What could be more enjoyable than a good night’s sleep? If you suffer from insomnia, the answer is probably "nothing". You may need to switch strategies to finally be able to get some rest and experience a full night of beauty sleep.
The first step towards better sleep: analysis
Questioning yourself about the quality of your sleep and your needs is the first step towards restful nights. How many hours do you require to be fully active and healthy? For example, are four good nights out of seven enough? Does getting one extra-long night per week allow you to properly recuperate? Or, on the contrary, do you need seven to eight hours per night on a regular basis? Be honest. Everyone’s needs are different. On average, however, most adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Next, evaluate the nature of your sleep problem:
- difficulty falling asleep;
- waking up often;
- waking up before you need to;
- variable sleep.
Do you watch the news, which are often depressing, right before going to bed? Instead, watch an earlier newscast. End your evening by watching a light, humorous TV show that won’t get you too emotionally involved.
Do you work late into the evening? This keeps your mind busy instead of preparing it for sleep. Instead, take the time to pamper yourself and relax before going to bed. Here are a few ways to do so:
- light reading;
- relaxing bath;
- soft music;
- spending quality time with your loved ones.
Are you rehashing your entire day, or already planning for tomorrow? Put everything down on paper to clear your mind. That way, you won’t forget anything. You could even keep a notebook on your bedside table to jot down the thoughts that pop up in the night. This will allow you to get back to sleep without worrying about losing all of your brilliant ideas.
You can’t fall asleep or get back to sleep? You may be tempted to get up and catch up on work or read a book until you feel your eyelids getting heavy… but don’t! It’s best to stay in bed, keeping the lights low and avoiding stimulating activities.
Do you like to watch television, talk on the phone or browse social media? Screens have a stimulating effect, so it is definitely healthier to ban them and other technological devices when you get ready for bed.
Do you like to have a snack before bedtime? Opt for a light one that is easy to digest. If you have to eat, do it well before going to sleep. Also, avoid drinking, especially alcohol and stimulating beverages.
Do you have a variable schedule? Establish a more regular routine and follow it. Plan for moments of intense activity. Then, plan for calmer activities, especially right before sleep time, and try, as much as possible, to go to bed at the same time every day.
To promote falling sleep and preparing your body and mind for sleep, your bedroom should be a place for rest. You may need to clean up in there:
- Organize your clutter.
- Eliminate to-do piles (clothes to fold, papers to file, etc.).
- Make sure your room is well ventilated and not too dry.
- Turn off all unnecessary sounds and lights before going to bed: television, telephone, computer, etc.
- Make sure you can dim the lights or have soft lighting before you go to bed.
- Get comfortable pillows, blankets and mattress.
For extra help
There are several options available to you in order to implement your new healthy-sleep strategies. The above-mentioned measures are basic tools, but they can be insufficient. Your pharmacist can help you determine which aid might be most helpful to you.
Natural and over-the-counter products
These are often the first choice for temporary, occasional sleeping problems. Talk to your health professional; he or she will help you find the best option for you.
These can be prescribed on a temporary or long-term basis. Your pharmacist will accompany you during this treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and make him or her an ally in your quest for better sleep.
If all else fails, you may need to take things a step further. It may be necessary to get a professional evaluation to properly identify the source of your insomnia and find effective solutions. Sleep clinics offer this type of service.
On your marks, get ready, sleep!
Sleeping well is, first and foremost, a question of lifestyle. You are the only one who can put all the chances on your side to get back to a healthy sleep routine. Be strategic and, especially, determined. Making gradual changes is sometimes more beneficial than rushing too fast to achieve your goal. Your body will hear the signals you are sending and, in return, will help you finally get the rest you deserve!