Insomnia can feel like an awful burden. The constant tossing and turning before you finally drift off to sleep. The hours and hours spent staring at the ceiling can be so frustrating. I’ve heard people say “My dad had insomnia, so I have it too.” That type of thinking makes one give up- as if it is hereditary. The good news I have for you is that insomnia does not have to be a lifelong curse. You can indeed find a cure for your insomnia. But before we get into insomnia treatments, let’s focus on 5 things that might be preventing you from getting the quality sleep you deserve:
1) Alcohol use: I’ve heard a lot of people use the term “Night cap” to refer to a nightly drink of alcohol. We even see it in the movies. You sit back, pour a glass of wine and use it as a relaxation tool after a long day of work. While a glass of wine in itself isn’t bad for you, the quantity of alcohol you drink as well as the time you drink it could be affecting your sleep. Now I’m well aware that many people feel relaxed after a glass of wine and might even drift off to a cozy sleep. But for others, alcohol actually affects their sleep quality.
Alcohol can actually shorten the length of your deep sleep and also create fragmented sleep. So in a bid to cure your sleep problems with alcohol, you actually end up with shorter sleep and your sleep becomes disturbed throughout the night. This could lead to more night time awakenings and more tiredness in the morning. So to be on the safe side, either avoid alcohol a few hours before bed, or don’t drink it at all.
2) Screen time: We live in a digital world. We are glued to our electronic devices more than ever before. While technology can be very helpful with daily tasks, our devices can actually prevent us from getting the sleep we crave. Cell phones and tablets emit a blue light that send a signal to the brain, preventing it from producing melatonin. And we need melatonin for sleep. So to be safe, put aside your devices an hour before bedtime. Give your body time to produce the melatonin it needs to relax for the night.
3) Exercise: You’ve heard that 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended for a healthy body. Exercise is also great for your heart, your lungs, and many other organs. However if you exercise at the wrong time, you might actually be preventing sleep and triggering insomnia. When you work out, your body temperature increases, and signals to your brain that you should wake up. After a few hours, your body temperature will naturally fall, signaling to your brain that you should get ready to sleep. But if you exercise too close to bed time, your body temperature will rise, and your body might not know that you should be getting ready to sleep. If you struggle with insomnia, limit exercise to no less than 4 hours before your bedtime, so you can give your body a chance to reduce its temperature and produce melatonin for sleep.
4) Irregular bedtime: We all know that bedtimes are great for kids, but the problem is that some adults completely do away with the idea of a bedtime due to busy work schedules, irregular traveling schedules, or personal commitments. The thing is your body works like a well oiled machine. When you sleep at odd times, your body becomes unsure of when it is expected to rest. The solution? If you struggle with insomnia or some other sleep disorder, go to bed within the same hour each day. Create a good routine for yourself so that your body knows when to shut down and when to wake up each day.
5) Uncomfortable surroundings: Your bedroom should feel like a sanctuary. But for many, the bedroom doubles as a work room or an office. While this might be practical, it could confuse your body into thinking that nighttime is work time, rather than sleep time. If your bedroom is filled with clutter, your sheets are dirty and rough, or your bedroom smells old and stale, all these factors could prevent your body from feeling relaxed enough to shut down. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t feel relaxed in an uncomfortable environment either. If you can, take your computer out of your bedroom. Wash your sheets regularly and air out your room regularly so that fresh air can come in. You’ll notice the difference in your sleep quality.
If you are struggling with insomnia and your unsure of how to treat it, I provide insomnia treatment in Murrieta and online. Call 951-905-3181 to schedule a free consultation to see if CBT for insomnia treatment will help you get the sleep you’ve been yearning for. You an also email me here.