Imagine this—you’re lying in bed, covered in your most comfortable blanket. Your eyes are closed, and beneath your head is the softest pillow. The room is dark and the temperature is cool—everything you need to get a good night’s sleep. But there’s only one problem, it’s been three hours since you went to bed. Despite the flipping, the tossing, and the turning, you still can’t seem to get some shut-eye. When sleep finally comes to you, you’re awoken once more by the ringing of your alarm clock. Then you yearn now on how to improve your sleep.
Sounds familiar? If you’ve been through this kind of situation many times, you may be suffering from insomnia. When you have insomnia, you have trouble falling or staying asleep. An insomniac who wakes up in the middle of sleep will find it difficult to get back to sleep. And when they do get back, they may still feel terribly tired when they wake up.
Various studies worldwide estimate the prevalence of insomnia in 30%-60% of the population. It is common in females, older adults, and people with medical or mental health problems.
What Causes Insomnia?
People with insomnia can experience it in a number of ways. Insomnia can be short-term or chronic. For some people, the main problem is falling asleep while others struggle with staying asleep. Stress and having irregular sleep schedules can trigger insomnia. An unhealthy lifestyle, mental health disorders, and physical illnesses can also disrupt sleep.
Chronic insomnia, if not cured, can weaken your immunity. It may also increase your risk of heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
Improving Your Sleep
The good news is, you can always improve the quality of your sleep. Although there’s no guarantee that you can get rid of insomnia permanently, here are some changes you can do to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Try to commit to a consistent sleep schedule.
One of the causes of insomnia is having an intermittent sleeping schedule. People with irregular work hours, like most remote workers, don’t usually have a fixed sleep schedule. You can train your body to follow a sleep schedule. Establish a regular bedtime and do your best to stick to it. Avoid using your smartphone once you get into bed so you won’t be tempted to scroll through your social media feeds. Commit to this schedule even through the weekends.
Change your sleeping space.
Another thing you can do is to improve your sleeping space. Invest in a good mattress—something that isn’t too hard or too soft—and pillows. Before you go to bed, make sure that you aren’t exposed to bright lights. Light tends to suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Try to minimize disturbing noises as much as you can. Outside noises like the sound of passing cars or barking dogs can be masked by more calming sounds like a white noise machine, or soft music. You can also try using essential oils to help you relax. Lavender, jasmine, and vanilla are some of the most popular essential oil scents.
Leave anxiety out of the bedroom.
Once you head to the bedroom, try not to dwell on the things that cause you anxiety. Overthinking can make it hard to fall asleep. To avoid this, try setting aside some time to address problems you’ve encountered during the day before you head to sleep. Clearing your mind before going to sleep will help you find sleep faster.
Adopt healthier habits.
Avoid certain habits that can make it difficult to fall asleep like limiting your caffeine intake. Confine your caffeine intake earlier in the day so that it’s out of your system by the time you go to bed.
Next, try not to have a large meal before bedtime. Having a full stomach can cause indigestion, thus, making it uncomfortable to go to sleep.
Drinking something warm like tea or milk has a soothing effect that can calm you into a better headspace. A warm bath or shower has the same effect. Doing some gentle stretches can also help you relax as it encourages deep breathing, which also encourages your relaxation responses.
Our body is a machine. And like a machine, it needs to rest after functioning for a whole day. Sleep gives us that respite and provides us with the energy to live another day. Whether we’re dealing with insomnia or not, it’s important that we do our best to get the best quality of sleep we can. Our body deserves it.