There are few things more important for your health than a good night’s sleep. Let’s fight insomnia. Sleep is how your body repairs your brain, supports your body’s growth, and prepares you for the day ahead. Yet the Sleep Health Foundation suggest that one in three people are suffering with some form of sleep disorder or insomnia.
While some issues, like nightmares, sleep apnea, and even restless leg syndrome require some professional assistance and specialist help to overcome, other problems with insomnia can be tackled with some basic lifestyle changes. Here are just three of the ways that you can fight back against the headache of insomnia, without any medication or chemicals.
1. Manage your Light Exposure
The human body has a natural clock that it uses to determine when you should be asleep, and when you need to wake up. This clock, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm, affects your hormones, brain, and body. Natural sunlight exposure during the day is one of the easiest ways that you can keep your circadian rhythm healthy and in check. With bright light exposure, you boost your daytime energy, and improve your chances of falling asleep at night too.
According to one study into people with insomnia, bright light exposure during the day improved sleep duration and quality, while also reducing the time required to fall asleep by 83%. With that in mind, try going out for a walk in the morning with your partner, or stretching outside for a while when you first get out of bed. Your body will thank you for the light boost.
While you’re at it, make sure that you’re not exposing yourself to the wrong kind of light at nighttime. Exposure to blue light, which is similar to sunlight, can trick your mind into thinking that it’s the morning, and therefore time to be awake. Unfortunately, blue light is the light that we’re exposed to from our television screens, smartphones, and other devices. Try switching on night mode or using glasses to block out blue light at night.
2. Create a Consistent Schedule
Speaking of your circadian rhythm – it operates on a consistent set loop, aligning itself often with the sunset and the sunrise. Being consistent with the time you go to bed and wake up each day can help to improve your sleep quality significantly.
According to one study, participants that have irregular sleeping patterns and slept in on the weekends, or went to bed late on certain days were more likely to report poor sleep. On the other hand, if you can get into the habit of going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day – even on the weekends, you’ll find that you may start waking up on time even without your alarm.
Unfortunately, maintaining a consistent schedule of sleeping and waking throughout the week also means that you’ll need to avoid taking afternoon naps with your partner. Sleeping during the daytime confuses your internal clock and makes it harder to sleep soundly at night. If you do need to take a nap, make sure that it’s for less than 30 minutes, so you don’t fall into the deeper stages of sleep.
3. Get Plenty of Exercise
Finally, one of the best ways to improve your sleeping patterns and achieve other health benefits at the same time is to get plenty of exercise. There are countless benefits to exercising regularly, from reduced stress and anxiety, which makes it easier to drift off to sleep, to positive fatigue. When you’re tired from working out all day, you’re more likely to fall asleep quickly.
One study found that exercise nearly halved the amount of time required for older adults to fall asleep. Additionally, the participants in that study also found that they got around 41 more minutes of sleep on average after exercising too. Additionally, in people with severe insomnia, exercise can offer more benefits than medication for sleeping. Exercise reduced the time it took for people with severe insomnia to fall asleep by more than half and reduced anxiety by 15% too.
The only potential downside to exercising is that you don’t want to too much vigorous activity just before going to sleep, or you could risk waking yourself up more.
Overcome Insomnia the Natural Way
There are plenty of easy ways to overcome insomnia and sleeplessness naturally. With the three methods above, you’ll have no problem drifting off to sleep!