Get a grip on insomnia before it culminates in larger health issues.
Lack of good quality sleep has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and reduced output at work. But getting to sleep is hard work. While drinking warm milk before bed may work for some, the nuksha doesn’t even induce a yawn in others. Here are some tips to cure insomnia:
- Tech it down a notch: Staying up watching TV or surfing is a definite path to insomnia and poor sleep. Shut down technology an hour before bedtime, keep the phone away from the bed and on silent. A recent study suggests electronic communication is linked to excessive movement during sleep and insomnia. The report linked high rates of mood problems, ADHD, anxiety, depression and learning difficulties with late-night usage of mobiles and laptops. To lull yourself to sleep, read a book and not on the e-book reader.
- Plug those thoughts:Negativity avalanches at the end of the day. “Keep your stress levels under check and get a hold on anger”. A therapist will equip you with breathing techniques or auto-suggestions to turn to in moments of stress. As you turn in, go over the good things that happened in the day and be grateful for them. You’ll feel lighter.
- Get passive: Our waking brain exhibits Beta and Alpha waves. Beta waves are the highest in frequency and associated with action. Listening to slow, instrumental music drops us into Alpha waves. The difference between relaxation and stage one sleep is gradual and subtle as your brain goes from Alpha to Theta waves which characterize the first stage of sleep. Slow down heavy mental and physical activity an hour before sleeping.
- Kill hunger: If your diet leaves you hungry at night, it will directly affect your sleeping pattern. “When serotonin is low in supply, it causes insomnia and depression”. Complex carbohydrates stimulate production of natural serotonin required by the brain to aid sleep. Whole grains are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that can be converted to serotonin in the brain. Root vegetables and whole grains that are rich in vitamin B6; and whole grains, nuts, sweet potatoes and fish also help boost serotonin levels. Omega-3 fats boost serotonin levels as well.
- Think pretty: A study in a renowned medical journal linked good sleep to attractiveness. The human mind is sensitive to another person’s sleep-related facial cues and that holds potential implications for social and clinical judgments and behavior. Remind yourself of this when you have an important appointment, and turn off the lights.
- Medication helps: Hormonal changes disrupt sleep. During menopause, hot flushes might keep women awake. It is crucial to get medical help.
- Avoid night caps: Wine may make you drowsy, but it will wake you up to answer nature’s call. Even water before bed time should be kept to a minimum to avoid going to the bathroom during the night.
- Lose the fat: While not everyone who is obese suffers from sleep disorder, the chances are definitely high. Obesity is shown to increase chances of sleep apnea. Losing that paunch and controlling the body fat level is important. Get some exercise every day and keep it consistent.
More tips to beat insomnia:
- Make it a habit to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. While you may want to sleep longer during the week-ends to make up for lost sleep, you need to train your body to get used to waking up at the same time daily. The same goes for the night. Hit the sack at a designation time daily.
- Avoid having nicotine, coffee or alcohol at night. These stimulants will keep you awake. Caffeine effects are known to last for several hours. So stay away from it in the evenings and nights. Alcohol may make you feel drowsy in the beginning but will keep you awake during the night.
- Several naps during the day will affect the quality of your sleep at night. A short power nap of about 15 minutes every day is fine but make sure it doesn’t interfere with you getting sleep at night.
- Experts say that regular exercise helps improve sleep. However, don’t exercise just before you’re about to go to bed. Finish your workout at least three to four hours before you hit the sack.
- Keep your bed for its purpose. Use it just to sleep. Avoid bringing work or household chores to your bed and avoid talking on the phone, watching television or listening to loud music. These activities can make it tough to fall asleep.
- Never eat just before you turn in. Having late dinner or having snacks activates your digestive system and prevents you from falling asleep.
- Ensure that your surroundings are comfortable. Your bed, temperature, lighting and noise levels in the bedroom also play an important role in aggravating insomnia.