After a long day, there is nothing better than crawling into bed and letting your head hit the pillow. For many people though, this is not their reality, as they instead spend hours tossing and turning while sleep eludes them. This inability to fall or stay asleep is considered insomnia, and in the U.S., one in three people experience insomnia each night. It can affect almost anyone, but women are twice as likely to experience the symptoms, which may be related to their higher rates of anxiety and depression.
When insomnia hits, here are a couple tips to make it easier your body and mind:
- Get up and out of bed – Don’t spend more than 15 minutes in bed when you’re having trouble falling asleep. Your bed and bedroom should be a place your mind only associates with sleep. Instead, relocate to the living room or sit outside (weather permitting) until you start to feel sleepy again.
- Stay in the dark or very soft lighting – When you relocate from your bed, avoid bright, overhead lights and electronic screens that emit a blue light. Instead, opt for soft lighting or a flashlight to keep your body producing melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
- Don’t look at the clock – When you can’t sleep, seeing the late hour on your bedside table only adds more anxiety, knowing you have to be up in a few hours. Turn your clock around, avoid checking your wrist watch, kitchen appliances or phone for the time.
- Do something relaxing – Once you’ve left your bedroom, do an activity that is simple and doesn’t take too much focus. Everyone has a book they’ve started multiple times, but couldn’t get through because it was too dry, dull or just plain boring. These sleepless nights would be a perfect time to dig out that book and crack it open.
- Avoid nighttime snacks or drinks – Avoid eating heavy foods or alcoholic drinks too close to bed time, as they can affect your body’s intention to sleep, by having to work harder to digest food while also trying to relax and fall asleep.
Sleeping is one of the most natural things our bodies do each day, making it hard to admit you might be having difficulties sleeping each night. If you find yourself staring at the ceiling or tossing and turning each night, we invite you to talk to one of our doctors about your sleep habits and ways to make sleep easier. You can connect with an Iowa Sleep doctor through our Contact Us form, or by sending us a question.