Getting enough shut-eye? Most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you have insomnia, here are tips for a better night's sleep.
What Is Insomina?
Insomnia is having trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep—or, waking up too early.
It's natural for people to have trouble sleeping from time to time. Some common reasons are stress, a sick child, eating or drinking too close to bedtime, or certain medications. This is usually nothing to worry about, but it slows your thinking, makes it difficult to pay attention, and makes you feel cranky (which affects others)!
Not getting enough sleep for a long time, however, can cause long-term health problems. For example, it can make problems like diabetes and high blood pressure worse. If you have sleep issues that last most nights for 3 to 4 weeks or more, you need to consult a health professional. You may have a chronic case of insomnia; this issue is more common in females, people with depression, and people older than 60.
Other serious sleep problems include sleep apnea. There are also sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, that can make you sleep during the day.
Insomnia can become a habit that your body easily adopts if you don't try to put a stop to the cycle.
Tips to Sleep Better
It is normal to take between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you're having trouble and this is not a chronic case, here are some common remedies that may work better than counting sheep!
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Humans crave structure and rhythm. Help your body find its natural rhythm.
- Get up and walk around. If you keep tossing and turning in bed for 20 minutes, try getting up. Take a walk or do something quiet.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room that isn't too hot or cold for you. Many readers suggest that a slightly cooler room is helpful for sleeping at night. A few readers add that the feet can't be too cold, and it helps to warm them in a bath or with socks before bedtime.
- Don't face the clock. Try removing clocks from your bedroom. Clock-watching can feed into the pattern of insomnia. If you need an alarm, put one outside your bedroom door.
- Work out early. Exercise is a good way to get rid of insomnia. However, exercising 2 to 3 hours right before going to bed will only keep you awake. So plan accordingly.
- Wind yourself down. In the 30 minutes before bedtime, wind down by doing something relaxing, such as listening to music. Don't do bills or work right before you go to sleep! Turn off electronic devices, too.
- Skip the afternoon nap. Try to not take naps during the day because this can take away your ability to be able to have a sound sleep. If you do nap, don't nap later than 3 P.M.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, beer, wine, and liquor in the 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Don't eat large meals within 2 hours of bedtime.
- Milk and turkey can help. Though large meals are not advised, try having a glass of milk an hour before going to sleep. If milk upsets your stomach, eat half of a turkey sandwich. The chemical tryptophan in both milk and turkey causes drowsiness.
- Consult your doctor. In some cases, taking medicine together with some changes to your routine can help most people with insomnia. Consult your health professional.
According for folklore: For insomnia, eat tomatoes, tangerines, or oranges.
Do you snore? Snoring is caused by vibrating in the throat. Some people can make changes that will stop snoring. These include:
- Losing weight
- Cutting down on smoking and alcohol
- Sleeping on your side instead of on your back
However, if you snore loudly and often and find that you are drowsy during the day, you may have sleep apnea. This is not uncommon, but it is dangerous because your breathing can stop during sleep.
People with sleep apnea tend to be overweight. It is more common among men than women. In many cases, doctors will recommend a device that pushes air through your airway. In some cases, you may need surgery.
To learn more about insomnia, apnea, and other sleeping problems, see the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research here.