Many people think the term “insomnia” refers to a complete lack of sleep. In truth, insomnia encompasses a host of sleep problems, including:
Difficulty falling asleep
Waking up in the middle of the night
Early morning awakening
Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Getting insufficient sleep can:
Cause fatigue, irritability, and excessive daytime sleepiness
Cause weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight
Weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick
Cause elevated blood pressure and can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease
Contribute to chronic pain
Exacerbate mental illness, including depression and anxiety
Reduce focus and concentration, leading to decreased performance at work
Decrease motor function, making driving hazardous
Create good Habits
There are a range of habits that can help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply. Making these a regular part of your daily routine can help to embed them in your lifestyle and improve your sleeping patterns on an ongoing basis.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule (same bedtime and wake-up time), seven days a week.
Exercise at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. Restrict vigorous exercise to the morning or afternoon. More relaxing exercise, like yoga can be done before bed if you find this helps you to relax and unwind from the day’s events.
Get plenty of natural light exposure during the day. Open your blinds first thing in the morning and get outside during the day.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
Take a warm bath or shower before bed.
Do relaxation exercises before bed, including mindful breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
Make sure your sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. Your bed should be comfortable, and your room shouldn’t be too hot, too cold, or too bright. If necessary, use earplugs and an eyemask.
Be sure your pillow is comfortable.
Don’t work, eat or watch TV in bed.
Go to bed when sleepy, and get out of bed if you’re tossing and turning.
Turn your clock around so you can’t see the time.
Turn off the alert for texts and emails on your phone.
Keep a “worry journal.” If something’s on your mind as you’re trying to fall asleep, write it down on a pad of paper so you can revisit it the next day.
If you’re unable to fall asleep after about 20 minutes, leave bed and do something relaxing (like reading); return to bed later.
Put the computer away an hour before bedtime!
Don’t drink caffeinated drinks afternoon.
Don’t have that second glass of wine. Although alcohol can help you to get to sleep it tends to result in poor sleep quality and reduce the amount of deep sleep you gain during the night.
Don’t eat a large, heavy meal close to bedtime.
Don’t watch TV, use the computer or spend long periods on a mobile device before bed. These activities stimulate the brain, making it more difficult for you to sleep.
Don’t give in to the urge to nap during the day; it can disturb the normal sleep/wakefulness pattern.