Anyone who has suffered chronic (ongoing) insomnia knows how devastating it can be. It may be caused due to psychological factors like anxiety or depression, and is also associated with painful ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis. If you're tired of staring at the ceiling for hours at night, despite being dog-tired, here are some tried-n-tested tips for getting a good night's rest.
- If you can possibly avoid it, don't go the route of prescription medication, particularly if your insomnia has been going on for a while. Despite what some people will tell you, sleeping tablets are behaviorally habit-forming, and coming off them when you've been on them for an extended period of time can be extremely difficult. There are other alternatives.
- Avoid all stimulants: You may be a lot more sensitive to caffeine than you think. Even one cup of coffee in the morning has been shown to affect the time it takes to get to sleep at night. If you're a heavy coffee or tea drinker, wean yourself over a period of a week. And remember that caffeine lurks in many places, including many sodas and over-the-counter medications. You may experience withdrawal headaches, but it will be worth it. Also avoid alcohol and cigarettes at night.
- Decide what the ideal time is for you to go to bed is each night, and stick to it, even if you're not tired on any particular night. Routine is essential if you're aiming to overcome insomnia.
- A concept known as "sleep hygiene" is vital. Essentially, it means following a routine that is designed to train your brain to fall asleep naturally. You want to engage in activities that you find relaxing. For example, if you plan to go to sleep at 11pm, draw a warm bath an hour earlier, and make yourself a cup of herbal tea (preferably chamomile, which has sleep-inducing properties).
- Light scented candles in the bathroom, and in your bedroom. Sprinkle a drop of lavender oil on your pillow. Make sure that your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature.
- Put a few drops of relaxing, sleep-inducing essential oils in the bath, like lavender and rose. Soak in the bath for as long as you're comfortable, then continue with your "ritual." You may enjoy putting body lotion on, or wearing freshly washed cotton pajamas. Whatever you decide to include in your "ritual," make sure you do it every night, and in the same sequence.
- If you want to listen to music while you soak, make sure it's calming... not Eminem or the Stones.
- When you get into bed, read for no longer than 1/2 an hour, and ensure that you choose something light. No psychological thrillers, whodunits, or non-fiction. Indulge in something "fluffy," which won't require any heavy thinking.
It could take up to 2 weeks before you start seeing results, but persevere. Your body will thank you.