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What is Insomnia?
Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep until rested. Insomnia is defined in terms of the quality of sleep as well. So, even if you sleep for more than 8 hours at night, but wake up feeling drowsy during the day, you may be suffering from insomnia.
Insomnia is a common problem and can affect your health, both mentally and physically. Long periods of sleeplessness can even cause serious health problems. However, many of us either ignore the problem or turn to sleeping pills - both of which can be detrimental to health (Read this article to know why you need to cure your insomnia). The good news is that, simple changes in your daily habits could help cure insomnia and help you sleep better without taking sleeping pills.
How to cure Insomnia?
Serotonin and Melatonin are two hormones synthesized in the body that play an important role in the regulation of our biological clock. While Serotonin is associated with wakefulness, Melatonin produces feelings of sleepiness. The levels of these hormones are regulated in the body based on exposure to light. Serotonin levels are known to increase with exposure to light, thereby making you wakeful during the day.
As darkness falls the pineal gland synthesizes Melatonin from Serotonin, and brings on sleep. The proper functioning of this biological mechanism (your biological clock) largely forms the basis of curing your Insomnia.
Some simple measures that you can take to help cure your insomnia
1. Regulate your biological clock
You can help regulate your natural biological clock by increasing light exposure during the day and limit light exposure during the night. Simply speaking, this way your body recognizes day as day and night as night!
Keep your rooms well lit during the day by opening the curtains to let sunlight in. During the night, limit artificial lighting (tubelights, bulbs, TV screens, laptop screens etc.) to signal to the body that night is approaching.
2. Maintain a sleep schedule
Going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning, helps your body get into a rhythm.
3. Make your bedroom comfortable
Try your best to keep out noise and light from the bedroom. Also, ensure that it is neither too hot nor too cold. Make sure the room and your bed is comfortable.
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You could use dark blackout curtains to block any external light from entering the room. You could also try using an eye mask or ear plugs to keep out light and sound.
4. Avoid/limit daytime naps
Long naps during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep. Try to avoid or at least limit daytime sleep if you are struggling with Insomnia.
5. Avoid over-stimulation before bedtime
Excitement just before bedtime is sure to trigger for Insomnia. Avoid heated arguments, vigorous exercise and preferably even watching TV, using computers, laptops, smartphones etc. If it’s unavoidable, limit the use.
6. Engage in quiet activities before bed
Read a book or listen to soft soothing music. Preferably, avoid using a device with back-light to read (like kindle readers, ipads, smartphones etc.). Engage in any activity that soothes and calms you. You could even do some meditation. Also, remember to keep the lights dim!
7. Use the bedroom only for sleeping
Don’t use the bedroom for work or watching TV or any other activity. Use your bedroom only to sleep. That way your brain will associate the bedroom with sleep, so that when you go to bed you will soon fall asleep.
8. Avoid caffeinated drinks before bedtime
Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol and even smoking cigarettes as this act as stimulants and will hinder sleep.
9. Try Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is known to be relaxing and a nice warm cup of chamomile tea might help cure your insomnia.
10. Take a warm bath
Having a nice warm, relaxing bath often helps me sleep better. You could even try adding calming/relaxing Essential Oil to the bath water and have a nice soak.
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11. Have a glass of warm milk
A glass of warm milk before bedtime is often recommended for insomnia. In addition, you could even add some nutmeg and a teaspoon of honey to it for better results. This often works for me.
12. Try a bedtime snack
Sometimes just a small bedtime snack may help cure your Insomnia. Eating foods rich in tryptophan can play a major role in curing Insomnia. This is because the body uses Tryptophan to produce Serotonin. Tryptophan rich foods include whole grains, beans, chickpeas, eggs, turkey, dairy products etc. You can find more useful information about this in Dr. Ben Kim’s article, Healthy Foods that Promote Deep Sleep
13. Learn to relax
When you lay down to sleep, don’t worry about the day that was or the day that will be. This is often the time when you will remember all your problems or plan things for the next day – and if you’re like me, you might even plan for the near future! Stop doing that. Relax, do some deep breathing and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.
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14. Stop checking the time
If you are lying in bed awake and unable to get back to sleep, resist the temptation to keep checking the time. Place your alarm clock or any other time piece in a way that you cannot look at the time easily. Worrying about the fact that you are not getting sleep is not going to help. Instead, try to relax and drift off.
15. Get out of bed
When you find yourself lying in bed struggling to go to sleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing
– read, listen to soothing music
or even say your prayers – and go back to bed when you feel sleepy. There’s no point tossing around in bed forcing yourself to sleep.
16. Count sheep or just pray
If counting sheep works for you, so be it! It never worked for me though. But as a child, whenever I couldn’t sleep, my mother often told me to say my prayers and no matter what anyone has to say about this – the fact is that it worked!!
If after trying everything, you continue to suffer from sleeplessness, visit the doctor to find the underlying cause of your Insomnia.
Do you also suffer from Insomnia? Do you use any of these methods to combat it? Do leave us a comment with your tips to cure insomnia.
If you enjoyed reading this article, do like it on facebook too and share it with your friends as well. Who knows, if they are struggling with Insomnia, they will surely be thankful :)
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