Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? More than 30% of Americans suffer from insomnia – a sleep disorder that causes difficulty falling or staying asleep. Insomnia can be caused by many different factors, but fortunately many things can be done to prevent it. If you suffer from this common problem, keep reading for some tips on getting a better night’s sleep.
There are many things that could be keeping you awake at night. These include:
- Eating and drinking before bed: Eating protein or drinking alcohol or caffeine right before bed can keep you from getting a good night’s rest. Protein requires a lot of energy to digest, which keeps your digestive system (and consequently, you) wide awake. Alcohol interferes with REM sleep, making you feel tired the next morning, and caffeine is a stimulant that will keep your brain up and active. Some experts even suggest avoiding caffeine after 2 pm.
- Exercising too late: Exercise is good, but doing so within 3 hours of going to bed will raise your heart rate and metabolism, resulting in restlessness throughout the night.
- Checking the clock: Don’t check your clock when you wake up in the middle of the night. Doing so trains your circadian rhythms (internal clock) and you’ll soon find yourself waking up at the same time every night.
- Too much light in your room: Any light in your room – including that from an electronic device – will trick your brain into thinking it’s day time, thus reducing the production of the hormone that causes sleepiness.
- Sleep disorder: If these things aren’t issues for you, yet you still have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may have a more serious sleep disorder or health problem that is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Tips for Better Sleeping
If you’re tired of laying wide awake at night, try one of these simple solutions to sleep more soundly.
- Watch what you eat/drink before bed: Avoid alcohol, caffeine, protein, tobacco or other stimulants for 4-6 hours before bed, or else plan to be awake for 4-6 hours after going to bed.
- Exercise early: Exercise can actually help you fall asleep faster and sleep through the night, as long as it’s done early. Try to finish at least three hours before bed time.
- Limit naps: Taking a nap during the day can be nice if you’re tired, but it can also throw off your sleep schedule and keep you up later than planned. To avoid this, try to take short naps and keep them before 5pm – or don’t take one at all.
- Get up and do something: You won’t be able to fall asleep if you’re not tired. If you’ve been lying awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you are ready to go to sleep.
- See a doctor: If you continue to have problems sleeping, see a doctor. He may be able to suggest another solution. Never take anything without consulting a doctor first.
One in three people will suffer from insomnia in their lifetime, but the good news is it can easily be prevented by practicing a healthy lifestyle. Exercising early and avoiding food and drink right before bed time not only help you sleep better, but are good lifestyle habits as well. Remember, for serious sleeping problems, you should always consult your physician for advice.