Insomnia might not be comparable to torture, but anyone who suffers with it would often take a few hours of pain over night after night of chronic sleeplessness. It turns the world into a sandy-eyed hellscape where it’s hard to care about anything, hard to do anything, and even activities you enjoy become arduous slogs that you endure. The worst part is, like depression, everyone claims they have a cure to quiet your flailing brain, but any insomniac has likely tried everything under the moon to get some rest, often with minimal results. This leaves them ever more frustrated, hopeless, and tired.
The sad truth is that there is no quick and easy solution for insomnia. Sleeping pills like Ambien might help, but they might also lead to eating, talking, or even driving without being conscious of it, leading to even more problems than they solve. Holistic cures can help, but no one has an exact solution, despite the condition being as old as sleep itself. Usually what is needed is a combination of tactics, and a few lifestyle tweaks that will aid you in finding that sweet slumber you need to keep from going utterly mad. Here’s help to calm your flashing thoughts and hopefully sleep like nature intended.
This is the natural supplement that many people with insomnia don’t get enough of, making it an ideal over the counter solution for sleeplessness. It’s best used in moderation to help you jump start a sleep cycle, then teach your brain to make its own through the magic of nature. Don’t worry about forming a habit, as you can’t really abuse Melatonin.
Quieting a restless psyche is a tough thing to do, but learning to meditate can not only allow you to let your thoughts and worries go, but train you to be more effective even when you’re awake. There’s dozens of kinds of meditation out there, and you don’t need more than 5 minutes to see benefits in your brain that pay dividends on the mattress.
Our bodies see light and think it’s time to wake up. The more dark you can surround yourself with, the less likely you are to want to stay awake, from a biological perspective. Light some gentle candles in the evening, or do a short meditation stint in a dark room. Even taking a walk as bedtime approaches can get your physical body wired into knowing it’s sleep time, whereas watching TV or reading under a lamp will keep your body up.
Develop a Routine
Creating a Pavlovian response can help you acclimate to sleeping. By going to be using the exact same string of activities – e.g. brushing your hair, your teeth, taking a bath, sitting quietly for 15 minutes, and listening to soothing music – you tell yourself that it is now time for bed. Using melatonin in conjunction with this routine can help your body learn it’s time to get sleepy whenever you go through your nightly ritual.
Detach with Curiosity
Racing thoughts are the most common factor that insomniacs claim keep them awake. So, learning to detach from these thoughts is helpful. Psychiatrist Judson Brewer suggests looking at your thoughts and feelings with curiosity so that you can detach from them. Then it’s a simple step to let them go and drop the bad habit of staying up.
Save the Carbs for Night
Carbohydrates make serotonin and tryptophan available to your brain, which helps facilitate drowsiness. Eat protein during the day and then have your starches at night to help you get that stuffed and sleepy sensation that makes your bed beckon to you.
Known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, many have found noises and videos of this kind can be exceptionally soothing and help them get to sleep. There’s countless options available for free online, and you can find which ones work best for you to help you go quietly into that good night.
Just Say No
Drugs and alcohol seem like easy fixes to sleeplessness, but they actually compound the problem. Passing out is not a natural kind of sleep, and you don’t get the restful benefits you need when you do it. The same goes for over-the-counter sleeping pills or prescriptions. They don’t work over the long term and cause more problems than they solve. Avoid adulterants and you’ll find more natural and fulfilling sleep, eventually.
Research has shown that sleeping through the night in one block is not how people are necessarily wired. Before the 40-hour work week, people tended to sleep in spurts of approximately 4-6 hours, often having two of these sleep sessions each day. If you can wrangle it, taking a nap while sleeping less at night might give you more recuperation than logging a solid 8 hours of rack time a night.
Talk It Out
Your mind might be troubled by problems and plagued with worries because it needs to express it. A little talk therapy can go a long way toward helping you work out the issues that keep you up at night.
Don’t Toss & Turn
Beds are for sleeping and other kinds of recreation. When you turn them into places where you are wakeful, your body remembers that and behaves accordingly. Instead of fighting with the sheets and blankets throughout the night, get up and do something restful before returning to bed. This programs your body to learn that beds are for sleeping so when you get into it, you aren’t likely to start thinking. Some people go so far as to have a special “worry chair” where they sit to do their fretting.
Step Up Your Sex
Nothing makes most people tired faster than exercise and orgasms. Put these together and you have a pleasant way to prepare to call it a night. If you don’t have a partner, let the internet be your paramour.
Take Time for Yourself
For many adults in marriages with children, the only time they have to themselves is when they’re laying in bed. Don’t let that become a habit. Give yourself an hour each day that is strictly yours, if you can do it. You need time to be, so take it as your due and don’t give it up for anyone or any thing.
Workout (a little)
When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is a few hundred jumping jacks. Try a little walking – which is good for your brain – or a few squats. Maybe do a little light yoga to stretch out the tension and release the stress of the day. Doing more makes your body need more rest to rejuvenate and can short-circuit the worried brain.
Like talk therapy, expelling troubling notions through a journal can aid you in sleeping well. Keep a notebook by your worry chair and pour your heart out into that diary, leaving your woes on the page.
Pray (no god required)
Most of our worries are things we don’t control. We don’t control our bosses, our spouses, or children, the credit card company, the idiot neighbor with his stupid tree that dumps sap all over our car, or much of anything else. Talking about these worries with a higher power – the universe, God, the Earth Mother, or even your own subconscious – helps you to stop focusing on the problem and give it to someone or something that might actually be able to solve it. Talk to your pets about it and let them do the worrying. So long as it’s out of your head it can’t keep you up.
Processed foods or lots of sugar and fat aren’t conducive to rest. Much of our lives is determined by what fuel we put into our bodies, and that includes our down time. Give yourself proper nutrition and watch the wonderful sleep come to you.
Devise a Safe Sleep Space
Your bed should be a sanctuary, and that means doing everything you can to cut out lights or noise or other distractions that keep you awake. Hang curtains, get a noise machine, fluff up your pillows, and treat that sanctuary like it’s the most important place in the world. Because it is.