Few things in life are as stressful as climbing into bed, exhausted and finding that (surprise!) you just can’t catch those elusive Zzz’s. Even one night of inadequate rest can trigger health issues like migraines or a spike in blood pressure, but when this process is repeated night after night, the resulting flood of stress hormone cortisol can devastate your mind, body and mood. If you find yourself lying awake in the dark too often, try these tips that will have you kicking insomnia out of your bed and enjoying the best sleep of your life.
1. Don’t Take Insomnia Lying Down
As tempting as it may be to close your eyes and attempt to will yourself to sleep, resist. If you’re still wide-eyed and alert 20 minutes after switching off the lights, get back up.
It’s important that your mind links being in bed with being fast asleep so if you aren’t, try taking a leisurely stroll in the hallway or reading in the living room. Return to bed only when you’re struggling to keep your eyes open.
2. Check Your Daily Habits
Do you find yourself guzzling mugs of coffee or taking daytime naps in order to deal with the fatigue of sleepless nights? These same coping methods can feed into your insomnia, making it increasingly harder to get the sleep you crave and keeping you locked in a vicious cycle.
Instead, use fresh air and protein-rich meals to manage daytime fatigue and allow exhaustion to gradually build until a restful night’s sleep comes naturally.
3. Nix that Nightcap
There’s no denying that alcohol can make you drowsy, but it can also make the REM stage of sleep (where real rest and rejuvenation takes place) virtually unreachable. Alcohol is a deep-sleep disruptor so while that nightcap may help you drift away, you’ll still wake up unsatisfied. If you’re looking for a relaxing drink to set the stage for better sleep, reach for a cup of chamomile tea for its reported calming, anxiety-banishing properties.
4. Warm Up & Cool Down
Try a warm bath followed by a cool sleep environment. This mimics the body’s natural drop in core temperature while sleeping, so shrug off those extra covers for deep, rejuvenating sleep.
5. Embrace Your Nature
Reclaim your body’s intrinsic circadian rhythm and use night and day to reset your inner clock. Woke up groggy and under rested again? Bask in the early morning sunlight! While it may seem counter intuitive and leave you blinking in momentary pain, a flood of bright natural light is the first step in triggering processes that ensure a quality night’s sleep. Once your body understands that it’s daytime, production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin will drop.
In the evening, allow your home environment to mirror the gradual darkening of the day by dimming lights and eliminate sleep-disrupting blue light sources like computer and tablet screens. Before you know it, an increase in melatonin will leave you heavy-lidded and nodding off into the deep, peaceful sleep of your dreams.