Not being able to sleep can be a pretty common problem until it starts to seep into your daily life. Insomnia is a real life sleep disorder, and I’ve had firsthand accounts on what it can do to you and your health. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, waking up in the night and feeling tired upon waking. To some, it may seem like an elementary problem– “just close your eyes and sleep.” But to the sleepless, this advice is hopeless. There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary. The first is a direct influence on the individual, while the latter is a result of something else, like a medical condition or medication. There’s also acute and chronic insomnia, one of which happens one night to three weeks, and the other which lasts a long time, respectively. Things like stress, inconsistent schedules, poor sleeping habits, and more, could potentially lead to sleepless nights. Here are six simple tips for getting a handle on insomnia.
1. Give Yourself a Bedtime
Although it sounds childish, bedtimes are a great way to start adjusting your sleep schedule. First, pay attention to how much time you spend doing necessary things during the day. Then, focus on what time you could actually be putting to sleep. Through this, you can set a time to go to sleep and a reasonable time to wake up. Having a consistent routine will put your body’s rhythm in motion. Lastly, don’t touch that snooze button! For as nice as it sounds, snoozing your alarm will only knock you off track, and potentially make you late to school or work.
2. Avoid Naps During The Day
I get it; after a night of tossing and turning, a nap sounds like the perfect thing to get you going. In actuality, this only promotes a cycle of sleeplessness. Naps simply knock of you’re body’s sleeping rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep at night because you’re energy is running on high. So while those after school naps may seem like a dream come true, just remember that in the long run, it’s not as helpful as it may seem.
3. Say No to Coffee
Coffee is one of man’s greatest creations, but in terms of helping you sleep, it isn’t so beneficial. The temporary buzz that you get from a quick iced coffee at Starbucks can cause temporary insomnia, nervousness, irritability, rapid heartbeat, and more. Not only does it have a negative effect on the body, but it isn’t very healthy nutrition-wise; there’s enough caffeine in there to keep you running way longer than your body wants to. So instead of a coffee, grab a refreshing water bottle, or even light tea.
4. Make a To-Do List Before Bed
One of the main problems with insomnia patients is that their mind won’t stop wandering; I’ve done this on multiple occasions. Whether it be about tomorrow’s big job presentation, or what you should’ve said in an argument two years ago, thinking about it will only make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, write a list about all the things you’re thinking about. Write a to-do list of tomorrow’s activities, make another list with random things on your mind, and even draw a few pictures to get unwanted memories off the brain. Putting thoughts on paper is a great way to get it out of your head and make it easier to get some rest.
5. Try ASMR
One of the latest internet trends is ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, videos. By simply visiting Youtube and typing it in the search box, you will be introduced to loads of videos with sounds ranging from cutting soap and scratching surfaces to whispering phrases and eating food, all at low levels to promote relaxation. As weird as it sounds, there are numerous accounts of the method actually working. It’s important to be open to new things, so I would definitely give ASMR a try.
6. Talk To a Doctor
After trying all of the methods above, and more, it’s okay to go talk to a doctor. No matter how small and trivial your insomnia seems, remember that it is a real problem that people have the knowledge to help. Usually, speaking to a doctor will result in keeping a sleep diary, trying psychological treatment, and doing extensive surveys. Also, avoid over-the-counter drugs; the effectiveness of them can eventually run dry. Through it all, just know that doctors are there to help you stay healthy and active.
In the end, just remember that insomnia is a real disorder, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. There’s people out there who specialize in treating patients with those issues. It’s always okay to talk about it because your sleep matters.
Photo by Genetic Literacy Program