March 22nd, 2021
5 easy ways to beat insomnia
If you’ve had trouble sleeping in recent months, you aren’t alone. According to research by the University of Southampton, published by the BBC, sleep problems now affect one in four people.
There are many things that could cause this, such as the stress of the pandemic, the move toward remote working, and the long nights. Thankfully, there are some things you can do.
If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, read on for five easy ways to beat insomnia.
1. Get regular exercise
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, one of the best ways to remedy this is with exercise.
If you work in an office, you may not get much chance during the day to get out and stretch your legs. This can be particularly troublesome when you’re stressed, as you have no outlet for that feeling of tension.
Moderate exercise, such as swimming or jogging, can help you to relieve some of the tension that you may have built up during the day, allowing you to rest easier at night.
If you want to exercise but aren’t sure how you can fit it into your day, click here to read our guide.
2. Maintain good sleep hygiene
Ensuring that you have consistently good “sleep hygiene” is another important thing to consider if you want to overcome insomnia.
This consists of the habits and routines you have in place as you wind down before bed. Therefore, the quality of your sleep hygiene can make a big impact on your ability to fall asleep, and your body’s ability to rest.
If you want to improve your sleep hygiene so you can fall asleep more easily, there are a few things you can do:
Avoid the temptation to nap
One of the easiest ways to practice good sleep hygiene is to avoid napping. If you have trouble sleeping, you may find yourself tempted to take naps during the day, but this can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it harder to fall asleep at night when you need to.
Unplug from electronics
Another good way to improve your sleep hygiene is to build a 30 to 60-minute buffer time before you go to bed that is device-free. Phones, tablets, and computers can all cause mental stimulation, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Studies have also found that the blue light from electronic screens negatively impacts the body’s natural sleep cycle.
Make sure you have a comfortable environment
Everyone has different preferences for what makes them comfortable enough to fall asleep. If you’re struggling, you may want to experiment with your environment to find the conditions that are right for you.
This can be anything from the room temperature, the amount of ambient light in your bedroom, or even the hardness of your mattress.
3. Avoid caffeine and food in the evening
Our diet plays an incredibly important role when it comes to falling asleep, which is why it’s important to take it seriously.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, you may want to consider altering your diet, particularly if it involves excessive caffeine consumption. Not only does caffeine affect your body’s ability to fall asleep but it also results in lower quality sleep, meaning that you’ll be more tired the following day.
You should also try to avoid large meals late into the evening, as digesting the meal can interrupt your sleep patterns. If you’re hungry in the evening, try snacking on something small, such as nuts, rather than eating a full meal.
4. Make a sleep schedule and stick to it
Going to sleep and getting up at a regular time is another good way to fight insomnia, as it essentially programs your body to sleep better.
All people have a natural internal cycle called the “Circadian Rhythm” which regulates your sleep. While this cycle is slightly different for everybody, you can influence it by setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it.
Over time, your circadian cycle will adapt, and you should find it easier to fall asleep in the evening.
5. Consider sleep restriction
If you’ve tried all other methods of fighting insomnia and are still struggling, you could consider trying “sleep restriction”.
The name of this technique is somewhat misleading as it doesn’t actually limit the amount of time asleep, but rather the amount of time spent in bed. This helps to improve the quality of sleep, as you spend less time tossing and turning.
For example, you may go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 7am, but only sleep around 6 hours per night. However, with this technique you instead aim to be in bed for only six hours, in this example from 11pm to 5am.
It may sound unpleasant, but studies have found that sleep restriction markedly decreases the amount of time spent awake at night.
Once you have got used to this schedule, you can then slowly begin to extend the time in bed by 15 or 30 minutes, as long as the quality of sleep does not suffer.