Health & Wellness

5 ways to keep insomnia at bay

Courtney Rupertus
5 ways to keep insomnia at bay

Almost every single one of us has experienced a sleepless night or two, so we know exactly how frustrating it can be to spend hour after hour checking the clock to see that another hour has passed and yet we are still awake.

Insomnia can be defined as difficulty falling asleep despite the fact that you may be exhausted. About 30 - 40% of adults deal with insomnia on a regular basis. Not sleeping well or not sleeping at all through the night can increase the level of stress you feel, make you less productive during the day, and dare we say, a little cranky.

There are several triggers for insomnia: sometimes its caused by medication, sometimes it’s a symptom of depression or anxiety, sometimes it’s influenced by certain foods, and mostly it has to do with our lifestyle and poor sleep habits.

These five tips will be most effective for insomnia caused by poor bedtime habits, but they wouldn’t hurt to try if you are dealing with depression or anxiety - it just likely won’t be the only solution.

First of all, your smartphone is a likely culprit when it comes to most cases of insomnia. All of our screen time, whether it be checking emails before bed or watching a TV show, suppress the production of melatonin (which is necessary to make us feel sleepy), and gives off enough light to stimulate the brain and make it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Secondly, a lousy sleep schedule makes it harder for your body to sleep well because it constantly has to adjust and readjust to your different sleep and wake times. Our bodies respond very well to a set schedule (which sounds like no fun at all), but just this one simple change can really reduce fatigue during the day and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Try setting a bedtime and a wakeup time that best fits your lifestyle, even if it means waking up at 6 am on a Sunday, and do your best to stick to it until your body finds the natural rhythm.

If you’re having trouble sleeping due to a restless mind, meditation can really help. For a lot of us, we suppress our stressors and worries for most of the day (while we are awake), but they find their way to the surface as soon as we try to lay our heads down in the dark, quiet of our bedrooms. Meditation allows you to acknowledge these thoughts and feelings, not suppress them, while simultaneously telling your nervous system it can relax.

You could also try incorporating a gentle yoga practice into your new bedtime routine. Instead of screen time, you can dim the lights or light a candle and practice winding your body down for bed. Simple poses like happy baby, legs up the wall, or child’s pose can help you relax and prepare for a great night’s sleep.

Lastly, acupuncture or massage therapy can help your body bring itself back into balance. If you have stress, you have an imbalance. Getting regular massage or acupuncture treatments can help alleviate insomnia, reduce stress, and help calm the mind and settle the nervous system. All of which are hugely beneficial for your overall wellness. Just remember to seek out a registered practitioner that you can trust.