Having a sleep-wake disorder is very difficult. If you or a loved one is struggling with insomnia, then there are some strategies to help!
When experiencing insomnia, people either struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. Lighter sleep REM cycles occur toward the early morning hours, then leads to constantly being awake. Expect the deepest sleep to be in the beginning portion of the natural sleep duration.
Read the following 11 tips to help you or someone you love manage and cope with their insomnia.
Trouble falling asleep…
- Alcohol: this substance appears to have a sedative effect directly after consumption, however it tends to cause arousal effects in sleep as it begins to exit the body.
- Caffeine: to be on the safe side stop consuming any caffeine 6 hours prior to bedtime. This includes all stimulants as well as some prescription medications that have stimulants. Check with a doctor regarding your medications and the effects on your sleep regime.
- Exercise: this is a great intervention to wear your body out physically, that signals to the brain hours later “it is time to rest.” When exercising, give yourself at least 3 hours before bedtime. This can act as a stimulant, which you want to avoid immediately before you want to go to sleep.
- Eating: allow at least 4 hours before bedtime when consuming any foods, and even some liquids with sugar. Even in the early morning hours your digestive system will be working hard to distribute nutrients to your body. This absolutely will cause you stay awake and constantly go to the bathroom.
- Routine: maintain same bedtime and wake time every day, once your body drifts away from your natural sleep-wake cycle then your deep REM cycle sleep will be disrupted leading you to feel very tired the next day regardless how long you think you slept.
Trouble staying asleep…
- Environment: maintain comfortable room temperature, quiet, and create your space into a dark cave.
- Napping: avoid daytime naps regardless of how tired you feel. This will push your sleep-wake cycle off the tracks.
- Sound: purchase a dome if possible to create white noise. Experts state that different sounds with various pitches create more distruptions while sleeping.
- Awake: if you cannot fall back asleep, can get out of your bed, conduct relaxing activities (i.e. reading, stretching). Avoid conducting any other activities, besides sex and sleep for your bed. Your brain will attribute that your bed can be used to be active rather than to be relaxed.
- Blue Spectrum: avoid phones, tablets, or any other technological devices next to your body, the types of lighting will impede your sleep.
- Brain Power: utilize all forms of stress reduction intervention, engage in relaxation exercises (i.e. progressive muscle relaxation, guided meditation, yoga, praying, deep breathing/abdominal breathing). Place a notepad near your bed. When you wake up and worry about that crucial thought, give yourself permission to write it down and tackle it the next day.
If you have attempted all of these strategies and you find nothing is working for you, then consider participating in cognitive behavioral therapy to identify irrational thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that are disrupting your sleep. Then learn how to reprogram your brain to quickly correct the irrationalities in order to obtain your goals for better sleep!
If you or loved one is suffering from a sleeping disorder, be sure to share these strategies on how to identify and manage symptoms.
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