Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting adults in the United States. Over 30 percent of adults deal with the symptoms of sleeplessness and fatigue at least part of the time, while 10 percent are diagnosed with chronic insomnia that occurs at least three times a week or more. Insomnia can be a frustrating problem that can affect your work life, your social life, and your general health. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t fight back. If you’re struggling with insomnia, here are a few ways to work toward getting a full night’s sleep again.
Don’t Force It
If it’s 3 a.m. and your body doesn’t want to go to sleep, tossing and turning isn’t going to do you any good. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore your body’s needs and try to push through the sleepiness. It simply means that when you try to force your body to sleep, it’s not going to respond. If you’re having trouble trying to get to sleep, looking at the clock or staying in bed past 15 minutes won’t do you any good. Instead, try taking a walk, doing some stretches, or journaling. If you’re still not feeling sleepy afterward, try listening to some white noise and drinking a glass of milk or a slice of tryptophan-rich turkey.
Deal With Your Stress
For many sufferers of chronic insomnia, trying to get to the root of their problem is the most helpful medicine. While insomnia may be attributed to a new medication, a genetic problem, or a change in your health or hormones (like menopause,) it often has a lot to do with personal stress levels. Many insomnia patients have found courses of cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thought patterns and harmful routines, to be a helpful start. With a CBT guide, you’ll be able to work to figure out what your stressors are and try to change any unhelpful patterns in your life that are contributing to your stress. You’ll also be able to learn about better methods for sleep hygiene and stimulus control therapy to help you fall asleep.
Try Natural Sleep Aids
While there are plenty of sleep aids on the market that will help you fall asleep easily, you might not need to look much further than your own fridge, especially if you’re dealing with a condition that isn’t chronic. Certain herbs and supplements can act as natural aids to sleep, like melatonin, which helps reset your circadian rhythm, or chamomile, valerian, and St. John’s Wort tea, which will help calm your system and reduce stress. If you’re someone who enjoys a bedtime snack, try tryptophan-heavy foods like turkey, or foods that are rich in calcium like milk and bananas.
Cut Down on Technology
When searching for a culprit to blame for the insomnia epidemic among adults, look no further than the presence of brightly lit phones and mechanical devices that we simply can’t seem to escape. Not only is the blue light of a phone strangely addictive, it can send the wrong signals to our brains about sleep. Turning off devices at least an hour before bed can go a long way toward helping us adjust to sleep. When we’re constantly using technology, not only does it trick us into feeling falsely stimulated and awake, it also tends to increase our stress levels. Since stress is the primary cause of anxiety in the first place, technology is to be avoided at all costs in the hours leading up to bedtime.