Waking Upand Not Hitting The Snooze Buttonseems Nearly Impossible
The Problem: You struggle with an innate tendency to stay up really late, then hit snooze so many times in the morning. When you do get into bed, it takes you a while to fall asleep, and the whole cycle repeats itself. Maybe you’ve tried going to bed earlier so you’ll have less trouble getting up in the morning, but then you just lie awake and end up hitting snooze a million times anyway.
How to Fix It: While avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and the evening is a wise move, Richardson says that having caffeine first thing in the morning can be helpful for people who have trouble waking up.
Modulate your exposure to light. This could help reset your internal clock gradually, according to Richardson. “Too much light at night will push your clock even later,” he says, so the key is to keep the lights dim the closer it gets to bedtime. Then also maximize your light exposure first thing in the morningif you can go outside in bright sunlight for some exercise, that would provide a double whammy of wakefulness.
Taking a melatonin supplement might help if light manipulation isn’t enough, Richardson suggests. It may help pull your internal clock to an earlier hour so you can get the sleep you need and not want to toss your alarm clock out the window every morning.
Pragmatic Challenges Of Requiring Conventional Evidence Standards For Herbals
The paucity of data for herbal therapy for insomnia is in principle addressable by randomized placebo controlled trials. However, the time horizon and resources required for such testing across even a subset of the remedies listed herein is daunting and seems unlikely to occur even with optimistic funding projections. The n-of-1 trial approach, despite being an important innovation, is unlikely to solve this evidence problem, as it is still resource intensive and requires research protocols, in part due to the placebo component of the design. Yet, many patients continue to seek advice about or actively self-medicate with alternatives to prescription agents, indicating a need to bridge this evidence gap.
Find A Comfortable Position
A comfortable sleeping position is essential for sleep. Frequently changing positions can be distracting, but finding the right spot can make a big difference to the onset of sleep.
Most people find that sleeping on their side is the best position for a good nights sleep. Learn about the benefits of side sleeping here.
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Bonus: Know Your Caffeine Limit
About 85% of Americans drink at least one caffeinated beverage every day, mainly coffee. You already know that caffeine stimulates your system . But while many people claim they can down coffee an hour before bed and sleep just fine, thats not true for most of us and may not be true for everyone who brags they can sip espresso and then slip off to sleep, says Hartley. Many people lose sleep when stimulants are taken during the afternoon, at large doses, or at all.
However, there are people who are not sensitive to the effects of caffeine at night. In a study on the impact of alcohol, nicotine or caffeine used within four hours of bedtime, researchers found that nicotine and alcohol disrupted sleep, but caffeine did not. The researchers note that they were not able to consider caffeine dosing, sensitivity or tolerance, which are factors that need to be studied in future research on the effects of caffeine on sleep disruption.
But for the majority of people who need to avoid caffeine at night, its not just coffee. They need to be aware of hidden sources of caffeine, like chocolate or coffee ice cream. To promote sleep, try cutting off your caffeine intake by 1 p.m. for a week, and see how it affects your ability to fall asleep. Tweak accordingly from there as you zoom in on the limit that optimizes your bodys ability to function.
Meditation And Relaxation Techniques
A regular meditation practice may help to promote sleep by slowing breathing and reducing stress hormone levels. Meditation is a technique that involves consciously directing one’s attention to an object of focus in order to increase awareness, relax the body, and calm the mind.
Some types of meditation include guided meditation, vipassana meditation, yoga nidra, or body scan. Also try:
- Visualization: Visualization involves actively imagining a relaxing scene. You can try it in bed for 20 minutes before falling asleep. Involve all your senses. If you’re imagining yourself on a tropical island, think of the way the warm breeze feels against your skin. Imagine the sweet scent of the flowers, look at the water and listen to the waves. The more vivid the visualization and the more senses you involve, the more effective it will be.
- Relaxation response: This is a mind/body response that occurs after following specific instructions patterned closely after Transcendental Meditation.
- Mindfulness: This type of meditation essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present.
Early evidence suggests that meditation techniques may improve sleep. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says relaxation techniques have enough evidence to say they can be helpful for insomnia. But further research is still needed.
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Hormonal Changes Are Wreaking Havoc On Your Sleep
The Problem: Youve never had trouble sleepinguntil menopause hit. Now, no matter what time you go to bed, you have problems falling and staying asleep. Tossing and turning is the new norm. Taking over-the-counter or prescription medications helps, but leave you feeling sluggish in the morningnot refreshed. Youre worried about the risks of hormone-replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms .
How to Fix It: There is some evidence that hormonal changes can have an effect on sleep. If hot flashes are a big issue, Dr. Neubauer points to studies that have shown that sleeping in a cooler-than-normal room can help prevent them.
Use caution regarding over-the-counter sleep medications. They contain some type of antihistamine, which can stay in the body for a long time. It takes about 18 hours for your body to clear out 50 percent of the active drug. For most of your waking hours, it will still be in your system, making you drowsy, says Naiman.
Consider taking 0.3 milligram of an over-the-counter melatonin supplement about 20 minutes before bedtime since the production of melatonin drops off as we age.
Go for a checkup.Around the time a woman reaches menopause, other risk factors may emerge, such as sleep apnea, Dr. Neubauer says.
If You Cannot Sleep Get Up
If you cannot sleep, do not lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed.
Make an appointment to see your GP if lack of sleep is persistent and it’s affecting your daily life.
The NHS Apps Library has sleep apps that can help you sleep better.
Read more about insomnia.
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Make An Appointment With A Therapist
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is shown to be incredibly effective for chronic sleep problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. While sleeping pills and other sleep aids may only treat the symptoms of insomnia, CBT-I helps identify the root of the problem, but it takes time and dedication, with regular visits to a clinician who may give you various sleep assignments to try at home and ask you to keep a sleep diary.
Whats Causing Your Insomnia
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed? Do you feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your bedroom quiet and comfortable?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
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End Sleepless Nights With These Natural Insomnia Remedies
Michele Roberge, RPSGT, R.T.
Michele Roberge is a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist and a Registered Radiologic Technologist. Michele currently leads a 4-bed, hospital-based sleep disorder center in Florida, which is also home to one of the largest sleep apnea support groups in the nation.
Were all familiar with that silly image of the person who resorts to counting sheep when they just cant seem to fall asleep. But when youre the one whos been
Were all familiar with that silly image of the person who resorts to counting sheep when they just cant seem to fall asleep. But when youre the one whos been tossing and turning all night, insomnia is no laughing matter.
As many as one in four adults report suffering from mild insomnia, founda recent Harvard study.Verified SourceHarvard HealthBlog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs.View sourceThat inability to fall and stay asleep could stem from a short-term issue, or be the result of a lifetime of poor sleep habits. Either way, it cant be fixed with something like sleeping pills.
Heres why insomnia happens, why you cant rely on prescription meds to solve the problem, and how to develop healthier sleep habits for a lifetime of quality snoozing.
Dietary Supplements For Insomnia
There are many dietary and herbal supplements marketed for their sleep-promoting effects. Although they may be described as natural, be aware that sleep remedies can still have side effects and interfere with other medications or vitamins youre taking. For more information, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
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Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin B6
When we fall asleep, levels of serotonin rise and adrenaline levels fall. Serotonin, the relaxing hormone, is partly made from the amino acid tryptophan, which is activated by vitamin B6, says Mary Hartley, RD, a consulting nutritionist from Providence, RI. According to a report on the effects of diet on sleep, published in the journal Nutrition Research, foods impacting the availability of tryptophan may be among the most helpful in promoting sleep. B6 deficiency is rare in the United States, but it can happen to anyone who eats a poor quality diet. Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, potatoes, fish, chicken, bananas, beans, peanut butter, and many vegetables.
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Create The Ideal Environment For Sleep
Our sleep environment has a profound impact on how well we sleep, so its important that we turn our bedroom into a sleep sanctuary and create an environment thats conducive to rest. Make sure your room is comfortable, dark, free of clutter and peaceful. We recommend keeping technology away from the bedroom, as the blue light emitted from devices stimulates the brain and keeps us awake. Its also important to have a mattress that supports your spine and provides head-to-toe comfort, as well as a quality bed base, for a night of undisturbed sleep.
The easier it is to relax in your bedroom, the more likely you are to be able to clear your mind and lessen the chances of insomnia.
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Negative Effects Of Insomnia
You may hear some people bragging about needing less than six hours of sleep. But we really all need between seven and nine hours. Getting less than what we need can be bad for our health. If you are not getting enough sleep you might find yourself suffering from the following:
A weakened immune system so you get sick more often
Elevated blood pressure
Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Exercise Improves Sleep Quality
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of insomnia and helps you get a restful night’s sleep. Studies have shown that getting as little as 10 minutes of aerobic activity per day is enough to significantly improve sleep quality. Cycling, running, and swimming are good options. To make exercise as conducive to sleep as possible, avoid working out within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime. Mind-body exercises like yoga and tai chi are relaxing to do in the afternoon or evening. They are great for relieving stress and set the stage for you to get good deep sleep.
Work Out At Least A Few Times A Week
Regular exercise will go a long way toward improving your sleep, Cralle says. Finding the perfect time in your day where a workout wont hinder your sleep is crucialsome people have no problem falling asleep after an evening workout, but others may need to hit the gym first thing in the morning. The key is working out at least several times a week, whether its a 10-minute walk, a yoga class, or a sweaty weight-lifting session.
I dont want people to rule out exercise. I find way too many people do, Cralle says. For a lot of people, evening exercise is okay and doesnt interfere with sleep. Its trial-and-error. I urge people to find their sweet spot and practice it.
Opt For Natural Remedies Over Pharmaceuticals
Sleeping pills seem like an easy fix for sleepless nights, but relying on pharmaceuticals to fall causes more problems than it solves. When people habitually use sleep aids, they sleep even worse after stopping the drugs. Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids also come with side effects, including some dangerous ones. Considering that sleeping pills only add an extra 35 minutes to nightly sleep on average, is it really worth the risk?
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Using Sunlight To Promote Healthy Melatonin Production
The sun might force you awake in the morning, but its also essential for helping you achieve restful sleep at night. Thats because your body relies on natural light to figure out what time it is, and determine whether to pump out energizing hormones or ones that leave you feeling relaxed and sleepy, like melatonin.
In other words, daylight helps your bodys natural clockwhich is dictated by the 24-hour cycle of day and nightknow when to feel awake and when to feel tired. When our pineal gland is triggered by light, especially sunlight, it sends signals and releases wake-promoting hormones, says Michele Roberge, RT, RPSGT, a neurodiagnostic lead technologist at Parrish Sleep Disorder Center. A simple walk to the mailbox every morning could really benefit someone who is suffering from insomnia.
When your hypothalamusthe gland responsible for regulating sleep and energy levelssenses a change in light, it tells your body to ramp up or ramp down its production of the sleep hormone melatonin. During the day, you feel energized and alert because you dont produce much melatonin. At night, you produce more, so you feel sleepy.
One way to keep everything on schedule is by flooding your body with light as soon as you get out of bed, which sends a clear message to your body that its time to wake up. Try opening your blinds, exercising outside, or even going sans sunglasses on your way to work.
You’re Always Too Wound Up To Fall Asleep
The Problem: You often stay up until midnight or later, reading or catching up on work. When you realize how late it is, you jump into bedbut you’re still too stimulated to fall asleep for at least another hour. Maybe the tendency is now exacerbated by an erratic schedule, and any sleep you do end up catching isn’t very restorative, since you’re usually just dreaming about work you’ve just been doing.How to Fix It:We cant always design a sleep schedule that fits with our work schedule, and that can especially be a problem for someone with genetic night-owl tendencies, says physician and sleep researcher Gary Richardson. He suggests careful napping to help balance out your sleep schedule, especially on days when you have an early wakeup call. Try lying down and relaxing and getting up after one hour, regardless of whether or not you actually dozes.
Napping can interfere with nighttime rest if you sleep too much, he cautions. And rather than racing to bed when you realize how late it is, set a regular bedtime and develop a relaxing evening ritual, which, ideally, should begin at least half an hour before getting into bed. This could include things like a warm bath and some reading, with the lights as low as possible.
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How To Prevent Insomnia
This article was medically reviewed by Jeremy Bartz, PhD. Dr. Jeremy Bartz is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice based in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Bartz specializes in treating depression, anxiety, OCD, mind-body syndromes, chronic pain, insomnia, relationship difficulties, attachment trauma, and resolving the effects of narcissistic trauma. He received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Brigham Young University and completed a fellowship In Pain Psychology at Stanford’s premier pain management clinic.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 432,897 times.
Insomnia is defined as an inability to fall asleep, stay asleep and/or get deep enough sleep, which creates numerous physiological problems over time. It’s estimated that as many as 95% of Americans experience periods of insomnia at some stage during their lives.XResearch source High levels of stress often due to financial concern, workplace issues or relationship problems is the most common cause of insomnia. However, other factors may play a significant role in insomnia, such as your diet, medical conditions, and/or prescription medications.