the same time each evening, and arise the same time each morning. Yes, even on Saturday. Avoid napping since it tends to mess with your internal clock.
2. Create a haven
Transform your boudoir into a place that cultivates restful nights. Reserve it for sleep and intimacy only–no television, no exercise, and especially, no work. Your bedroom should be a comfortable temperature and well-ventilated. Invest in a high-quality, supportive bed. Run a purring fan at night if you have noisy street sounds, or unnerving silence.
3. Harmonize with daylight
Work with your body’s response to light and dark cycles. As little as thirty minutes per day of exposure to sunlight, early in the day, encourages the onset of sleep. At night, keep things nice and dark; wear an eye mask if necessary.
4. Limit caffeine
If you simply can’t imagine your day without your nonfat extra-foam latte, make it a morning treat only. Refrain from other stimulants too, such as cigarettes and cola. Also, curb alcohol in the hours before bedtime. Although it may help you drop off, it seems you pay the price with increased arousal later in your sleep cycle. Unless you have plans for 3 am activity, best skip that nightcap.
Regular exercise promotes sounder sleep. But don’t exercise vigorously just before bed–you’ll be extra-alert. Try yoga. With its blend of relaxation, focus, and stretching, yoga eases your passage to la-la land.
6. Drink your milk
Avoid heavy meals before bed–all that churning and digesting tends to keep you awake. A light snack, however, may help you sleep. Even better, follow your grandmother’s advice and sip a cup of warm organic milk. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid demonstrated to enhance sleepiness.
7. Wear socks
Recent research has unearthed some interesting findings on sleep and body temperature. Improving blood flow to the extremities at night keeps them warm, and the body’s core relatively cool, and this pattern appears to benefit sleep. Keeping those toes cozy might be just the ticket to the land of nod.
8. Don’t toss and turn
If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy, such as reading or listening to soothing music. Then, back to bed. Tossing and turning only serves to increase anxiety and rumination, making sleep all the more unattainable.
Studies have suggested that regular meditation nourishes sleep. Experiment with various meditation techniques: mindfulness on breathing, focusing on a candle flame, or counting meditation…sheep, perhaps? If meditation doesn’t work for you, try other relaxing activities, such as reading, knitting, or soaking in a nice warm bath.
10. Drink tea
There’s nothing like a soothing cup of tea to charm the sandman. But make sure it’s herbal tea–no caffeine. Certain botanicals, such as camomile and valerian, are thought to have sleep-inducing effects. They’re worth a try.
It takes time and dedication to restore healthy sleep habits. Blending multiple methods usually brings the most fruitful results.
Take heart–good sleep is an achievable dream, not just a fairytale. With this Aladdin’s cave of ideas and strategies, you’ll soon be drifting off, happily ever after.