Don’t worry. You’re not the only person lying there awake at 3am wondering about insomnia cures. It’s believed that up to 33 per cent of the Australians have trouble falling or staying asleep, and the condition does not discriminate. It affects children and adults, parents and people with stressful jobs, and even people on holidays.
Acute insomnia occurs when sleep problems are triggered by illness, stress or a change in your life circumstances. You should also know that having trouble sleeping is a symptom of something else. Treating chronic cases often means finding the underlying cause.
There are good reasons to tackle insomnia if you suffer from it. The most obvious one is having the energy you need to get through your day. But having chronic insomnia can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight gain and depression.
The good news is, most people who are looking for insomnia cures can make big improvements by implementing a few simple lifestyle changes. Better still, many of the best insomnia cures are free.
The mantra here is “move early in the day and often”. Movement does not need to be rigorous. Just going for a short stroll and being in outdoors is enough. Burning off some of your physical energy helps to manage sleeplessness.
2. Have a caffeine curfew
If you drink coffee, tea, cola or energy drinks, avoid them after the middle of the day. Taking away the one thing which can help a sleep-deprived person function can be difficult. But remember – caffeine can change circadian rhythms or disrupt sleep in a big way for people who are sensitive to it.
3. Avoid alcohol
Many people report that a glass of wine makes them sleepy, but alcohol’s sedating effect does not last long and it can lead to non-restorative sleep. If you drink alcohol right before bed you may get two to three hours of deep sleep but you won’t sleep as deeply as you might need to.
4. Eat early in the evening
The act of digestion is stimulating to the body and a big meal at bedtime can leave some people waking hot and bloated. Aim to eat two to three hours before going to sleep so your digestive tract does not impact your sleep quality.
5. Reduce exposure to screens
Especially computer screens and mobile phones! Turn phones and computers off two hours before bedtime. If you are unable to turn off your phone because you use it as an alarm, invest in an alarm clock or place your phone on flight mode. Mobiles, in particular, are very bad for sleep. Their screens emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
6. Having a warm bath or shower before bed
Having a bath or shower is a great idea as long as it is done one to two hours before bed. An excessively warm body is not conducive to restful and deep sleep.
7. Engage in mindful movement
Practices like yoga and Tai chi are fantastic for relaxing the nervous system.
8. Brain entrainment
At the risk of contradicting point 7, there are some great apps for promoting sleep. One in particular is the Brainwave app. Download it onto your smart phone, switch your phone to flight mode, put the earphones on, close your eyes, and let the audio change your brainwave activity so that it is conducive to restful sleep. You can get it here.
9. Disengage the thinking mind
When lying in bed try putting the tongue on the roof of the mouth and focus on that. Alternatively try doing simple maths that is hard enough to think about, such as counting backward from 200 by 3’s. Or try the following breathing practice: breathe in slowly to the count of 4 and breath out slowly to the count of 6-7.
It sounds strange, but light can help you sleep. Aim for bright light exposure during the middle of the day. If you are unable to go outside during the day you can use a blue light box indoors or aim to be near light filled windows. Check one out here.
Have you got an insomnia cure that works? Tell us about it in the comments below.