Do you often struggle to fall asleep? Are you restless at night? Can’t get a wink of sleep? You’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, insomnia affects nearly 50% of the American population and the effects of insomnia are rampant with senior citizens. However, insomnia has no age boundaries and can affect anyone from children, to teenagers, to grown adults.
Unless you are suffering from a medical condition, anxiety and stress are the most common culprits of insomnia. According to health experts, anxiety and nervousness can make it extremely difficult to relax and fall asleep, and therefore, you should aim at relaxing your body before you go to bed.
Importance of a Good Night Sleep
Benefits of sleep go beyond making you feel better, boosting your mood, or banishing under-eye circles. Sleep is vital for keeping you alive and fully functional. The consequences of inadequate sleep range from lower productivity levels, weight gain, development of moods, but most the most severe consequence is cognitive impairment and the effect on the overall health of the brain.
If you want to learn how to coax yourself into dreamland as soon as you lay your head on the pillow, then read on. In the article below, we compiled a list of scientifically-supported methods that include relaxation techniques, distraction exercises, and other methods to prepare you for a fulfilling night’s rest.
1. Force Yourself to Stay Awake
Is there anything that reverse psychology is not good for? Sleep is natural to all living creatures and is programmed into us before birth, and our bodies need it. Paradoxically, if you change from desperately trying to fall asleep to trying to stay awake, the anxiety and nervousness that comes with not falling asleep slowly fade away, allowing sleep to happen. However, this reverse psychology method is not a long-term solution, but rather only good on a short-term basis.
2. Take a Shower
The science behind taking a steamy shower is that once you exit the shower, your body temperature drops rapidly. Consequently, a drop in body temperature triggers a sleepy feeling. This sleepy, groggy feeling is attributed to the slowing down of biological processes such as heart rate, and digestion.
Alternatively, if you’re not able to take a steamy shower, submerge your face in ice-cold water. Cold water triggers an involuntary phenomenon known as Mammalian Dive Reflex. This reflex resets your nervous system and lowers your heart rate as well as your blood pressure - therefore inviting a soothing sleep.
3. Prepare Your Body
Sleep is a biological process that is easily affected by any process that affects your psychological system, especially the nervous system. For a start, after arriving home from work, why not change into your pajamas immediately? Changing into comfortable clothing will program your mind to relax and prepare for sleep.
Also, research indicates that wearing socks can help you get to sleep quickly. Wearing socks after work dilates your blood vessels and can assist in the flow of blood for more optimal temperatures for snoozing.
4. Avoid Electronics
Electronics trigger a kind of stimulation that “tells” your brain to stay alert when it’s supposed to be unwinding. Also, an increasing number of studies indicate that electronic devices disrupt your quality of sleep by disrupting the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone, which is vital for a fulfilling sleep.
Darkness can stimulate your brain to produce melatonin, and according to health experts, it’s another reason why you should switch off all your electronic devices an hour or two before going to bed.
5. Stick to a Routine
One effective strategy for overcoming restlessness and insomnia is going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day, even during weekends and holidays. Your body forms habits, and when you set a schedule for several weeks, your body becomes accustomed to that schedule - it relaxes and gets ready for sleep at a certain “predetermined” time without consciously trying.
6. Keep a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can improve your sleep by reducing stress levels. Some of the healthy lifestyle choices that you can engage in include exercise, meditation, and a properly balanced diet.
Do not exercise within three hours of sleep as your adrenaline system will keep you awake. Also, do not overeat and do not eat within two hours of sleep as your digestive system will be working to digest your food which can lead to restlessness and discomfort.