I can’t begin to count how many friends and family members I have who are wrestling with insomnia. If insomnia is something you’re familiar with, you know how frustrating it can be to either not be able to fall asleep, or not be able to stay asleep. What to do when wrestling that insomnia demon? Let’s try and figure it out.
And refresh your knowledge on the importance of sleep by reading Go To Bed! Why Sleep Is the Most Important Part of Your Workout Routine
Figuring Out What Kind of Insomnia You Have
Insomnia comes in many forms. The National Sleep Foundation lists these kinds of insomnia:
Chronic Insomnia. Chronic insomnia is characterized by a long-term history of trouble sleeping. Chronic insomnia is generally characterized by having difficulty falling asleep or trouble staying asleep for at least three nights a week, for at least three months or more. There are many causes of chronic insomnia and if this is something you’re struggling with, work with your doctor on how to best treat this.
Comorbid Insomnia. Comorbid insomnia is insomnia that occurs alongside another condition. This could be things like depression or anxiety, as well as medical conditions that cause pain, like back pain, arthritis, or other pain.
Onset Insomnia. Onset insomnia is just as you might expect—that is when individuals have trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night.
Maintenance Insomnia. Maintenance Insomnia is my problem. This is characterized by being able to get to sleep, but to being able to stay asleep, and sometimes also by having difficulty returning to sleep once awakened.
What Commonly Causes Wrestling With Insomnia? Hello Anxiety
One of the most common causes of insomnia is anxiety. It’s pretty hard to get to sleep—and stay asleep—when you can’t stop worrying. And of course, if you know sleep is going to be a problem for you every night, you might start to become anxious every day as bedtime approaches. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that is not insurmountable.
If you find that you’re frequently thinking about past or future events when it’s time to sleep, your insomnia may be due to anxiety, and you should work on easing your mind before bed. One of my young daughters suffers from anxiety, and on way we deal with that is to keep a journal by her beside so that she can write down her worries and get them out in the open. That seems to help her get them out of her head, be exponentially less anxious, and know that she can tackle what she’s worried about in the morning, when she’s awake and refreshed. You can also talk to your doctor for help if anxiety is taking over your life and your “worry journal” isn’t working.
Give Reverse Psychology a Try When Wrestling With Insomnia
Sometimes telling yourself you need to go to sleep right now can backfire. You’re basically putting your mind and body on the spot, and that alone can cause anxiety that keeps you from sleeping. So switch it up by telling yourself not to fall asleep at bedtime! Make it a point to think about interesting things as you crawl into bed, and tell yourself you must stay awake until an absurdly late hour. You never know; the rebel in you might just disobey, getting rid of the insomnia demon!
Adjust the Lighting in Your Room to avoid Wrestling With Insomnia
One of the best ways to counter insomnia is to set the stage. That means preparing your room and your environment for optimal sleeping. For instance, lighting matters. Most people find it hard to sleep with any lights on around them, I know I do! Maybe your room is mostly dark, but you forgot there’s a nightlight in a nearby corner that may be keeping you awake. Or maybe there’s a streetlight that shines right into your room every night. If that’s the case, get blackout curtains for your windows, or put on an eye mask before you fall asleep. You might just find you simply need a pitch-black room to beat that insomnia demon.
Don’t Use Electronics Right Before Bed
This is a tough one for many people, but setting the stage for sleep involves ditching the electronics. White or yellow light isn’t the only type of light that could be disturbing your sleep. There’s also something called blue light, which electronics emit. This light can actually stop your body from producing the amount of melatonin you need to sleep. So if you hop into bed with your laptop, tablet, or smartphone know that this might be contributing to your insomnia. It’s a good idea to shut off all electronics at least one hour before bed.
Try to Relax at Bedtime
Another way to slay the insomnia demon is to make it a point to relax every night before bed. This means carving out a few minutes to meditate, or at least try some deep breathing before you climb into bed. This should especially help if your insomnia is due to anxiety. I also love doing Yoga an hour or so before bed, because Yoga puts me in a relaxed, calm state of mind. Plus, it turns out having a bedtime ritual can help you sleep, so why not make Yoga and meditation part of your nightly habit?
You can learn more about meditation, yoga, and other sleeping tricks when you read: Sleeping Better at Night with Yoga [And Other Things]
Try a Natural Supplement
There are supplements you can take to help get and stay asleep, and if you’re like me, you’re interested in an all natural solution, not the prescription stuff that can get you hooked and crazy. I’ve been down that path with Ambien once upon a million years ago and man, was it ever hard to get rid of that stuff. But I was sure glad when I did. There are some pretty effective natural melatonin supplements you can try, and when you take the right dose, you shouldn’t suffer from any side effects. You should also discuss the fact that you’re wrestling with insomnia with your doctor and see what supplements he or she might recommend.
If you’re unfamiliar with how melatonin works, check out: What Is Melatonin?
Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit and even combine a few of these techniques. Since they’re all natural options, you can’t go wrong experimenting with any of them. And if you’ve tried them all to no avail, seeing a doctor can help you figure out your next steps so you finally get the good sleep you deserve.
One final note, the team at FitFormula has developed FitFormula Sleep product that’s a blueberry flavored powder. I’ve been testing it with great results, and we’ll be rolling it out by about June of 2018. If this is something you might be interested in, send us an email at hello at fitformulawellness dot com and we’ll make sure you’re on the email list when we launch the new product.
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