Counting sheep, a bath before bedtime or a mug of warm milk – these are just some of the ways people encourage a good night’s sleep. But what if you can’t get to sleep or stay asleep for more than a few hours? Insomnia affects over a third of us and can be a short or long-term problem. But fear not, we’ve put together our top 5 tips on how to cure insomnia and enjoy a proper night’s slumber.
1. Schedule your sleep and wake times
It’s important that you set yourself a sleep schedule and stick to it. The last time you can remember sleeping well might have been when you were young and guess what? You had a bedtime then, so why should adulthood be any different. Consider your lifestyle and be realistic with your times. If you are a night owl, don’t set a bedtime of 9 pm. Similarly, if you are a morning person, work backwards from what time you like to wake. Whatever you decide, it’s important that you stick to it on the weekends to get your body into a regular sleep cycle.
2. Realize not everybody needs eight hours sleep
Often quoted as the ‘ideal’, for some eight hours is far too much. If you go to bed at midnight and wake at 6 am without the aid of an alarm and feeling refreshed, then six hours is your ‘ideal’. Or it may be that you need more than eight hours to function properly the next day; if so, don’t feel ‘lazy’, that’s just you. Don’t fret, just as in life, we are all different and one person’s norm is another’s unusual.
3. Don’t go to bed too early
According to studies, hitting the sack before needing to is a common trait in insomnia sufferers. Tucking up early in the hope of getting more sleep has been shown to be counter-intuitive as restricting your time in bed actually signals to your body that when you do go, it’s because your body needs sleep.
4. Create the right sleep environment
Falling and staying asleep are reliant on creating an environment that encourages comfort, drowsiness and prolonged sleep. There are a few things that you should consider if you want to create the ideal surroundings to how to fall asleep quickly and stay that way!
Firstly, do you find that you sleep better while staying away from home? Strange though it may seem, this could signal that it’s time to consider buying a new mattress. Feeling more refreshed and relaxed after a night at a friend’s or in a hotel indicates that yours may be causing you to simply not sleep as well as previously, normal due to reduced support or wear and tear. Our BackSupport Mattress™ offers the perfect solution with three premium foam layers and thousands of pocket coils for legendary comfort and lumbar support. Similarly, if your pillows are older than 6 months, it’s possible you need new ones. Whether you prefer traditional soft and fluffy pillows or a memory foam pillow, you’ll find your perfect match in our range of pillows. Lastly, don’t forget about your sheets and duvet! High-quality cotton bedding will provide a balance between breathability, luxurious softness, and insulation.
Secondly, consider that the ideal temperature for your bedroom is 18 degrees Celsius, so in summer months, make sure that you set your aircon appropriately -- not too hot and not too cool. Unsurprisingly the less light you have - from outside, adjacent rooms or simply your alarm clock or other digital devices - the easier sleep will come to you. If you don’t have blackout curtains, don’t worry - an eyemask will often work fine to block out extra light. Lastly, remember to minimize noise. If you live near a road or have neighbours with babies, earplugs may be a good investment to enable you to sleep a little longer once the sun has risen.
5. Wind down time
Your body needs at least 30 minutes to calm down before being ready to drop off to sleep, so it’s important to actively give yourself that half an hour to wind down. During this time undertake activities that relax you – such as a warm bath, writing a letter or reading your latest novel.
6. Start planning your sleep earlier in the day
In considering how to cure insomnia, you can help yourself by knowing what activities during the day will help or hinder your efforts. Avoid caffeine after mid-afternoon and if you are enjoying a tipple with friends, attempt to stop drinking two or three hours before your bedtime. If you plan on undertaking moderate to intense exercise, remember it takes your body up to six hours to cool back to normal temperature where it’s easier to fall asleep.
7. Don’t get anxious if you do awaken in the night
Remember that sleep is natural and most people don’t actively ‘do’ anything to get it. Worrying about the lack of sleep itself, the side-effects of it or the reasons behind it will create a spiral of anxiety which is hard to escape and prevent you from falling back asleep. If you wake, resist the urge to turn lights on, check your phone, read or get up; meditation has been shown to be the most effective way to clear your head and drop back off. If you don’t naturally fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time, don’t toss and turn in bed worrying -- just get out of bed.
8. If you must get up, try to bore yourself back to sleep
If you get out of bed, make sure you undertake an activity that is not stimulating in any way – now is not the time to check your email. In fact, anything that introduces bright light will stimulate your body to ‘wake up’, so anything electrical –such as phones, tablets or laptops – should be left alone. Drinking herbal tea or hot water, listening to an audiobook, or taking a warm bath are all great things to do: not too stimulating and not too bright. If you must turn on the lights, that’s fine -- make sure they’re not too bright and pick up your favorite novel (we don’t recommend reading nonfiction) or do a little knotting.
9. Rule out sleep problems
A small number of people suffer from illnesses that affect one’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep that are more serious than insomnia and may require medical treatment. Sleepwalking, sleep apnea (the inability to breathe when asleep leading to frequent waking), restless leg syndrome, and excessive snoring are all sleep problems that may be worth excluding by visiting your doctor. In addition, people suffering from anxiety, depression, and chronic pain may exhibit sleep issues. If you’ve tried self-help techniques without success and your lack of sleep is affecting your mood or health, it may be time to see the doctor and get back on track.