Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia, a condition characterized by an inability to fall or stay asleep which can be ridiculously disruptive. Not only does insomnia lead to fatigue, but it can also reduce your ability to concentrate and may even trigger gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and depression. And if you have anxiety, the two conditions can play off one another in the worst ways, creating a negative feedback loop. If you struggle with insomnia, here are some helpful things to keep in mind if you’re ready for a change.
When you have anxiety and insomnia, you may spend part of your day worrying that you won’t be able to sleep come nighttime. Once darkness arrives, your anxiety can be elevated, making it even more difficult to wind down for the day.
There are many environmental changes that can help reduce anxiety when its time to wind down for bed. A weighted blanket is an excellent example and one that Harkla explains is effective since it helps the body increase serotonin production, which, in turn, elevates melatonin output. Further, a weighted blanket can reduce tossing and turning, and can even help diminish the effects of restless leg syndrome.
Another significant issue that can affect sleep is invisible but is always around you. Air quality inside the home can mean the difference between an uninterrupted slumber and frequent wakefulness. Dust, pet dander, and other debris can enter the nasal passages when you sleep — especially when you sleep with your mouth open — and leave you with a dry throat and a need to cough or sneeze throughout the night.
The quick fix for this is to invest in a high-quality air purifier, and replace your air filters as needed. Consider setting up an air filter subscription service, which will eliminate the need of running to the hardware store and serve as a reminder that it’s time to swap filters.
Consider using a high-quality essential oil diffuser at night. Certain essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon can help purify the air of contaminants and open up the sinuses for easier breathing, while lavender has been shown to interact with the neurotransmitter GABA to quiet the brain and nervous system and promote a more relaxed state.
It’s Time for a Change
Sometimes, beating insomnia requires changing your daily routine and environment. For example, if you live in an area of high noise or have a sleep schedule that’s different from the rest of your household, adding a sound machine or small fan to the bedroom can help drown out the noise. Likewise, if you sleep during the day or live in the city, you may find it necessary to block outside light. Inexpensive room-darkening curtains are typically all it takes. Perhaps more important than taking supplements or changing your environment is creating a bedtime routine. NoSleeplessNights.com’s Ethan Green explains that adults can benefit greatly from a 30- to 60-minute bedtime routine to help the brain and body transition from day to night.
While your routine will be unique to you, most people benefit from turning electronics off approximately an hour before bed and then having a light snack. Turn your thermostat down to about 68 degrees, and make sure you have breathable fabrics on both the bed and your body. If you typically have a nightcap, swap this for water or perhaps plant-based milk, since alcohol can actually interrupt your sleep. Despite the initial drowsiness, alcohol can worsen sleep apnea, cause night sweats, and may trigger frequent waking thanks to an over-stimulated bladder.
Having insomnia can feel like a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to disrupt your entire life. There are ways to take control of your overnight hours without resorting to prescription meds. Start by adding a healthy supplement to your diet and evaluating your environment for sleep disruptions.
It may take time, and you may have to make multiple changes, but with persistence, you should find safe and healthy habits that help you sleep.
Guest Author Bio
Dylan Foster is a writer at healthwellwise.com. He enjoys writing about topics related to how our homes affect our health and happiness. When he isn’t writing for the website, he works as an office assistant and enjoys hiking local trails with his dog, Samson.