Does insomnia stalk you in the night? The darkness envelops you and you find yourself chasing after the elusive “shuteye” teaser? Catch me, if you can? Well, if you are , you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, around 60 million Americans experience chronic insomnia.
So what’s insomnia? Health experts say it’s the lack of ability to fall asleep or stay asleep on a regular basis. If you think you have insomnia, consult your doctor and make sure it’s not an indication of other medical problems such as depression, heart disease, sleep apnea, lung disease, menopause or diabetes.
If you don’t have any major health problems, you may want to examine your lifestyle, your emotional stress level or eating habits for any sleep inhibitors. Sometimes, the sleep problem can be dissolved by tweaking the factors that constitute your life or lifestyle.
Here’s some ways to encourage sleep:
1. Let’s start with the obvious. Quit drinking caffeinated drink hours before you go to sleep–caffeine is the antithesis of sleep. While we’re at it, ditch sugary snacks before zzz..time too.
2. Are you stress? With work? With life? Ask yourself what good will your worrying in bed do? Nothing! Rather than allow stress to activate your brain and keep you awake, leave them outside your bedroom. Mentally cut them off and tell them to bug off. You’re your own bedtime psychiatrist, so there!
3. Relax and Unwind with sleep-inducing food or drink. This is one that works for me and I have made a ritual out of it. An hour or so before you go to sleep, indulge yourself with some sleep-inducing foods. For drinks–choose calming tea like Chamomile or warm milk. Snack on foods rich in Tryptophan, an amino acid that is the precursor to serotonin, which is a necessary neurotransmitter for inducing sleep and tranquility. Carbohydrates, certain proteins and dairy products are high in tryptophan. Specific examples include milk, cheese, soy products, whole grains, seafood, turkey, beans and lentils. Remember–it’s like bedtime snack, so think small portion.
- Cheese on whole wheat crackers and a cup of hot tea
- Lean turkey on pita with a heap of hummus.
- Air-popped chips with bean dip.
4. Reduce tension. Tense muscles can keep you awake. Relax your muscles and ease your body into bedtime sleep with muscle relaxation exercises.
5. Relaxation Techniques. Sleep experts say that relaxation techniques is one of the most effective ways to increase sleep time, fall asleep faster, and feel more rested in the morning. See this video.
Exercises tire your body and induces the feel-good hormone, endorphins. Regular exercises (just don’t do any strenuous exercises before bedtime) help your body to sleep better. Yoga is especially effective with its combination of deep breathing, meditation and stretching.
7. Create a Sleep-friendly Environment. Close shades to set the mood. Put on some gentle, soothing music to lull you to slumber land. If you like aromatherapy, use a diffuser to infuse air with your favorite scent. Some people prefer to put sachets of lavender, Chamomile or ylang ylang under their pillows or tucked inside. You know what soothes you–well–welcome them into your bedroom and allow them to put you in a sweet mood.
If you’ve done all that, and you’re still playing catch–see a doctor. And good luck with this sleeping malady. Put it to sleep!