TIPS FOR DEALING WITH INSOMNIA

In this post, we outline some tips you may like to try if you are suffering wth Insomnia.

Many, many women experiencing Perimenopause, Menopause and Post Menopause have severe trouble sleeping. Whether it is falling asleep or staying asleep, or getting quality sleep, the issue of insomnia seems to affect many of us during midlife. 

Insomnia is a symptom of menopause, of anxiety, of depression and is also a symptom of other mental health disorders. 

It often contributes to even greater anxiety and exacerbates an already fragile mental state. When you are suffering insomnia, it’s all about experimenting to see what works best for you. Read on for the latest scientifically proven tips to help alleviate insomnia. 

1 TURN DOWN LIGHTS.

 Starting after dinner, or approx. 2 hours before bed, turn down all the lights. Change a few lightbulbs to a lower wattage; that way you can turn off the brighter lights and still have some light. 

The reason for this is to encourage your body’s natural melatonin release. Melatonin is released by our bodies naturally when the sun goes down and darkness occurs. So by dimming all the lights it signals the spontaneous delivery to encourage the body to start to slow down.

2 SCHEDULE YOUR SLEEP

This essentially means going to bed at the same time every night and rising at the same time each morning. The reasoning behind this is to find your natural sleep/wake cycle and allow your body to develop a natural routine. 

Have a SET time where you will go to sleep, so ‘your mind’ knows when to expect a rest and when it needs to wake and get going.

3 ELECTRONIC DEVICES

Unfortunately, you cannot get away from this one folks. It is increasingly becoming a major contributor to Insomnia. You must power down your mind by powering down your devices. 

Try this method: 30 mins before your SET bedtime, power off and place ALL devices in another room. (We did, once upon a time, live without mobile phones!)

If you cannot bring yourself to go that far, at least, turn off all devices and cover up the blue light displays. This includes digital clocks and televisions.

4 DITCH ALCOHOL BEFORE BED

While a couple of drinks may send you off to la la land, experts say the quality of that sleep is poor and can upset the longterm ‘wake/sleep cycle’. Insomnia is also linked to alcohol use among adolescents.

5 STOP CONSUMPTION OF CAFFEINE FROM MID AFTERNOON

The National Sleep Foundation identifies caffeine as a source of insomnia as well as anxiety, excessive urination, irritability and rapid heartbeat. Everyone is affected by caffeine in different ways. Experts recommend ceasing consumption of caffeinated drinks and foods from approximately 2pm as a start.

6 DON’T SLEEP DURING THE DAY

Experts recommend eliminating catnaps during the daytime as this upsets the circadian rhythm of the body. If you must indulge, then try to keep dozing times to no more than 30 mins after lunch and well before the evening, as later naps may interfere with the ability to fall asleep at night.

7 QUIT SMOKING . 

Nicotine is a proven stimulant. Even though people smoke in order to relax before bed, they’re actually telling their body to do just the opposite. 

Smoking increases your heart rate and alertness, so you feel more awake when you’re trying to fall asleep. Nicotine can cause insomnia and withdrawal symptoms similar to caffeine. Smoking may also create other sleep disturbances. 

Some research has shown that smokers spend more time sleeping lightly and less time in deep sleep than non-smokers.Until you do quit, limit your cigarettes in the few hours before you go to bed.

8 CREATE A SPACE THAT INDUCES SLEEP 

Your bedroom should be a soothing space that induces rest, relaxation and resonates a sense of peace. In order to encourage a better nights sleep, make this room your sleeping sanctuary by following these tips: 

-Invest in a good mattress and pillows.

-Soft cotton or silk sheets

-Light blocking curtains 

-Eliminate surrounding clutter and chaos

-Bedroom lighting should be soft, not bright

-Banish work from the bedroom. 

-To cool down, wear cool, comfy PJ’s or go ‘Au Naturale’

-When it comes to colour: tone it down, stick to soft muted colours and skip the ‘crayola brights’

-You may also want to remove the pets from your bed. Besides triggering allergies, movement might prevent you from falling or staying asleep.

9 EXERCISE 

Scientific evidence indicates that exercise is an effective natural therapy for insomnia. It improves sleep quality, increases the duration of your nightly rest and is proven to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. 

Studies suggest that aerobic exercise may be particularly effective in helping reduce insomnia symptoms. 

Research also demonstrates that for people with insomnia, the benefits of exercise kick in over time, rather than immediately. 

All studies have found that exercise can help lower the severity of sleep disordered breathing and may help to reduce the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. 

For Insomnia, experts suggest most forms of exercise be done early in the day or, at the latest, 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. Although Yoga or tai chi can be done before bed and may help you sleep. 

10 NIGHTIME SNACKING AND DRINKING 

Evidence warns that large meals and late night snacking just before bed interferes with digestion and thus degrades sleep quality and the ability to fall asleep: leading to Insomnia. Avoid consuming drinks just before going to bed also, as this may lead to your having to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.

11 WHITE NOISE

White noise is a special type of sound signal which is used to mask background sounds.Evidence suggests white noise will help promote a good nights sleep by: 1. Reducing sleep onset time.  2. By becoming part of a calming, nightly routine and 3. Can drown out sounds which might otherwise prevent you from either falling asleep or waking up whilst asleep. 

Many people find the sound of a fan or static to be soothing and cover up other night-time noises that are keeping you awake. There are white noise machines or apps you can put on while you are falling asleep.

12 ESTABLISH A PRESLEEP ROUTINE

The National Sleep Foundation suggests incorporating a night time ritual to discourage insomnia and encourage sleep. 

They recommend the ritual be anywhere from 10 mins to 1 hour. A calming ritual encourages the mind and body to relax.

 This might be reading (make sure it is a light book that you won’t mind putting down), meditating, taking a warm shower, listening to music. NB: There are a number of APPS available that incorporate forms of meditation or mindfulness or calming music. 

BE CAREFUL if you are using these, as they obviously contradict Tip 3. (If you use an app, remember to at least cover your phone or iPad with a dark cloth so the light is not visible).

13 CLOSE THE BOOK ON YOUR WORRIES

It has been suggested that by writing down your worries or concerns in a journal or a notebook and then closing said book, you are subliminally closing the day and saying goodnight to any worries you have.

14 KEEP A JOURNAL

Document in a notebook what time you go to bed, how long it takes to fall asleep, how many times you wake up, what time you wake up in the morning, how you slept. You also want to record what you ate the night before, what activities you did close to bedtime, how much exercise you got, etc. 

Keeping track may help you see patterns and realize what types of activities/food keep you awake and which help you sleep better.

15 KEEP BEDROOM COOL

Most people don’t realise the benefits of keeping the bedroom cool year round (not only in summer). 

According to sleep advisor.org: ‘Not only does it help improve the quality of our sleep, but it can also prevent disease and even slow down the ageing process!’ 

There are studies showing that people who suffer from insomnia tend to have a warmer core body temperature before falling asleep than so-called normal people. You might want to write the temperature in your sleep journal. 

Ideally, you should keep the temperature between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius to experience the maximum benefits.

16 USE A NIGHTLIGHT

Use a torch or a soft night light if you are having to get up during the night. When you turn on bright lights in the middle of the night, this signals the brain into ‘wake up’ mode.

17 AROMATHERAPY 

Aromatherapy, the practice of using scents for medicinal purposes, is shown to promote deeper sleep and reduce fatigue.

 Certain scents are shown to promote positive mood and relaxation, which often leads to rest. One study even found that the natural scent of the person you love can help you get better sleep. 

Common scents that can help reduce insomnia include lavender, vanilla bean, sandalwood, juniper, bergamot and lemon, rose, ylang ylang, jasmine, valerian extract, frankincense, ravensara, marjoram, geranium, chamomile.

18 HEAD TOWARDS NATURAL LIGHT

Get into morning sunlight as soon as possible in the morning.

Bright light tells your body it is time to wake up and can help you regulate your internal clock. 

Usually, 14 to 16 hours after you wake up, your body will signal it is time to get up.

Insomnia
TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS
Image courtesy of Zhou Nutrition
POWER DOWN THE ELECTRONICS Image courtesy of health line.com
CREATE A SPACE FOR INDUCING SLEEP Photo courtesy of Better Sleep Council
YOGA MOVES FOR BETTER SLEEP

Scents that help with Insomnia

Soft Mood Lighting at Night