Most of us have experienced those maddening midnight moments when, no matter how tired we are, we either can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep, or our sleep is of such poor quality it feels as if we were awake.
It lowers your immune system, affects your thinking and can make you gain weight.
So for anyone who has tossed and turned at night, try these tips…
1. Avoid clocks!
When you do find yourself awake long before the sun comes up, chances are the first thing you do is actually the worst thing for your insomnia: you check the time. People who have trouble sleeping are more likely to keep track of the time that passes, creating a heightened sense of anxiety.
The clock serves as a wake prompt – you should set the alarm clock and put it out of sight. If the bell hasn’t gone off, it’s none of your business what time it is! Roll over and go back to sleep.
2. Ditch the caffeine
Wonderful as caffeine is, it can last a long time. The average “half-life” of caffeine is around five hours – after the first big hit distributed to all tissues, your body gets rid of half the stuff in five hours, three-quarters in 10 hours, seven-eighths in 15 hours – which means caffeine remains in your blood when you’re trying to sleep.
3. Wind down before bedtime
Avoid alcohol before bedtime. While alcohol consumption may initially help some people fall asleep, it interferes with a restful night’s sleep by interrupting the sleep cycle. Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities – doing work or discussing emotional issues.
4. If you can’t sleep, get up
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep in about 20 minutes, get up and engage in a quiet, restful activity such as reading or listening to music. And keep the lights dim; bright light can stimulate your internal clock. When your eyelids are drooping and you are ready to sleep, return to bed.
5. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Having a regular sleep schedule helps to ensure better quality and consistent sleep.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover. Waking up at the same time each day is the very best way to set your clock, and even if you did not sleep well the night before, the extra sleep drive will help you consolidate sleep the following night.