How to cure the effects of insomnia (Part 2)

10 Things you can do that will improve your sleep.

What happens then when you do get a better night’s sleep? It might not make you feel better straight away but after a few consistent nights of sleep, you will realise how good you can feel again. Not only does it improve your mental wellbeing it also boosts your immune system so you’ll find yourself feeling run down and ill less often. Sleep, amazingly, can also improve your sex drive and increases fertility.

Here are a few things you can try:

  1. Cut down on caffeine and energy drinks. This is probably the first thing you will reach for when you wake up feeling exhausted. Excessive caffeine can contribute to palpitations and high blood pressure. Energy drinks are also high in sugar so will contribute towards weight gain. Studies also show that zero sugar drinks are no better for us. Try to cut down the number of caffeinated and sugary drinks you consume in the day.
  2. Look at what you’re eating. Don’t eat late in the evenings. All our energy goes to digesting our food so it will stop us from sleeping. Avoid heavy foods too (like bread and pasta), as these take longer to digest. So make yourself some fresh meals that are lighter to digest. Alternatively, eat smaller portions so that you’re body is not working so hard to digest your food.
  3. Exercise regularly but not excessively. Take light exercise during the day. Walk a little more during the day, by parking the car further away. Or walk up the stairs or escalators, rather than taking the lift. Get out at lunchtime, even if it’s just to walk around the block for 5 minutes. Go to the gym, but don’t overdo it.
  4. Don’t sleep with your phone. This is a huge one. When you go to bed leave the phone in another room. There’s too much temptation to check it, even when you wake momentarily in the night to check the time. Even if you think the vibration doesn’t wake you up it does interrupt the quality of your sleep. Treat yourself to an alarm clock instead. In the meantime be sure it’s in aeroplane mode, not just on silent.
  5. Avoid screens just before bed. This included TV, phones and iPads. Give yourself 45 minutes before going to bed without looking at a screen or checking your phone. The screens give off a light and your body affecting melatonin levels and giving you the impression that you’re not yet ready for bed yet.
  6. Take a few deep breaths. This can be really calming. Lie down and pop your hands on your belly. Gently close your eyes, and take some slightly deeper and fuller breaths, so that you can feel your hands gently rising with each in a breath. Never force the breath. Often we hold the breath when we’re frustrated or stressed, and this, in turn, makes it harder to fall asleep. By taking some fuller breaths we can start to feel calmer and more relaxed very quickly. Count 10 in breaths and 10 out breaths, and see how you feel. If you lose track of the counting, start again at 1 and see if you can get to 10. Sleep will likely come more easily now.
  7. Write a journal. If you can’t drop off because your mind is busy worrying about things or thinking about what you have to do tomorrow, then write those thoughts down onto paper. Keep a journal or pieces of paper by your bed. It’s amazing how the mind can let go of these things once you’ve committed them to paper. You can then check your list in the morning, to be sure you don’t forget anything.
  8. Don’t lie in bed. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep then get up. Make yourself a warm herbal drink (non-caffeinated) or have a glass of water. Use your journal to jot down your thoughts. Even if you think you’re not worrying about something it’s amazing what comes up when you start writing. Then go back to bed, and take a few deep breaths to calm you.
  9. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day but avoid lots of drinks in the evening. Herbal teas are good too. Drinking water has so many benefits in itself. It increases your energy, it flushes out toxins in the body, prevents headaches, and improves your skin complexion.
  10. Reconnect with your body. We are always busy thinking. We rarely give our minds a break and some time off. When we over-think things, it’s very difficult to switch off, and we’re not engaged in the present moment and what’s actually going on around us. We’re lost in past events that we can no longer change or we’re worrying about future events that may or may not happen. We also become disconnected from our bodies and what we’re actually feeling. Connecting with our body allows us to feel grounded and helps us to focus. We can become more aware of what’s actually going on right now. Things like yoga and pilates are great ways to reconnect with the body and slow the mind down allowing sleep to come more easily.

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