What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia can be defined as the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or an event that affects your quality of sleep. Some of its symptoms include
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep or waking up multiple times through the night
- Relying on sleeping tablets or alcohol to sleep
- Feeling drowsy and irritable during the day
- Memory and concentration problems
- Headaches especially in the morning
- Waking up too early in the morning and not feeling refreshed
How To Overcome Insomnia With Lifestyle Changes?
Getting To The Root Of Sleep Problems
Creating a bedtime routine can make a big difference when trying to overcome sleep problems like insomnia. Here are some ideas that you can try.
Go To Bed And Wake At The Same Time Every Day
Get your body into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Stop taking afternoon naps and laying in over the weekends.
Quit Alcohol And Stimulants
Nicotine, caffeine and other stimulants can have long-lasting effects on your body and could be contributing to your problems sleeping. If you can’t eliminate them completely, try not to drink coffee or take stimulants in the afternoon and see if it makes a difference to your quality of sleep.
Digital screens are also stimulants and should be avoided well before bedtime.
Other stimulating activities can include discussions and arguments with other people that lead your brain to get overactive at a time when it should be slowing down.
Make sure you do some cardiovascular exercise every day. Do not exercise too close to bedtime as it can have a stimulating effect. Make sure you are done at least three hours before your bedtime.
Review Your Medication
If you are taking medications for chronic health conditions it is possible that one or more of them could be contributing to your sleep problems. Discuss the potential side effects with your general practitioner to see if it is possible for you to have a substitute.
Create A Comfortable Sleep Environment
We sleep best in complete darkness and without interruptions. Make sure you have blackout curtains and that you are warm enough in bed.
Do Not Eat Before Bedtime
Eating too late or snacking before bed can disrupt your digestive system and keep you awake. Eating rich and heavy food can cause heartburn and acid reflux, which can interfere with your ability to sleep. Drinking too much before bedtime can also keep you up all night to keep emptying your bladder.
Find Ways To Manage Stress And Tension
It’s important that you cope well with stress in order to sleep well at night. Speak to a psychologist about how to overcome insomnia if you have known concerns that are keeping you up at night. If you have generalised anxiety or need assistance with general stress management, exercise can make a major difference, but you may also want to try meditation, tai chi, yoga or cognitive behavioural therapy to help you cope better with life’s stresses.
If you can’t sleep, get out of bed to do something calming. Do not switch on the television or check your phone. Rather take a relaxing bath, play some sleep music or do some meditation in order to try and quiet your mind.
Insomnia can be a vicious cycle, that leads to you feeling drained and fatigued during the day. This could result in other unhealthy habits like afternoon napping (that may lead you to go to bed later), sedative use or alcohol to help you fall asleep, and then the resultant effect of stress at not being able to sleep preventing you from getting a good night’s rest and causing insomnia.
You need between seven and ten hours of sleep a day to feel and perform at your best. Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of health concerns and can leave you feeling frazzled, frustrated and groggy. If lifestyle changes do not help it’s important to enlist the help of a professional like a psychologist to help you get to the bottom of the problem. From there you can adopt a treatment plan so you can feel your best again.
To find out more about how to overcome insomnia and what could be causing your sleep problems, please contact us for a confidential appointment with our psychologist: (02) 9884 9300.