Does insomnia keep you awake at night? Is this driving you crazy? Do you go to bed only to lay there as sleep eludes you with thoughts spinning through your head? How often do you wake through the night and have trouble going back to sleep? Trouble sleeping or insomnia is a condition that plagues many people.
I am not talking about the occasional trouble sleeping, but persistent, annoying lack of sleep that drives you crazy. When you have chronic insomnia, it is not good for your health. It affects your moods, energy levels and ability to get through each day. Insomnia can even contribute to other more serious health issues.
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
- trouble falling asleep when you go to bed
- difficulty staying asleep
- waking up too early
- feeling tired when you wake up
- feeling sleepy or tired during the day
- worrying about sleeping
- trouble focusing during the day
- difficulties with your memory
- anxiety, depression, irritability or moodiness
- making more mistakes or becoming accident prone.
Most adults thrive on 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. So, when you do not get enough on a regular basis, it can have a serious effect on your life.
Why do you have trouble sleeping?
To get a good night’s sleep, you need to understand why you experience insomnia. When you are under stress, have depression or anxiety, these can be the root cause of your lack of sleep. Your health, sleep routine and habits can also affect the quality of your sleep. You need to get to the root cause of the matter to help you sleep like a baby. Consider whether any of the following affect your life:
- Do you struggle with anxiety?
- Are you a worrier?
- Is your life overloaded with stress?
- What about depression? Are you feeling hopeless and emotionally flat?
- Is your bedroom comfortable and quiet?
- Do you take medications that cause sleeplessness?
- Has there been trauma in your life recently?
- Are there health problems that cause insomnia?
- Do you have a regular bedtime routine?
These are just a few things that can cause insomnia. Insomnia is also a by-product of your brain in chronic survival stress in your everyday life. So, it is important to reduce the triggers that cause you to worry. Here are some things that reduce stress levels:
- Write down what worries you. When a worrying thought enters your head, write it down. Make a note on your phone, computer or even a piece of paper. Tell yourself you don’t have time right now to waste time worrying about it and will think about it later. Often just writing it down takes the power out of your worries.
- Set a time each day. Make a set time of no more than half an hour each day to go over your worries. Look at what you can do to solve them and find solutions. And those you cannot solve, accept there is uncertainty and move on. Remember, much of what you worry about may never happen.
- Talk them out. Talk about what worries you with someone you trust to have an objective point of view, and who will not judge or criticise you. When you keep your worries locked up inside your head, it is hard to put them into perspective.
Your brain is more vulnerable at night
Your brain is 60 percent more vulnerable at night than during the day. For your unconscious brain to switch off your conscious brain has to feel safe and secure.
Think about this. Your conscious brain is the sensory part of your brain. When your sensors are under stress, your unconscious brain perceives your environment is under threat so it triggers the brain into survival patterns of behaviour. In survival mode, your cortisol levels elevate and so does your adrenaline to support the fight-flight response.
So, if you are a worrier, it heightens your nervous system’s state of alertness. Constantly over thinking, living in fear, financial stress, relationship and parental stress are all examples of worrying about things outside your control. This can cause your brain to respond in the same way as if your life is under threat.
The conscious brain is the protective brain or your security guard that warns your unconscious brain about potential threats. If you are worried and fearful about your life, your unconscious brain associates this emotional state as threat to your life. And, if constantly worried and overthinking, and when stress is a daily occurrence, your sympathetic nervous system is programmed to keep your mind and conscious brain in a heightened state of alertness. This doesn’t reduce until you reduce your cortisol levels.
The primary goal of the brain is to survive at all costs. To do that it has biological responses to support survival and one of these is insomnia because sleep is the most vulnerable state a human being can experience.
But it does not have to be this way. Here are some tips to help you sleep like a baby.
Lower your cortisol levels
To protect you while you sleep, your unconscious brain keeps your conscious brain awake. It does this by elevating your cortisol levels which stops melatonin from increasing. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep cycles. Your unconscious brain cleverly programs your mind to keep you in active thought so your brain does not switch off. Hence, why you can battle insomnia. Your unconscious brain also triggers panic attacks and anxiety to wake you up if you do fall asleep during the night.
Insomnia is linked to sensory stress, so doing things to relax your sensors and lower cortisol levels at night will help you get a good night’s sleep.
Here are a few things you can do to relax before going to bed.
Chill out at night
Chill out at night. Put on relaxing or classical music, diffuse essential oils with the lights turned low to lower your cortisol levels naturally.
Run a hot bath. Add bath salts high in magnesium and have a good long soak to reduce tension and stress in your body before going to bed.
Burn essential oils
To reduce stress levels and to help you sleep, use good essential oils in an electric essential oil diffuser. Try one of the following top essential oils to switch off your brain and lull you to sleep:
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
Turn off electronic devices
Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Electronic devices including your smart tv gives off a blue light that disturbs the production of melatonin which keeps you awake.
Instead of watching tv or using electronic devices, listen to relaxing music or read a good book before turning out the light.
Relaxation techniques that help you sleep
Try my insomnia program and one of these relaxation techniques to help you sleep:
- Mindfulness meditation. In a darkened room, lie or sit quietly and focus on your breathing. As you focus on breathing, let your emotions and thoughts come and go without dwelling on them. Let them pass without making judgements. Continue to focus on your breathing until you feel sleepy.
- Abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing that involves your lower back, stomach and chest helps you relax. Sit or lie down somewhere quiet. Focus on your breathing. Take long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose slowly and draw it in deeply, and breathe out slowly through your mouth. With every breath you take, breathe in more deeply.
- Relax your muscles. Get comfortable in a quiet spot. Tense the muscles in all parts of your body. Start with your feet and tense the muscles as tightly a possible and count to 10, and then relax. Repeat the process for every single set of muscles in your body working upwards from your feet until you get to the top of your head.
Taking magnesium supplements and a good sleep tonic from a naturopath or health store that has proven results is great to help the brain to relax
The right sleep environment is important for a good night’s sleep. If your bedroom is too hot or cold, noisy or light streams in from the street, it will interfere with your sleep. Or tossing and turning on an uncomfortable bed and pillows will cause sleeplessness. These are all things you can fix.
Experiment with different pillows, and mattresses and mattress toppers to find the best support to help you sleep. Play music or use earplugs while you sleep to block out any noise. Open a window or turn on a fan to cool down the bedroom or use an extra doona to keep warm. Put up good block out curtains or wear a sleep mask to bed to block out any annoying light.
Avoid nanna naps
Avoid nanna naps during the day if you want a good night’s sleep. It makes it more difficult to sleep at night. Anytime you do need to nap, limit it to 30 minutes before late afternoon to avoid another sleepless night.
Avoid stress at night
Avoid stress a night. This can mean staying off social media, not arguing or working before going to bed. Getting involved in stressful situations before bedtime elevates your cortisol levels making it difficult to get a restful sleep. Postpone these things until tomorrow.
Regular sleep routine
Sticking to a regular sleep routine each night will help tune your biological clock into good sleep habits. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day and avoid sleeping in and too many late nights on the weekend. A good sleep routine helps your body get into a regular sleeping pattern.
Eat light meals at night
Eating heavy meals too late in the day can cause you to wake during the night. Try eating dinner in the early evening or having a light evening meal. Spicy, fatty and acidic foods can cause reflux that wakes you from a restful sleep and makes it difficult to go back to sleep.
Dump alcohol at night. While you may believe a nightcap will help you sleep, it can interfere with your sleep cycle once asleep. It can cause you to wake up during the night and you may find it difficult to go back to sleep.
Caffeine is a stimulant that stops your brain from winding down. Coffee, chocolate, tea and some medicines contain caffeine. How much caffeine you consume during the day builds up in your system. While a cup of coffee is good to boost energy and help stay awake, drinking it too late in the day can disrupt your sleep. Stop consuming or drinking food and beverages that contain caffeine at least four to six hours before going to sleep.
Vigorous exercise before bed
Avoid vigorous exercise before going to bed. It is best to exercise during the day as it is stimulating and can keep you awake. Practise mindfulness meditation, yoga or relaxation techniques to help you sleep. Even try this if you wake during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.
Use the bedroom for sleep
Avoid watching tv, checking social media and reading in bed. Use your bedroom for sleeping and sex with your partner. This helps your brain associate your bedroom with a comfortable place to sleep.
Get up when you cannot sleep rather than tossing and turning, which is only frustrating when you cannot fall asleep. This will only increase your anxiety and make it even harder to sleep. Get up out of bed instead. Have a cup of herbal tea, read a book or magazine, even have a warm bath with soothing essential oils that promote sleep. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises to keep your mind off not sleeping. The key is to do something relaxing. Once you are sleepy go back to bed.
Shut your mind chatter down
As hard as it may be to shut your mind chatter down, it will only exacerbate your ability to sleep. Stay out of your head. It will only cause stress and keep your mind awake. Instead practise deep breathing or visualisation exercises that take your mind off what stresses you out.
Do not worry in bed
How often do the stresses of the day amplify in your mind as soon as you try to sleep? Does it keep you awake at night or do you wake in the middle of the night stressing out? Instead of lying in bed worrying, write what worries you down and commit to dealing with them once and for all in the morning. This helps put your worries to bed for a good night’s sleep.
If none of this helps your insomnia, contact us to find out how I can help you sleep like a baby every night. It does not matter where you are in the world. We can work with you in our Spas, over the phone or via Skype. Book in today for my Emotional Empowerment Program. I have an introductory offer for just $79 so you can start getting the restful sleep you need. We can help you replace insomnia with sleep that refreshes you each day.
We also have an at-home insomnia audio program you can purchase from our online shop for just $69.