Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder reported. While insomnia is a common symptom of other mental illnesses, the most recent edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) adds more emphasis on insomnia as a disorder, rather than a symptom of another disorder or illness.
Insomnia can be characterized by a person’s inability to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night. A lack of sleep can cause stress and other problems in every day life. Sleep is an essential part of staying healthy and keeping your mind and body heathy.
While sleep is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists, it is theorized that it is used to help the body recharge by turning off conscious sensory perception and organize thoughts and memories from the day’s activities.
If you are struggling to have a good night’s sleep, here are 5 ways for how to get rid of insomnia for good.
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Exercise has a wide variety of health benefits, including mood regulation, stress relief, cardiovascular strengthening, weight management, and prevention of chronic illness such as diabetes. Some studies have also shown how aerobic exercise can be used to decrease chronic insomnia symptoms. One study showed how athletes experience less sleep problems than non-athletes.
Get Natural Light
Having daily exposure to natural sunlight will maintain the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Before we had alarm clocks, the light of day, and darkness of night were the indicators of when it was time to go to sleep, and when it was time to wake up again.
We see a disruption in circadian rhythm with the amount of electronic screen time. The blue light from phones and laptops can mimic that of daylight (without giving you the added benefits of Vitamin D), and can trick the brain into thinking its still daytime. The blue light also causes eyestrain the can cause damage to the eyes in time.
For this reason, you may want to get some bluelight glasses if you know you will be exposing yourself to blue light in the evening. These glasses block the blue light from hitting your eyes, and can prevent some of the damage blue light may cause.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Keep A Regular Routine
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Try to maintain this even on the weekends so your body can stay consistent and subconsciously start getting tired at “bed time”.
Avoid Stimulants right before bed
Rich or spicy foods, and caffeinated or sugary drinks can cause indigestion as well as raise alertness for some people.
Keep the room cool
The body cools down during sleep, and keeping the room on the cooler side can help with staying sleeping through the night. Turn down the air or even turn on a fan to keep a consistently colder temperature.
The Bed Is Only For Sleep and Sex
Avoid reading, snacking, or watching TV in bed. You want to subconsciously connect your bed with sleeping, and create a sleep sanctuary for yourself.
Make The Room Dark
To avoid distractions, keep the room cool and dark. If the room you sleep in has light cascading in throughout the night, you may want to consider investing in black-out curtains or a simple eye mask.
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Pay attention to muscle tension
If you are very stressed, you may be keeping a lot of tension in certain muscle areas such as your back, neck, or shoulders. Mindfulness meditation can help you to release this tension and become more aware of your body.
You may also have a partner give you a relaxing massage to help you relax. If you don’t have someone to do this for you (or someone who may not want to do this every night) you are going to want to try a Tens Machine. This will send tiny pulses of electricity through sticky pads that you place on your body on the area you want to treat. (Honestly, one of my favorite things to do to relax, and is so affordable)
Take a Bath or Shower
Taking your bath or shower in the evening may help you to wind down and relax before getting ready for bed. The warm water will help to relax your muscles, and the isolation in the bathroom can help to reduce the amount of distractions that may cause you to otherwise stay awake. Try meditating or releasing yourself from your worries during this time and telling yourself you can think about these things tomorrow.
Aromatherapy can work by associating certain smells with the act of going to sleep. Smell is one of the strongest senses we have, and is closely tied to our memory. If you have an essential oil diffuser you can try using the same essential oil every night for week (lavender is very relaxing and a common favorite) or even use a spray or pillow mist to douse your side of the bed.
Talk To A Psychiatrist
If you aren’t able to fall or stay asleep on your own, it may be time to speak with a Doctor. There may be another health condition causing your insomnia, or stronger treatment may be necessary. Psychiatrists may prescribe sleep medication, or your doctor may consider you for a sleep study where your brain waves are measured during sleep.
Ask your doctor about all treatment options, and what their professional opinion is given your symptoms.