Lack of quality sleep is one of the most common causes of weight gain by increasing your hunger and appetite.
Not enough sleep also causes impairments to critical thinking and learning, moodiness and depression, depletes your energy reserves, reduces sex drive, and impairs your judgement.
Your body should be getting around 8 hours of sleep a night so that it can function properly. Here is some help to nip insomnia in the bud and get a full night’s rest.
- power down one hour before bed
- slow, light stretching to quiet the body and prepare for sleep
- avoid caffeine and alcohol later in the day
- use your mind and breath to relax and decompress
- create your perfect sleep space
- do heavy exercise in the evening
- use alcohol as a relaxant
- overdo the prescription sleeping pills
- stay up past 10 p.m.
- focus your mind on negative thoughts
Tips to Overcome Insomnia
Firstly, it's worth highlighting that insomnia is not an unusual phenomenon. As per the information provided by NHS, about one in three people in the UK suffer from insomnia, with the condition being especially common among the elderly. Stress, anxiety, unsuitable sleeping environments, and certain lifestyle habits are among the myriad factors that can lead to insomnia.
No doubt, a significant part of combatting insomnia involves fostering better sleep hygiene. Here are some suggestions that could make a considerable difference:
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
The Mayo Clinic advises adhering to a sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This habit can help reinforce your body's sleep-wake cycle.
Create a Restful Environment
Ensuring your bedroom provides a restful environment is also essential. As recommended by the CDC, the room should be quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature. The removal of electronic devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones from your sleeping space is highly encouraged.
Limit Daytime Naps
Long daytime naps can potentially interfere with nighttime sleep. Therefore, managing the duration of your naps can be beneficial to your overall sleep quality, as pointed out by the Mayo Clinic.
Physical Activity and Diet
Adding physical activity to your daily routine and paying attention to what you eat and drink, especially before bedtime, can also make a significant difference. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep, and avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime can prevent discomfort and disruptions to your sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Lastly, techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you unwind and prepare for sleep. Various resources, like Headspace, offer guidance on how to implement these techniques effectively.
Insomnia in Numbers
To provide some perspective on the prevalence of insomnia, let's look at some relevant statistics derived from The Good Body:
- Each year, insomnia affects between 50 and 70 million Americans.
- Annually, one in four adults in the US experiences insomnia.
- Approximately 33% to 50% of the adult population occasionally experience symptoms of insomnia.
- Acute or short-term insomnia disorders affect 30% of Americans diagnosed with insomnia.
- 10% of the population impacted by insomnia develop chronic insomnia disorder.
By implementing these tips and necessary lifestyle adjustments, you can improve your sleep quality and overcome insomnia. Remember, a good night's sleep is not only pleasant but also vital for your overall health and well-being.
Reducing mental stimulation before bed will allow the body to begin a gentle transition to relaxation before bedtime. Power down computer, television, and all other mental stimulation (this includes work!) one hour before bed. The reason being that these all emit more blue light which is found in morning daylight, which stimulates us to get up and get going.
Do a little light stretching before bed, just a couple of minutes, so that your body lets go of the physical tension accumulated throughout the day. Just simply showing care for your body before retiring will do wonders for sleep.
By avoiding caffeine 8 hours prior to sleep, your body can follow its natural circadian rhythm to sleep by bedtime, rather than combating the effects of stimulants.
Also, avoid caffeine as a relaxant, as it disrupts sleep rhythm and structure 2-3 hours into sleep. Feel free to enjoy a little calcium and magnesium rich food or drink before going to bed, like milk, crackers or cheese, as this will aid the sleep cycle.
Before bed, a little massage will de-stress the body. If you don’t have a masseuse, try self massage on your legs, arms and neck or slowly roll on a roller for just a few minutes.
If you are more mentally inclined, focus on the path of your breath and then tell each area of your body to relax and release. Focus on visualizing the air going from your lungs into the back, neck, legs, etc., (and it will!).
Meditation, journaling and reading can reduce mental and physical stress. Taking a relaxing epsom salt bath is a wonderful way to soak out the tender spots, make you feel cozy and tired. The more relaxed we are prior to bedtime, the more deeply we will sleep.
The importance of creating a space that is conducive to sound sleep cannot be understated! Create a comfortable sleep surface (foam topper mattress, comfortable head and body pillows); a dark room (blackout curtains, sleep mask) and a quiet room that suits you, (use ear plugs, ‘white noise’ or classical music, or try turning off electronics). Keep the room’s temperature cool, but the bed warm. Get your environment set up for that perfect night’s sleep!
Doing exercise after 8 p.m. goes against your natural circadian rhythms and increases the release of certain chemicals in the body that will keep you awake. Make sure you exercise after sleeping, not before. If you do need to do a little something to loosen up the limbs, light stretching, slow deep breathing and temporarily elevating the legs are suggested.
Avoid using alcohol to relax before sleep. It interrupts your sleep rhythm and structure 2-3 hours into sleep. The alcohol stimulates your body for quite some time before it sedates it, so it would likely keep you awake longer than not using anything at all.
Continuous use of prescription sleeping pills isn’t recommended. Many of them are hard on your internal organs with continued use. Instead, consider using valerian root, chamomile and melatonin to relax and support your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
Your body needs about 8 hours of sleep a night. Recent studies suggest the best time to hit the sack is 10 p.m. The natural circadian rhythms of the body become synchronized in the brain and promote deep, restful sleep. Pushing bedtime later causes immune deficiencies and sleep deprivation which in turn creates fat storage in the body and makes it difficult to maintain a healthy sleep schedule (due to the circadian rhythms being off and creating stress hormones) and prevent weight gain (caused by cortisol and other stress related hormones). So stay healthy and get to bed before 10!
Go to your “happy place” instead of focusing on negative thoughts. Focusing on the positive things in your life will promote calmness in the mind and relaxation in the body. The happier your long term outlook is overall, the better you will sleep!
Quality sleep is imperative to good health. By powering down electronics, avoiding caffeine and alcohol while relaxing at the end of the day, creating your own perfect sleep space and focusing on the positive things in life, you are preparing yourself for deep, restful sleep.