Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Try These 10 Sleep Hacks if You’re Suffering from Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most frustrating types of health issues to overcome and it can lead to major health consequences later on.

Luckily, there are some helpful sleep hacks that you can take advantage of to help you overcome insomnia more easily than relying on over-the-counter sleeping pills and even prescription drugs.

First, before we dive into the solutions for insomnia, let’s take a look at why insomnia occurs.

Identifying the triggers of your insomnia will help you be able to overcome sleepless nights more easily and is important for helping you avoid insomnia in the future as much as possible.

Insomnia often occurs due to three main reasons:

reason for insomnia

1. Out of Balance Melatonin Levels

Melatonin levels in the body have been disrupted leading to your body not realizing when it’s time to go to bed. The result is you lying in bed wide awake not feeling a bit tired.

Melatonin is a hormone just like your other hormones and it’s triggered by the rise and fall of the sun. It works with your body’s circadian rhythms and is triggered by the rise and fall of the sun.

Hormonal imbalances can lead to disrupted melatonin levels which can cause your body to secrete less melatonin. This leaves you awake and not able to fall asleep no matter what else you try.

Hormones such as cortisol, your stress hormone, also prevent melatonin from being produced which keeps you in a state of alert.

Since hormones work together synergistically, even sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone can disrupt melatonin levels. This is one reason why many women who are in perimenopause and menopause deal with insomnia more than women of other ages.

2. Stress

Stress can also lead to insomnia by an imbalance of hormones or from circumstances you are dealing with in life. And while you can’t make your stressors disappear overnight, being more aware of how they’re affecting your sleep can help you learn which types of actions are available to help you deal with your stress more effectively resulting in better sleep.

Stress can also affect many other areas of your health leading to an imbalance in hormones which can then trigger melatonin levels to become out of balance.

3. Lifestyle Factors

This is one of the top causes of insomnia and one of the easiest to avoid and overcome. Lifestyle factors can include your diet, exercise, hygiene, and work schedule.

As you’ll see down below, dietary changes, maintaining optimal exercise schedules, using specific hygienic tools, and optimizing your work schedule can all help you achieve healthier sleep levels in no time.

10 Sleep Hacks to Overcome Insomnia

1. Get Blackout Shades

black out shades

Blackout shades omit all the light in your room and studies have shown that complete darkness helps you go to sleep much easier. Blackout shades will help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly by improving the chances of your body producing melatonin more easily.

See, melatonin can only be adequately produced in complete darkness after sunset has occurred.

Using blackout shades is also helpful since daylight savings time changes what time it gets dark outside in the summer. Longer days and shorter nights offset your body’s natural secretion of melatonin, so putting up some blackout shades in your bedroom around 7 or 8 p.m. can greatly improve your body’s tendencies to fall asleep more easily.

2. Eat Dinner Early

eat dinner early

Eating dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime is also important to overcome insomnia.

Your body is more active when it’s working to digest your food and many of your digestive organs even become less efficient as the night goes on. Eating right before bed leaves many people awake for no other reason except their bodies are trying to digest their food instead of falling asleep as they should be.

Don’t go to bed starving, but do attempt to plan your meals a little earlier in the evening.

If you find yourself needing a small snack before bed, choose something very easy on the stomach and made of complex carbs which can help you fall asleep more easily.

Good options are a small bowl of oatmeal, a banana, or a piece of sprouted grain toast with a little peanut butter.

3. Don’t Exercise Right Before Bedtime

don't exercise before bed

If you’re squeezing in your workout at the end of a long work day, that might not be helping your insomnia very much.

One of the best sleep hacks you can try is to exercise earlier in the day. Not only will this improve your metabolism all day long but it will also cause you to be more tired come bedtime.

Our bodies are in a small state of alert after we workout because exercise triggers two stress hormones that increase energy levels: cortisol and adrenaline. While this is healthy in a short range of time, it’s also not helpful when you should be relaxing and attempting to wind down.

Generally speaking, exercising anytime before 5 p.m. is a great range to shoot for in order to fall asleep more easily at night.

4. Take up Yoga or Meditation

take yoga meditation

Even though you might not be interested in these two sleep hacks to help you overcome insomnia, you might want to give them a second thought.

Yoga and meditation can both help your body produce more of the amino acid GABA. GABA acts like a hormone in the body and can help your body relax and fall asleep more easily. It can also reduce cravings for unhealthy foods and even improve your overall stress levels.

Yoga and meditation are also two key tools many people use to deal with stressors in their life. It’s a great idea to start your day with yoga or meditation as well as end with 10 minutes of each of them too.

Remember, you don’t need a lot. Even mild yogic stretching and mindfully contemplating on your day in the quiet in a dark room can relax you enough to fall asleep more easily.

You can also find meditation apps and find free yoga videos on YouTube if you’re looking for free ways to explore these sleep hacks.

5. Try an Epsom Salt Bath

relaxing bath

When it comes to your hygiene habits, using specific tools such as Epsom salts can help you overcome insomnia more easily.

Epsom salts are natural mineral-rich salts that are high in a certain type of magnesium. When used topically, this form of magnesium can greatly improve sleep levels as the salts soak into your skin and enter your bloodstream.

Magnesium salts help relax the body and trigger your body to feel more sleepy and relaxed. It can also help your muscles relax and relieve inflammation in the muscles after workouts.

Toss in one cup of Epsom salts to a warm, slightly hot bath and soak for 10 minutes if you can.

It’s a great way to reduce stress and help your body feel more sleepy all in one. Epsom salts are readily available at most drug stores and health food stores nationwide and are very inexpensive.

6. Use Lavender and Chamomile Essential Oils

essentials oils

Every type of essential oil has a different benefit for your health.

While peppermint can energize and uplift you, lavender and chamomile can help you relax and fall asleep more easily. These two can also improve digestion by reducing stress hormones which tend to negatively affect gut health.

So try adding a drop or two of lavender or chamomile to your bath at night to help you fall asleep more quickly.

Many people also like using a pillow that has been washed with lavender or chamomile essential oils for the same benefits.

7. Sip Some Herbal Tea

sip herbal tea

Herbal tea is also a great natural remedy that you can use to help you overcome insomnia. It works in the same ways as essential oils and can also provide many other health benefits depending on the type you select.

When choosing herbal teas to help you fall asleep, look for ones that target sleep. Many sleepytime and bedtime teas are readily available.

Or, you can simply buy chamomile or lavender tea as two other options. Add a squeeze of lemon and a drop of honey or some stevia to sweeten your tea, and sip your way to better slumber in no time!

8. Avoid Stimulating Foods

simulating foods

Certain foods can also trigger stimulation in the body which leaves you wide awake and unable to fall asleep. These foods can also cause erratic digestion and even heartburn which can also keep you awake.

The most common stimulating foods include peppers, spicy seasonings such as cayenne and paprika, garlic, onion, chocolate, coffee, black tea, high-fat foods, and foods especially high in added sugars (such as cookies, ice cream, and cereal).

Choose a more balanced, relaxing meal with some complex carbs such as whole grains, lean protein, and smaller amounts of fat. This will provide an optimal balance of nutrients for your body, and the complex carbs and protein will improve amino acid levels in the body which trigger relaxation more easily.

9. Put Away The Computer

put away the computer

Most all of us stay up late too way either working or staring at our computers for whatever other reasons we may be doing so.

While it can feel relaxing to do this, staring at a bright computer screen with UV rays is like having your shades wide open—it prevents your body from producing melatonin like it should be. This keeps you in alert mode and prevents you from drifting off to sleep.

So put away your computer at least one hour before bed if you can.

Try to read a magazine, book, or journal before bed. Each of these activities can help you relax and reduce stress levels to help you overcome insomnia more easily.  

If you must do something before bed on your computer, then purchase some non-prescription glasses that block UV rays. While they aren’t as optimal as not looking at your computer at all, they can help prevent excessive stimulation from UV rays before bedtime.

10. Be Sure the Room is Cool

cool the room

Most people fall asleep much more easily in a cool room versus a warmer room. So turn your thermostat down by a few degrees at night or consider turning on a fan or getting a stand-up fan for your room. Just the slightest bit of change in temperature can help you fall asleep more easily and more quickly.

You can also try sleeping in cooler clothing, and take one or two of your blankets off the bed during the warmer months if you’re not already.

Last Resorts to Overcome Insomnia:
last resort

If you’ve been trying all of the sleep hacks above to overcome insomnia and are still having issues, you can also try natural supplements before resorting to prescription drugs.

Many people benefit from taking melatonin supplements temporarily to help them fall asleep more easily. 

Magnesium supplements can also be purchased to help you fall asleep easier at night and help your body relax.

Many people are deficient in both magnesium and melatonin, so supplementing with these is a safe option to try if none of the above seem to be working for you.

Another tip is to get up and read a book for 30 minutes and then try falling asleep again. Whatever you do, don’t open your computer or stare at your phone where UV rays will prevent you from falling asleep as mentioned above.

For other ways to overcome insomnia, you can also check out these tips to fall asleep faster. Remember, your sleep health is in your hands so give some of these sleep hacks a try and see how they work for you!

The post Try These 10 Sleep Hacks if You’re Suffering from Insomnia appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.

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