1 in 3 people suffer from mild insomnia1. Left untreated, a poor night’s sleep can become a chain of sleepless nights. Whether your mind is restless and won’t let you slumber or you’ve had too much caffeine before bed, we’ve compiled a handful of tips on how you can finally combat insomnia.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to a set of habits and practices that serve to ensure your body is fully prepared to fall asleep2. Establishing a handful of rules that will help improve your body’s state before going to sleep is important if you want to get a good night’s rest.
As with most remedies, you must be prepared to follow these suggestions. Insomnia is a very common (and serious) problem, and odds are you are just another poor soul suffering from it. Following this guide is sure to help remedy your issue, though if you’ve taken the suggestions we’ve offered and have seen no improvement, you will want to contact your general practitioner, as you might be suffering from apnea, narcolepsy, or any other clinical sleeping disorder.
What steps can I take in order to improve sleep hygiene?
Most of the people suffering from mild insomnia do so by their own actions. In our modern day and age, we’ve happened to pick up a great amount of habits that are very disruptive to a good night’s rest.
- Avoid stimulants and chemicals before bedtime.3
As might be expected, stimulants such as nicotine and the sleep-killer we all know as caffeine will wreak havoc on your sleeping pattern. You should avoid drinking coffee or alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. While some people report that alcohol helps them fall asleep, alcohol might (and probably will) also cause you to wake up during the night once it has been metabolised by your body.
- Do not eat more than a light meal before bed.4
If you eat a large meal before bed, your body will keep itself busy by trying to digest all that you’ve just eaten. Furthermore, eating more than just a snack before going to bed is a recipe for heartburn, as your stomach acid, now working overtime in order to be able to absorb your meal, might wind its way up your throat, seeing as to how you’re lying down.
- Abstain from playing with electronics before you sleep.5
Our circadian rhythm is naturally attuned to light, as sunlight is supposed to revitalise and rejuvenate your body. With that being said, the very light that is being emitted from your phone, or your laptop, or your TV, fools your body into believing it must stay awake. Engaging in your desire to interact with technology before bed will undoubtedly promote wakefulness during the time when you should not be awake.
Five quick facts about poor sleeping habits:
- Children and teenagers often use media as a means of falling asleep – whether dozing off to their favourite TV show or getting drowsy over texting their friends. Unfortunately, this only serves to encourage insomnia, as they not only mess up their natural sleeping pattern, but also reduce their quality of sleep.
- A lot of people stress themselves when they find that they’re unable to fall asleep by staring at the clock.6 Watching the minutes tick by can be very stressful, especially if you have to wake up early, as you become aware that if you don’t fall asleep soon, you’ll be losing out on precious hours of sleep.
This only makes insomnia worse. It is recommended that you take your mind off the clock – you’re going to lose much more time trying hard to fall asleep than if there’s nothing on your mind.
- Many of us associate the bedroom not just with sleep, but also with whatever we might be doing inside of it.7 Watching TV in your bedroom, for example, will make your mind wander to it, and your bedroom will turn from your place of rest to your playground. This is far from ideal.
- A noisy, warm, and brightly lit bedroom is the bane of sleep. The best sleeping environment is cool, quiet, and dark, as these three factors help the most in guiding your body to complete relaxation, and thus sleep.
- A bad sleeping habit that is often overlooked is that of napping.8
We’ve all napped during the day when fatigue or drowsiness impaired us, and, while it might sound like a great remedy to it, it will leave you unable to slumber during the night, as they decrease your drive to sleep. If you find yourself unable to resist the urge to sleep, it is recommended you do so for a short amount of time, and ideally before 5PM.
1“Insomnia – Sleep Health Foundation.” http://sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Insomnia.pdf.
2“Sleep hygiene – Wikipedia.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_hygiene.
3“Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep – Healthy Sleep – Harvard ….” 18 Dec. 2007, http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips.
4“The Negative Effects of Eating Before Bed – Healthy Eating – SFGate.” http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/negative-effects-eating-before-bed-3027.html
5“Electronics in the Bedroom: Why it’s ….” https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/electronics-the-bedroom
6“Watching the clock can worsen insomnia – The Clinical Advisor.” 20 Jan. 2012, http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/the-waiting-room/watching-the-clock-can-worsen-insomnia/article/224124/.
7“Sleep Hygiene Tips – American Sleep ….” https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/insomnia/sleep-hygiene-tips/
8“Should you Nap? – Insomnia – National Sleep Foundation.” https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/should-you-nap