There are a host of problems that can keep you from getting the sleep you need, some of which you can control, and some of which you can’t. But the toll that not being able to sleep takes can cause real problems in almost every area of your life. Even short term sleep deprivation results in decreases in cognitive function, memory and alertness. It only takes a week of not getting enough sleep for your immune system and other bodily functions to be impacted. Over time, sleep deprivation increases your chances of developing a broad range of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
But, if you can’t sleep, what can you do? Here are some of things you can do to combat chronic insomnia.
- Meditate every day. It helps center your mind and ground your energy.
- Change your sheets. There is something about fresh, clean sheets that makes any bed more comfortable and welcoming.
- If you aren’t asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Lingering in bed for hours when you can’t sleep can do two things. First, it will make you more frustrated and keep you focused on the fact that you can’t sleep. Second, it sends the wrong message to your body which needs to know that the bed is for sleeping.
- If you have to get up, do something relaxing like reading a book. Avoid the temptation to engage with your electronic devices because the type of light they emit can trick your body into thinking its morning.
- Take a relaxing bath or hot shower right before bed. Increasing your body temperature artificially can help you fall asleep faster.
- Create a bedtime routine that helps get your mind and body ready to fall asleep. This is a great time to pamper yourself a little and spend time doing things that are enjoyable and relaxing. Just make sure you follow it every day.
- Buy some lavender candles or a lavender sachet to go inside your pillow case. The scent of lavender is said to promote sleep.
- Try not to eat a lot or drink much in the hours leading up to bed. It can be unsettling to go to sleep on a full stomach and drinking too much liquid may interrupt your sleep if you end up having to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
- If you need to tackle anything stressful or have a difficult conversation, don’t do it at night. Engaging in mentally or emotionally stimulating right before bed can make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Check your bedroom to make sure that it is dark enough to promote sleep. Whenever possible, limit anything, including alarm clocks, which emit electronic light. If external lights shine in through the window, consider using black out curtains at night.
- Make sure your sleep environment is the optimal temperature for sleeping, which is between 60-68 degrees.
- Pay attention to how much caffeine you are drinking throughout the day and when you are drinking it. If you are having trouble sleeping, try cutting back on the amount of caffeine you are having and stop drinking it earlier in the day.