I’m the type of person that has trouble falling asleep every once in a while and i’ve found that a variety of reasons have caused this. As a on and off sufferer of insomnia I have learned a few things along the way that i’d like to share with you that will hopefully make your journey more restful along the way! It’s frustrating, laying in bed at 2, 3 or even 4 in the morning wondering why your body and mind will not relax and rest when that’s all you want. The next day is even worse, you wake up feeling groggy, tired and your body just feels off.
A consistent sleep schedule is an important part of health and wellness. We sleep approximately 1/3rd of our life. 8 of the 24 hours each day. If that is altered to sleep less or your sleep schedules are modified with inconsistent sleep timing then your body and hormones are effected.
Insomnia effects your health in many ways. Hormones are altered so your body may often feel tired during the day and awake at night, this is because your circadian rhythm cycles (awake & asleep cycles) are simply off track. Getting these back on track can be simple if you know which practices to engage in to make this happen.
There are common mistakes that many people make, including myself for years when I had insomnia that you may be making which will inhibit your own healthy sleep cycles though. If we can stop making these mistakes that will create a shift which will make it easier to fall asleep faster. Then, after this, creating new positive habits that allow for health, rest and circadian rhythm balance so that you can rest fully and deeply each night without having a struggle in falling asleep.
The Biggest Mistakes You May Make in Trying To Fall Asleep
- Late Night Lighting: If you use screens or lights late at night of any kind (laptop, tablet, phone, tv) or simply having all the lights on in your home on the brightest setting then this will inhibit your natural sleep cycles which ultimately alter your circadian rhythm. When light photons enter your eyes they signal your brain that it’s daytime and that the sun is out and shining, when really it’s not. This essentially tells your brain to wake up and stay awake. The later the night get’s the less light and screens you want to use. This helps your body and brain to adjust chemically to the darkness and recognize that it’s time for sleep.
- Late Night Snacking Or Drinking: If you eat food or drink a drink that contains sugar or any other stimulant late at night then your body begins to automatically digest this food or utilize the energy to use it. The digestive system needs 3 hours at minimum to digest food, so don’t eat food for 3 hours (if not more) before bed. This also allows for the blood flow and energy exerted that would normally go into digestion to heal and repair your body allowing you to wake up feeling more rested the next day.
- Late Night Doing: You’re too active! Calm down! slow down! breathe! This is so common, and was part of my problem. I would always start doing things late at night. Whether it was watch something (which involved me thinking and the screen which effected my brain and hormones) or going on my computer and reading, writing or working. You need to disengage from your day and relax in order to sleep. If you start to activate your brain late at night then you’re part of the issue, your own worst enemy! You have to allow your brain to rest and relax and not stimulate it with thoughts, work or chores around the house. Let your brain and body chill out for a bit and take it easy! Tranquilo!
- Late Night Stress & Worry: One of the biggest reasons you may not be able to fall asleep is your thoughts. You’re worried about things, relationships, bills, work, getting fired, anything. Then, after this worry you start to focus your intention and attention on worrying about sleep itself which is the worst possible thing you can do. Worrying about sleep puts negative energy towards sleep and creates an internal resistance which makes it take even longer to fall asleep. Trust me, I speak from experience. My biggest issue was late night stress and worry, thinking about all of the issues and problems. I had scraped rock bottom in my life in multiple areas and that worry kept me up until it exhausted my energy, then I shifted my focus on worrying about sleeping. That took another hour or two! You have to let go and let God, as it’s said. Let go of worry and stress. Do something actually relaxing before bed instead of stimulating. Take a hot bath, meditate, light some incense, drink a relaxing (not stimulating) tea. Write in a journal and get all of those thoughts on paper so you can clear your head before rest. If you can discharge this before sleep then those thoughts and stress won’t keep you up because you will have emptied them beforehand.
- Having Inconsistent Sleeping Patterns: One of the big mistakes many people make is sleeping when they’re tired. Sleep is not quite like eating or drinking in that if you feel it then go ahead and sleep then. If you’re hungry or thirsty this is an indicator that you need fuel. Fuel keeps you going. Rest is a bit different in that you need a consistent schedule and routine. If your body doesn’t have that then the inconsistency works against you in having high quality rest each night simply because of your circadian rhythm. Your body needs to have it’s 8 hours of sleep and that time when you sleep needs to be very consistent each day. The most optimal sleep recovery time for your body is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. and if you can do that then you’re giving yourself a restful gift! If you can get in bed around say 9:45 each night, be asleep by 10 and sleep through the night you’ll go to bed early and wake up early feeling rested. Getting on a consistent pattern allows your body to feel tired and wake up at a certain time (within a window of say 20 minutes) that rewards your for your consistency. Set a bed time, as childish as it may sound it allows your body a routine that will modulate your hormones in a positive way. We are beings that are mean’t to sleep with the sun and awake with it. The light is what guides our body in it’s awake and asleep cycles but the invent of the light bulb has changed things. Getting back closer to that helps you in more ways than one.
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