When you have trouble sleeping through the night, it can throw your life off kilter for a day or two. Now imagine if every night was a struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, never allowing you to receive all the benefits of a good night’s sleep, lasting weeks, months, or even years. This is the reality that people with sleep disorders like insomnia face every day. While our brains shut down every night in preparation for the next day, their internal batteries never have the chance to recharge. If you’re experiencing insomnia and are looking for some easy ways to treat it, here are some things you can do at home to help treat your insomnia.
- If you haven’t already, cut out caffeine.
- This isn’t so much a treatment for insomnia as it is prevention from it, and it also includes nicotine and alcohol. These substances all affect how well you sleep, with caffeine and nicotine stimulating your system too much to fall asleep and alcohol working as a biphasic, both stimulating you and sedating you. While you should never be drinking caffeine right before bed, even a glass of wine before bed could be affecting your sleep. If you’ve stopped using these substances within a few hours of falling asleep and the problem persists, try cutting them out altogether.
- Limit your screen time.
- Studies indicate that the ‘blue light’ emitted from screens on your tech devices — cellphones, tablets, laptops and desktops alike — inhibits the production of melatonin in your brain’s pineal gland, especially in teenagers. Melatonin is the hormone your brain releases that helps control your circadian rhythm, aka your sleep cycle and causes you to feel sleepy around bedtime. When production is disturbed, it can throw off your sleep cycle by not allowing you to feel tired or fall asleep at the appropriate time. To avoid your screens disrupting your rest, put down your devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
- Don’t lay in bed if you can’t sleep.
- If you’re having difficulty sleeping for longer than 20 minutes after you lay down, the best thing to do is get back up until you start to feel tired. While this may seem like it’s disrupting your body from falling to sleep, laying in bed when you can’t fall asleep time after time creates a link in your brain between being in bed and difficulty sleeping which will only perpetuate the problem. If you can’t fall asleep, get up and try reading a book or doing another quiet, non-screen related activity.
- Make yourself a bedtime routine.
- The human body is a creature of habit. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, we associate certain activities with certain things in our lives. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, one remedy is getting your body back into its regular sleep habit, and a bedtime routine can help with that. For the 20-30 minutes leading up to your bedtime, have a series of activities — like putting lotion on your hands, brushing your hair, etc. — that will help relax you and get your body ready for sleep. As your body learns that these activities mean it’s time to rest, it will become easier to fall asleep.