Insomnia can be caused by medical and psychiatric conditions, certain substances, unhealthy sleep habits, and specific biological factors. Researchers have recently begun to look at insomnia as an issue of your brain, not being able to keep you from staying awake.
Our brains have a sleep and wake cycle—when one is turned off the other is turned on—insomnia can hinder either part of this cycle: too little sleep drive or too much wake drive. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what’s causing your sleep difficulties.
What Are the Medical Causes of Insomnia?
Several medical conditions lead to insomnia. In most cases, the condition itself can cause insomnia, while in some cases, the symptoms of a certain condition cause discomfort which makes it difficult for you to sleep.
Below are a few medical conditions that can cause insomnia:
- Gastrointestinal issues (e.g., reflux)
- Sinus/nasal allergies
- Low back pain
- Chronic pain
- Endocrine issues (e.g., hyperthyroidism)
- Neurological conditions (e.g., Parkinson’s disease)
Furthermore, medications taken for nasal allergies, common cold, heart disease, high blood pressure, birth control, thyroid disease, and depression can cause insomnia. If you have trouble sleeping regularly, it’s essential to check your health and determine if any sleep disorders or underlying medical conditions are contributing to your sleep deprivation.
However, in most cases, there are a few steps you can take to improve your sleep. Below are the ten best methods for beating insomnia.
#1: Keep Regular Sleep Hours
If you’re suffering from insomnia, consider getting up at the same time each day to train your body and brain to wake at a specific, consistent time. Doing this can be very challenging for people who live a hectic lifestyle. But if you want to get at least eight hours every night, you should be willing to do this.
#2: Make Sure to Sleep on a Comfortable Bed
We all crave for a good night’s sleep. We want to sleep completely relaxed and stress-free. However, it’s not easy to get a good night’s sleep on a mattress that is either too hard or too soft or a bed too small or old. Therefore, you need to ensure your bed is comfortable and can provide restful sleep. When shopping for the right mattress, keep the following factors in mind:
- Composition and Construction
- User Reviews/Feedbacks
- Trial Policy
Aside from buying the right bed, you should also invest in high-quality pillows. A premium buckwheat pillow is a great option because its material can perfectly mold the shape of your neck and head. Using this kind of pillow can also reduce snoring and muscle pains, making it easier for you to get better sleep every single night.
#3: Create a Peaceful Sleeping Environment
Your bedroom should provide a restful environment for sleep. Lighting, noise, and temperature should be modified so the bedroom vibe can help you fall asleep quickly. If you have a cat or dog and that sleeps with you in the same room, consider moving it elsewhere as they often cause a disturbance in the middle of the night.
Any gadgets (smartphones and laptops) should be removed from your bedroom, as well. This is because these emit blue lights that can increase your energy and make it hard for you to sleep at night. These gadgets can also become a distraction because instead of getting some shuteye, you’ll likely see yourself replying to emails if you know these gadgets are within reach in your bedroom.
If your work requires you to sleep in the morning, exert extra effort to make your bedroom darker. Aside from the mentioned tips, putting some weatherstripping in the bottom of your door can also prevent the light from coming in. You can also invest in some blackout curtains to maintain the darkness and coolness of your bedroom even during daytime.
#4: Limit Naps
While napping may seem like the best way to catch up on your missed sleep, it’s not always the same case. You must create and follow a regular sleep pattern. Also, you need to train yourself to associate sleep with cues (e.g., darkness) and a consistent bedtime.
Remember, napping affects the quality of your nighttime sleep. You should avoid taking naps at least three hours before your bedtime because doing so can keep you up all night. Some people might even completely lose sleep because they took a nap when it’s about their bedtime.
#5: Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a powerful antioxidant. It contains sedative properties that help in relieving stress and enhancing sleep. It also helps clean your blood and control the nervous system, which claims the inflamed tissues. Here’s what you can do:
- Step 1: Take a glass full of boiling water.
- Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of chamomile flowers in it
- Step 3: Keep it covered for at least 10 minutes
- Step 4: Drink up!
Repeat the steps and consume it every day for at least 2-3 weeks to reap chamomile’s benefits.
#6: Exercise Regularly
Regular workouts can enhance sleep duration and quality. However, working out immediately prior to your bedtime could have a stimulant effect on your body; thus, it should be avoided. Consider finishing your workout session at least 3 hours before you go to bed. Working out later can keep you up at night because exercising can boost your energy.
Have a nice, warm bath and do yoga to relax your body and mind after your workout, as well.
#7: Eliminate Alcohol and Other Stimulants
The effects of caffeine tend to last for hours. Therefore, the odds of caffeine affecting your sleep are high.
Caffeine causes not only sleep deprivation, but also frequent awakenings. Alcohol might have sedative effects for the first couple of hours following consumption. However, it can cause frequent arousals and poor sleep at night. If you’re on medications that work as stimulants (e.g., asthma inhalers or decongestants), consult with your doctor regarding when you should take them to help minimize any potential effect on your sleep.
#8: Limit Activities In Bed
“Only use your bed for sex and sleep,” says sleep experts. If you have insomnia, don’t play games or make phone calls while in bed. Also, avoid watching TV or listening to podcasts. These activities tend to increase alertness and cause sleep deprivation.
#9: Avoid Overindulging
Too much alcohol or food, especially at night, can mess up your sleep schedule. Many believe alcohol helps you fall asleep quickly. While there’s some truth to that, it will definitely disrupt your sleep after a few hours.
Conversely, you should never go to bed feeling hungry as this can also become the reason why you’ll have a hard time sleeping. Your dining should just be enough to make you feel full–anything less or more can disrupt your sleep schedule.
#10: Consider Cognitive Therapy
As you may already know, cognitive therapy is known to help those suffering from insomnia. It allows you to identify and correct unusual thoughts and beliefs which could be contributing to insomnia.
Moreover, cognitive therapy provides accurate information about age-related sleep changes, sleep norms, and help set appropriate sleep goals, among many other things.
If you find yourself lying in bed, planning things for the next day, consider adjusting a specific time—maybe after dinner—to make plans for tomorrow. The goal is to keep your mind relaxed and avoid thinking about such things while trying to get some sleep.
Furthermore, there are several stress relief techniques you can consider to relax your body and mind before jumping onto the bed. Examples include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, imagery, and biofeedback.
If you still cannot sleep, don’t just lie there stressing over it. Get up and do something interesting, something that might help you relax a bit until you feel like sleeping again. Also, don’t forget to consult with your insomnia doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping on a regular basis.
If you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with others, and leave a comment below for further queries.
Author bio: Gary Peterson is working at MarijuanaDetox.net. He was born and raised in New York. He likes traveling and taking gorgeous photos of nature. Rock music is something that inspires him.