Insomnia is a problem that just about anyone can suffer from at any given period of time. Insomnia can be transient and related to everyday stressors. It can also become chronic, so that nearly every night you have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep throughout the night. 6 to 10% of the US population suffers from some type of insomnia. Women experience this condition two times more than men do.
Lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems and consequences, including heart disease and diabetes. It is also a contributing factor to obesity and can increase chances of work and driving related accidents. Anyone who has ever experienced insomnia or even poor sleep knows that the day after can be pure misery and can affect work, relationships, and social life.
Here are the top ten ways you can help yourself get some sleep so you don’t suffer from the long-term consequences of sleep deprivation brought on by too many nights without proper sleep:
- Set a sleep ritual. This means you go through the same behaviors before going to sleep at the same time of night. Rituals train the mind, which regulates the body, and a nightly ritual can go a long way to facilitating a healthy sleep cycle. Your sleep ritual can involve self-care like brushing your hair and teeth, putting on some soothing music, taking a bath with aromatherapy candles, and reading by candle light or even fluffing your pillows before sleeping.
- Use a white noise machine. White noise machines are all natural methods to elicit sleep and to ensure a healthy sleep pattern. These machines emit white noise to block out extraneous noises that might interfere with your sleep. There are also those that offer the sound of waterfalls, the ocean, or a babbling brook. Choose a sound that appeals to you, and go to sleep with that sound playing all night long or just for a half hour to 90 minutes, depending on whether or not your machine has an automatic stop timer.
- Practice meditation. Many people meditate before going to sleep. Meditation involves having a strong mind-body connection, focusing on your breath, relaxing all of your muscles, and calming the mind. When your muscles are relaxed completely, you will have less musculoskeletal pain and will sleep better. Meditation is very effective for reducing anxiety, which is a major contributor to insomnia.
- CBD. CBD oil works with your body in a variety of ways. One of the biggest ways is by providing balance to the endocannabinoid system. This system affects your body in a variety of ways including sleep.
- Practice hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is similar to meditation except that with self-hypnosis you will focus on a specific goal, such as getting a calm night’s sleep. You work with your subconscious in order to bring about a state of relaxation conducive to sleep.
- Drink lavender or chamomile tea. Both of these herbal remedies can help you feel more rested and ready to sleep. Lavender can be drunk in tea form, taken as a capsule containing the dried plant components, or used in essential oil form in an aromatherapy diffuser.
- Try qi gong. Qi gong is an ancient Chinese martial art that involves gentle and graceful movements attached to deep meditation and breathing. This can be learned at a health club or from a home DVD. Just about everyone has the skill it takes to do this soothing form of exercise right before bedtime.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime. Eating too much before you go to bed can make it uncomfortable to get a full night’s rest. Eat at least 3-4 hours before bedtime, reserving nighttime for a small pre-sleep snack.
- Practice Tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form that has become a popular exercise for better health. It is a bit more stimulating when compared to qi gong but involves similar movements. Tai chi should probably not be done right before bedtime; instead, do tai chi about 4 hours or more before going to sleep.
- Try passionflower. Passionflower is a well-known herbal sleep aid that can be taken alone or used with other herbal sleep aids. It relaxes the mind and frees it from anxieties that plague your nighttime hours. Take it as a tea, or use standardized capsules containing dried passionflower.
- Practice yoga. Yoga can be a good exercise to do right before bedtime. Yoga involves various poses while concentrating on breathing and mindfulness. There are several poses, which specifically help to induce sleep and aid with insomnia:
- Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
- Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
- Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
- Savasana (Corpse Pose)
- Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
- Parsva Upavistha Konasana (Side Seated Wide Angle Pose)
- Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)
- Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
- Savasana (Corpse Pose)
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
- Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
- Siddhasana (Adept’s Pose)
Take a yoga class to see if you like it, or purchase a yoga DVD. Establish a routine that you can implement as a nightly ritual before retiring to sleep.