Insomnia can be tough to handle but the key is to approach it from various angles – just as you would any stubborn problem! For some, medication is seen as a tried and tested solution. While it does work, it can also cause dependency. A safer answer is to apply natural remedies. Around one in four Americans develop insomnia every year. 75 percent recover but the other 25 percent remain poor sleepers. Out of these, 6 percent develop chronic insomnia. With such a high figure, it’s important to find effective and safe solutions for better sleep.
It may sound strange but what you eat can influence how well or poorly you sleep. Excess sugar can give you a short-lived boost of energy and mess up blood sugar levels. Caffeine-based foods and drinks can also keep you awake. Concentrate on having foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin, both of which can help you sleep. These include whole grain crackers, spinach, soy, and nuts. You should also have foods that contain vitamin B6 to help your body convert tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin. Potatoes, vegetables, and bread are some sources.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a process that helps you change thoughts and actions that can interfere with the ability to sleep. For instance, you’ll learn not to use the bed for anything other than sleep and sex. It also restricts the amount of time you spend in bed. If you stay in bed for 8 hours but only sleep for 6, CBT lets you be in bed only for 6 hours even if you want to sleep more. This restriction gradually helps you fall asleep faster and prevents interruptions at night. There are other CBT techniques such as muscle relaxation and breathing that help you alter your inability to sleep.
Meditation is known to calm the mind to encourage sleep. For many people with insomnia, racing thoughts and stress are what keep them up. By learning to shift your focus to something that does not stress you, you can better enable sleep. What’s great about meditation is that you don’t need to spend an hour at it. You can start out with 10 minutes and once you become familiar with it, you can lengthen it to 30 minutes and more. In a study published in Jama Internal Medicine, a group of participants was made to undergo mindfulness awareness practices and a second group was taught sleep hygiene education. Those in the mindfulness group showed better outcomes with less insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
Exercise, whether it’s conventional workouts or yoga, can help you sleep better. It’s not exactly clear how but it’s known that it increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get. During this sleep stage, the body and brain have a chance to rejuvenate. Regular exercise can also de-stress you and boost your mood so that you transition more easily to sleep. Do keep in mind that exercising late in the day can raise core body temperature. A lower temperature is associated with sleep so if it’s high, you’ll feel more awake. Exercise timing doesn’t apply to everyone but if you feel too alert after a late exercise session, time it for earlier in the day.
Exposing yourself to natural light helps reset the circadian rhythm, an internal process that’s responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This rhythm responds to light and darkness. Soon after you wake, go outdoors for about 30 minutes or so under direct sunlight. Avoid wearing sunglasses and sun visors. If you can’t go out for any reason, you can purchase a light box and sit near it for the same period. During this time, don’t look at the box but read or occupy yourself with something. Note: Speak to your doctor if you plan to use a light box in case you have an eye condition or sensitive skin.
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A quiet, dark and clutter-free bedroom is more conducive to sleep than one that’s messy and noisy. You can use blackout blinds to shut out streetlights and wear earplugs to block noise. Tidying your sleeping space prevents the mind from focusing on the mess and interfering with sleep. Along with these, use a properly designed mattress to support your body.
The Nuvanna mattress is carefully designed to provide comfort and support. The brainchild of a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience, it features three layers that perform three functions. The top layer keeps the body cool by drawing out body heat and dispersing it with the help of phase-changing gel particles. The middle layer isolates motion and allows you and yours to sleep without interruption. The bottom layer supports each part of your body, including the spine, and keeps you from sinking in.
Insomnia can’t be beaten overnight. It takes time and effort. Natural remedies can help facilitate sleep and make for a much safer solution than relying on medication that has the potential for dependency. If you still find it difficult to sleep, consult your doctor or a sleep specialist who can prescribe treatment that’s specific to your needs.