There’s a domino effect when we don’t get enough sleep. We easily become irritable, annoyed, or upset. Our inner grouch comes out and we reach for coffee and carbs to get us through the day. One thing after another. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, however, is a horse of a different color. That can have dire effects on many aspects of your life. If that sounds like you then you will want to know how to treat insomnia in a healthy way – come on – I’ll show you now.
Let’s do this.
I want this post to be useful and beneficial to you and me. That said, I have added affiliate links to this article and would love it if you decide to use them. 😘
READING TIME: 15 Mins. Or JUMP AND SKIM:
There are different extremes of insomnia from not getting enough sleep a few days or weeks (possibly connected to a particular event) to insomnia lasting for weeks, months, or even years. When insomnia lasts for a long time it can indicate an underlying reason that needs to be identified and resolved.
Insomnia is characterized by:
- Feeling tired during the day and not refreshed on rising
- Taking more than 35 mins to fall asleep
- Waking up very early and not able to go back to sleep
- Needing alcohol or drugs to fall asleep
- Headaches, stomach aches, lack of focus, irritability
There could be other signs too but you get the gist, especially if you have insomnia.
Did You Know That People With Insomnia...
People with insomnia are more likely to:
- Have low Self-Esteem
- Suffer with Anxiety and Stress
- Have Depression
- Self-sabotage their life
- Put weight on
Wait! But which came first? The chicken or the egg?
Did the insomnia come first and then because of the lack of sleep you got depressed, anxious or stressed?
Or were you already depressed or anxious and because of that couldn’t sleep?
Or did you put weight on, then got stressed about it, couldn’t sleep and then got insomnia?
We humans are complex beings, it could be any number of scenarios depending who you are and what’s going on (or gone on) in your life.
Let’s make this easier. Two scenarios:
(1) You get insomnia every now and then because of an exam or test coming up. Or because you have to give a speech or presentation. It affects you but you’re back to sleeping properly after everything has calmed down, including you.
I will provide some general sleep and bedtime tips for you later.
But what about the hard core insomniacs?
(2) You guys cannot remember the last time you slept well. You possibly do have one or more of the above issues on the list. Maybe deep down you know why you are so anxious and now you are in a vicious circle you can’t get out of. Lack of sleep is stressing you out and so you drink every night to try to get to sleep. Now the alcohol is stressing you out and it doesn’t put you to sleep anymore. You feel worse. Round and round you go.
Or maybe you don’t have a clue as to why you are so anxious or can’t sleep?
There is a link between self-esteem and insomnia. That could be why you cannot sleep. People with depression and bipolar experience disturbed sleep and can suffer from insomnia. The point is, if you’ve not slept properly for any length of time then there is usually something else going.
So, in the second scenario, there is an underlying issue that needs to be resolved.
The good news is that in most cases of insomnia it can be treated and there is a lot you can do for yourself to resolve it.
I’ve got some options to consider for both scenarios.
Light Therapy has been scientifically proved to alleviate and resolve may ailments. Mainly:
- Sleep Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder (or Seasonal Depression)
- And more – Wikipedia states:
There is tentative evidence to support its use to treat non-seasonal psychiatric disorders, in particular major depression and depression in bipolar disorder.
Light Therapy – WIKIPEDIA
I could write a whole new blog post on all the things that light therapy can help with but for now, let’s concentrate on the research for light therapy and how it can be used to get a good night’s sleep.
There Is A Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Our circadian rhythm regulates our sleep-wake cycle and repeats every 24 hours. It is when this is messed up that we have sleep problems or a circadian rhythm disorder.
There is new research on light and dark therapy, in particular blue-blocking glasses that can provide an alternative to medication for insomniacs. Blue blocking refers to blocking out blue light from our eyes.
What Is Blue Lights?
- Blue light is everywhere and comes from our mobiles, computers, and overhead lighting.
- It is the number one environmental contributor to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
- Blue light mimics sunlight and over-stimulates the brain.
- Exposure to blue light in the evening has been linked to many different sleep disorders.
- It can block up to 99% of melatonin (sleep hormone).
A consistent routine of bright blue light in the morning and “simulated darkness” in the evening is recommended. The “simulated darkness” is achieved through the use of amber sleep lights and amber sleep glasses. These glasses and lights block the blue light.
Blue light in the morning = tells our body to produce wakeful hormones and neurotransmitters.
Absence of Blue light in the evening/at night = tells our brain to slow down and produce the sleep hormone.
In a nutshell, you are helping your circadian rhythm by telling your body when to sleep and when to wake.
Wearing Amber Glasses At Night While Sleeping?
Wear the amber sleep glasses to block out the blue light in the evening before you go to bed. Wearing the amber glasses for just 45 minutes each night can assist in getting up to an hour more sleep per night.
How Do The Amber Sleep Lights Work?
The amber sleep lights can be used in the evening and they give off a light similar to candlelight. Using the amber light in this way can result in 90 minutes of increased melatonin production and up to an hour more sleep per night.
A good book just before you go to sleep is a great way to slow down and relax. Why not read with the amber light?
That’s a double whammy that is sure to have you nodding off.
Reading might not be your thing but winding down ready to sleep in the evening should be if you suffer from insomnia.
Regardless, it is extremely important to have a routine in the evening to slow down before going to bed.
So, what’s the best way to do that?
Nighttime Preparation Ideas
Having a nighttime ritual before you go to sleep is beneficial for everyone, whether you have insomnia or not. It can be an enjoyable experience if you make that way. Plus you’ll start to look forward to it and so will your body. It’s just another thing to do in telling your body – hey, heads up, we’re going to sleep soon! How and what you do to get ready for sleep is entirely up to you but here are some ideas.
- Set your alarm to go off an hour (or more) before you head for your bed – this way you remind yourself to start your prep by beginning to wind down
- While decompressing in that hour, make a warm drink and put your laptop, mobile and gadgets away
- Wash your face (or have a warm bath) and clean your teeth
- Relaxing while grooming – face masks, nail painting, moisturizing
- Put your amber sleep glasses or amber sleep light on (if you have them)
- Meditate, write in your journal, read, mindful coloring books
- Go to bed at about the same time every night.
- Watch TV or a movie right up until you go to sleep
- Play on your Smart Phone
- Eat a heavy meal just before bed (a light snack, if you’re hungry, is okay)
- Have a hot bath (a warm bath about 2 hours before is okay)
- Drink alcohol or caffeine
- Eat lots of sugary food.
How To Relax Your Body Before Sleep
When you finally lay down make sure you have:
- A warm, comfortable bed – a saggy mattress just won’t do. Put a board underneath until you can buy a new mattress if that’s the case.
- Clean, fresh sheets, pillows, and quilts – buy bedclothes that you like and enjoy. I mean, really, this is something you do EVERY night. Make it great.
- A dark room, no noise – not always possible, I know – buy earplugs if you need to.
Next, relax your whole body. Lay on your back, close your eyes and focus:
- Start with your feet and put your attention on them. Curl up your toes as if grabbing something. Hold for a few seconds and then release and relax them. Mentally, tell your body to relax now.
- Push your toes forward, hold for a few seconds, and then release and relax.
- Pull your toes up towards your shins, hold for a few seconds, and then release and relax.
- Push the backs of your knees towards the bed, hold for a few seconds and then release and relax.
- Thighs – roll your knees towards each other to tense your thighs, release, and relax.
- Clench your buttocks, hold, relax your muscles.
Continue working your way up your body – hands, arms, stomach, neck, face. Tensing, releasing and relaxing your muscles.
By the time you have finished (if you finish) you will be relaxed and sleepy.
Back To That Possible Underlying Issue
All the above tips and suggestions could be useless if you have an underlying issue that is causing your insomnia. You need to discover and uncover the issue and then take steps towards resolving it.
I’ve written posts on low self-esteem and how to build it up along with articles about social anxiety and how to choose a therapist online. My blog is all about living your best life yet and I give lots of suggestions on how to do that and potential reasons as to what could be holding you back from the life you really want. Check them out, including my reviews.
Here’s to you sleeping like a baby when you turn in tonight and hit the sack!
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