Are you struggling to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or, do you wake up in the middle of the night unable to fall asleep again?

You are not alone, roughly 40 to 50% of people have trouble sleeping. Yup, that many!

Why are so many of us battling with insomnia? Well, stress is usually the most common reason for not sleeping, but it is definitely not the only one. Some surprising lifestyle habits can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. The room you’re sleeping in, what you’ve done that day and even how early you’ve turned in, can all interfere with your snooze ability. A study from St Lawrence University in the US. shows that people sleeping in messy rooms take longer to fall asleep!

Here’s the thing, despite the fact that you’re dead tired due to lack of sleep, insomnia can cause a host of health conditions if left untreated. Insufficient sleep affects your mood, judgement, memory and focus. In fact, less than 7 hours of sleep every day will increase your cortisol, blood sugar, and insulin levels which in turn will increase your appetite and make your body store fat. Yikes!

The good news is that sleep can be restored with a few lifestyle changes.

Try these tips to promote a good night’s sleep:

  • Take a warm bath or read a few pages from a good book before bedtime.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. This will help you to get back to a regular sleep rhythm.
  • Avoid naps. If you feel that you have to take a nap, limit it to 30 minutes before 3 pm.
  • Review your medications. Beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure) may cause insomnia; so can SSRI’s (antidepressants). Write down every drug and supplement that you take and have your doctor evaluate how they may be affecting your sleep.
  • Exercise, but not within 4 hours of bedtime. Working out – especially cardio – improves the length and quality of your sleep. That said, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise keeps your body temperature elevated for about 4 hours, inhibiting sleep. When your body begins to cool down, however, it signals your brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin, making you drowsy.
  • Cut caffeine after 2 pm. Coffee, tea and cola are stimulants and stays in your system for about 8 hours.
  • Don’t take water to bed – it’s a trigger to your body to wake up for a drink.
  • Write down your woes. Can’t turn off your mind? Jot down your concerns and the steps you can take to solve them. Once your concerns are converted into some kind of action plan, you’ll rest easier.
  • Turn on the white noise. A low-level soothing noise will help you to tune out disturbances and help you to fall asleep and stay asleep; e.g. a fan or soothing music.
  • Consider kicking out furry bed mates. More than half of people who sleep with their pets say the animals disturb their slumber.
  • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex.

If you have tried all of the above lifestyle changes and still suffer from insomnia, contact your health practitioner.

Source: www.webmd.com, www.helpguide.org, www.prevention.com, Fairlady July 2019 issue, www.indiatimes.com, www.drugs.com

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.