Battling Insomnia: A Short Guide to Getting Better Sleep

We all can easily say that at one point in our lives we had trouble getting an appropriate amount of sleep throughout the week. This is due to us waking up multiple times throughout the night and having difficulty falling back to sleep for a long period of time. We wake up feeling exhausted, cranky, and just wanting to go back to bed, but finding ourselves, again tired, but not able to sleep. Usually, the reason as to why we have difficulty falling back to sleep is that we are dealing with a precipitating factor that pushed our bodies over the edge. Things such as final exams, stressful jobs, traumatic experiences, or anticipation of something to come whether it is good or bad. This would be the case of classic insomnia. Usually, insomnia happens because we have learned how to pair our bedroom with something else going on in our lives that prevents us from sleeping. Today, I am going to give you five things to help better you sleep and help reduce insomnia!

1. Reduce Blue Light Consumption

Blue light is a light wavelength that helps stimulate your eyes to send signals to your brain’s internal clock, telling your body that it is daytime, and you need to be awake. Of course, at night we are indoors usually sitting back, watching TV, on our computers, or phones, but did you know that these electronic devices also produce blue light? It is best to put these devices down about an hour or two prior to the time when you will go to bed. Many of these devices also have built in blue light filters that can help you lower your consumption of blue light.

2. Adjust Your Room for Two Activities Only

Thanks to this pandemic, many of us are now working from home and have adapted our homes to become our new office. Some of us now have adapted our bedrooms to be an office as well. This is a huge no-no! Why? We are now teaching our minds to associate our room with work! When you walk into that room, your mind goes into a work mode and that will only cause more harm to your sleep. You also have people who have a TV in the room, video games, computer monitors and so on. All cause your mind to get stimulated and crave some sort of activity. Push all of these out, however the only exception to this would be cell phones since they are our alarm clocks. The bedroom is only for two things and two things only. Sleeping and Sex!

3. When you Cannot Sleep, get up and do Something for 30 minutes

We all had times where we would go to bed and find ourselves waking up and not falling asleep immediately. Best thing to do in this moment is to wake up, get out of the bedroom and have some sort of easy activity that you can softly stimulate your mind. For example, reading a book or even doing some light housework. Once the 30 minutes are up, go back to bed and try falling asleep again! But what if you can’t fall asleep? Good! This will only force your body to crave sleep the next night.

4. Invest in Some Blackout Curtains

Many of us live in busy cities where the city lights bleed into our room. It can be really bothersome and the blue light coming back into our room only will cause mental strain. Blackout curtains are curtains that… well… completely black out the room! Draining light completely from the room will help deprive blue light, and well light itself, entirely. This will train your body and mind that its nighttime and push yourself to sleep.

5. Schedule Your Sleep and Know What You Need for Sleep!

We all have heard of this saying “Not quantity, but quality!” I’m sure we all know one person who can sleep 5 hours and get up feeling completely refreshed, while others who need 8 hours flat or they might feel completely cranky and drained. That is because we all have different bodies and minds that need different amounts of sleep. As we get older, we find ourselves needing less and less sleep. This tells us that more sleep will only hurt us if anything. This is where you schedule your sleep and dedicate that time to sleep. Know what your body needs and help nurture it. If you tend to sleep throughout the day, then you will have difficulty sleeping later in the evening (unless you are a night owl working night shifts, then you can do this in reverse).

Written by: Arbin Memisi, LPC