You’ve tried everything, but you still can’t fall asleep. It’s 2 a.m., the alarm is set to go off in 3 hours and you cannot for the life of you get yourself to fall asleep even though you’re exhausted.
Insomnia is very common in the United States. Thirty to forty percent of adults experience some type each year. But not getting the recommended amount of sleep (average of 7 hours for adults) harms your body. Your immune system gets compromised and you have a better chance of becoming sick.
Here are some tips to help you get to sleep next time you’re staring at your ceiling counting sheep:
- Keep a sleep diary. Record how much sleep you get and when you fall asleep, when you’re tired during the day and other sleep symptoms. This can help identify activities that are helping or hurting your good night’s sleep.
- Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which has been shown to improve sleep quality.
- Only use your bed for sleep and sex. Nothing else.
- Got to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning – even on the weekends.
- Don’t smoke. Smokers usually go into nicotine withdrawal at night, casing insomnia.
- Get a new mattress. A good, comfortable mattress can help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Exercise – and do it early in the day, at least 3-4 hours before bed.
- Start keeping a journal to write down all your problems and stressors. Take time each day to let out your feelings in your journal so that you’re not thinking about them when you go to bed.
- Are you a napper? Only take a 20-30 minute nap. Any more than that will disrupt your nighttime routine.
- Limit your caffeine. Enough said.
- Eat healthy. The better you eat, the better you sleep.
- Get some fresh air. The natural light during the day balances your melatonin which helps us sleep better at night.
- Try meditation, yoga or deep breathing. Any of these will help with sleep quality and total sleep time.
- Turn off the televisions, computers, smartphones and tablets at least one hour before bed.
- Sleep in a cool, dark room will help give you a restful night’s sleep.
- Don’t drink alcohol before bed. It actually disrupts sleep cycles.
- Put on a fan or white noise machine to block outside noises.
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea. The herb has been shown to reduce anxieties and help us get a better’s night sleep.
- Count sheep. Seriously. Focusing on one thing may help the brain calm down. Focus on your breathing if nothing else.
- Still not sleeping? Maybe it’s time to see a sleep specialist.
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