10 Tips for Overcoming Insomnia Without Medication.
Anyone who has ever spent a sleepless night watching the hours slowly bleed together knows the toll insomnia can have on your mental and physical wellbeing. It can be so difficult to struggle through a working day in a sleep-deprived fog and this can put a massive strain on your day to day life, from homelife and relationships to your working life.
Lack of sleep can leave you feeling irritable and stressed, as well as increasing your risk of other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. It can also affect your ability to concentrate and make decisions, which could negatively impact your career and lifestyle.
While sleeping pills can be effective, these can disagree with some people and make it harder to wake up when the alarm sounds. There are, however some tried and true medication-free methods that have alleviated the problem for me over the years that could help you too.
- Invest in an eye mask. This may seem obvious but blocking out light and other distractions can work wonders for your insomnia. A well-fitting, comfortable eye mask stops your attention wandering around your room and also helps keep your eyes from drifting back open! It sounds simple, but since finding mine, it has become a staple in my sleep routine.
- Try Aromatherapy. The effectiveness of aromatherapy became apparent to me after being hit with insomnia while staying in a hotel. The amenities included a lavender pillow mist and an aromatherapy solution that could be rubbed onto your pulse points. Once giving it a try I was impressed with the success of the soothing scents. There is a huge selection of these products online, so even if lavender is not your thing, you could find something to suit you.
- White Noise. This one might not be for everyone – some people might find the background noise distracting and prefer silence when trying to sleep. However, focusing on white noise or other soothing sounds playing in the background can help you block out other distractions and drift to sleep. Even without investing in a white noise machine, there are many apps you can download onto your smartphone centered around this idea.
- Relaxation Exercises. The ideal way to relax varies from person to person. Deep breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises, meditation, a period of reading or reflection; it is worth finding the time to discover what works for you to help you wind down before settling to sleep. Once you get into the habit of performing these relaxing rhythms, they will soon become second nature.
- Build a Bedtime Routine. Again, perhaps an obvious one but a regular routine can aid you in training your brain to prepare for sleep. Set yourself a time for the lights to go off and establish a calming routine leading up to this and you could find this works wonders in helping you stave off sleeplessness.
- Cut out the Coffee! Coffee and other stimulants such as chocolate should be avoided close to bedtime as they can inhibit your ability to fall asleep and rest peacefully throughout the night. There is research to suggest caffeine can stay in your system for up to twelve hours, so the cut off time for drinking coffee could be earlier than you think, especially if you are susceptible to the effects of caffeine.
- Say No To Naps. If you feel yourself drifting off during the day, it can be tempting to lie down for a quick catnap, but this is best avoided to help you sleep at night. The dangers of napping is that it takes the edge of your fatigue making it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Cutting out the habit of having a ‘quick lie down’ could let you see a big reduction in your sleepless nights.
- No Phone Zone. Another common aid to avoiding insomnia that I have found effective is turning your bedroom into a phone-free zone. Scrolling through social media and websites prevents you from ‘switching off’ and the harsh screen light keeps you awake. Another temptation of the phone is to keep checking the time- a habit that can cause you additional anxiety as you watch the morning tick closer. So switch off your phone, turn your digital clock around, and stop clockwatching!
- Take a Break. This is a recent addition to my insomnia toolkit and I have found it amazingly effective! If you find yourself lying awake with no sign of sleep on the horizon, get up. Fetch a drink of water, or switch on the lamp and read a chapter of a book for ten minutes. A simple break from lying in growing anxiety and frustration can help you relax enough to fall straight to sleep the next time you turn the light off.
- Get Whirling Thoughts out of your Head. We are perhaps all familiar with the sensation of thoughts that won’t be quieted swirling through your mind. Perhaps there is an upcoming event you are worried about or a moment in your day that keeps replaying. Sometimes the simple process of putting these thoughts onto paper can be enough to quiet them to allow you to get to sleep. Invest in a notepad to keep beside you for this purpose and hopefully you will see an improvement in your sleep quality.