5 ways to beat insomnia

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We live in a world where our body and mind are constantly stimulated, often right up until we fall asleep. Most people realise the importance of rest and relaxation, but for some of us, actually falling asleep can be the most stressful part of our day. If you can’t stop tossing and turning at night, the culprit could be what you do before bed.

Treat your bedroom like a sanctuary

Create an environment in your bedroom that promotes relaxation and sleep. Equip your room with dim lighting, a comfy mattress and soft bedding and invest in a pair of earplugs if you are easily bothered by noise. Maintain a comfortable temperature and turn your clock away from the bed — watching the passing time as you toss and turn will only make things worse.

You should also avoid using your bed for activities like working, studying, eating and watching TV. This will help strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep, making it easier for your brain to wind down when you’re in there.

Prep your mind with a relaxing bedtime ritual

Getting mentally ready for sleep is one of the best ways to get your sleep cycle back on track. A warm bath, calming music and gentle yoga are all good ways to relax your mind and unwind from the day.

Find whatever activity works best for you and make it part of your pre-sleep ritual. This will help you establish a clear association between the activity and bed. For instance, if you read before bed, your body will begin to recognise reading at night as a signal for sleep.

Go to sleep and wake up at similar times

It might seem tempting to sleep in on the weekends – particularly if you haven’t slept well during the week. However, if you regularly have difficulty sleeping, it is important that you develop a sleep pattern by going to sleep and waking at the same time. If you must catch up on sleep, you are better off going to sleep earlier the following night rather than sleeping in later.

Don’t over-indulge before bed

While having a light snack may help you sleep, avoid eating anything heavy as this can activate your digestive system and keep you awake.

Alcohol can be quite effective at helping you fall asleep (it’s a depressant after all), but it can have a very negative impact on your sleep quality by causing you to wake frequently and reducing your REM.

Try natural remedies for insomnia first

Before you rush to the doctor to get a prescription for some sleep medication, try some natural alternatives. Herbal teas, incense and aromatherapy oils can help you get to sleep by slowing the body’s nervous system and promoting relaxation. They are a cheap, non-toxic way to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Natural vitamins can also help with the quality and length of your sleep. Magnesium and calcium are both sleep boosters, and when taken together, they become even more effective.