Not getting enough sleep can cause many problems, including mood swings, irritability, depression, poor concentration, mental confusion, and even hallucinations. Generally, you need about eight hours of sleep each night to keep your body healthy. Many people report that they have difficulty sleeping due to symptoms of a mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Other people have physical pain, stress, or racing thoughts that keep them awake. No matter what the reason for your lack of sleep is, there are things you can do to improve your sleep.
Most of us have very busy schedules that require us to be “on the go” for much of the day. These demanding schedules can create feelings of stress and anxiety. And, with stress and anxiety, there is often a constant stream of thoughts, known as “racing thoughts,” that keep you awake. When you are stressed or anxious, your body produces chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline to help you stay active. They are responsible for your “fight or flight” response, and too many of them will keep you awake and alert. There are a few things you can do to fix this problem.
Exercise is one way to combat this problem. Exercise helps your body relax by producing neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). There are many forms of exercise (yoga, Pilates, jogging, swimming, etc.) and they will all work to address brain chemistry. Also, meditation has the same effect on your body. Thirty minutes of exercise or mediation a day will improve your ability to relax and fall asleep.
One more way to address the body’s need to relax is by adding daily supplements. I will quickly list several supplements that can be added. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) has been said to induce sleep by affecting receptors in the brain that cause calm and relaxation. Taurine inhibits the release of adrenaline, which helps you relax. Oatmeal powder (avena sativa) is another herbal remedy that is said to have many health benefits, including decreasing anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates circadian cycles (the sleep-wake cycle). It is found naturally in the brain and can be supplemented to improve sleep. Valerian root has been used for centuries to improve sleep and decrease anxiety. It does not have a pleasant odor in its natural form and can cause lightheadedness the next morning. It can be taken nightly in capsules, which appears to decrease unpleasant side effects. Drinking chamomile tea has also been said to cause drowsiness and relaxation. Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is said to stop racing thoughts. A naturally occurring amino acid called 5HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is the “precursor” for serotonin. Supplementing this amino acid will produce a relaxation response that will promote sleep. Vitamin B6 helps create serotonin and helps the body relax. If you are a person who stays awake due to body pain, try magnesium. It is a natural muscle relaxant and sedative. This is a quick rundown of possible supplements. Feel free to do your own research on them and speak with your doctor before adding them to your diet.
Another way to improve sleep is to get adequate amounts of natural sunlight. Your photoreceptors use sunlight to help regulate your circadian cycle. Melatonin (as mentioned above) is released at night to help the body relax and fall asleep. If you live in an area where there is not enough sunlight, your circadian cycle can be affected. You can purchase a daylight simulation lamp to help regulate your cycle.
Napping at noon is one way to interrupt your sleep cycle. Not getting enough sleep at night can make you feel tired during the day. However, taking a nap (especially one that lasts longer than 60 minutes) will disrupt your circadian cycle and often prevent you from entering a normal sleep pattern. Try to make an effort to stay awake during daylight hours. This can leave your body tired enough to fall asleep at night.
Having a normal “before bed” routine is also a good way to teach your body to relax and sleep at night. Set a daily bedtime and have a number of things to do before bed to help you relax. For example, you can put on pajamas, brush your teeth, and use the bathroom. Then turn off the lights and go to bed with the intention of going to sleep. Generally, a completely dark room helps your circadian cycle know that it is time to sleep. Also, remove the television, video games, and radio from your room. If you actively participate in these activities, it is difficult for your body to know that you intend to sleep. If you are someone who likes to read before bed, do so in another room or in a chair next to the bed. The idea is to teach your body that the bed is a place that is used only for sleeping and having sex.
Relaxation or self-hypnosis is also helpful in helping your body relax. You can incorporate them into your bedtime routine. There are many relaxation methods including muscle relaxation, visualization, autogeny, and breathing exercises. Some people use a sound machine to help them relax and / or visualize a relaxing place. Self-hypnosis is a deep relaxation technique that requires some training, but is generally easy to learn.
A final method to improve sleep is to reduce your intake of caffeine and nicotine. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Stimulants will keep you alert and awake. Stop using nicotine and caffeine after 8 p.m. M. Will generally allow you to rest.
In conclusion, there are many methods to help improve your ability to sleep. It may take some time for your body to adjust using any of the above methods, but in general, the more consistent you are with using behavioral methods, the better you sleep.