The “insomnia cycle” can leave you more than cranky. Whether or not you consider yourself a “morning person,” anyone suffering from lack of sleep will begin to feel greater levels of irritability, inability to concentrate, and a generally dull spirit that can even contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Lack of sleep over the long term also brings on a host of other unfortunate side effects, including a higher risk of obesity and countless diseases. It puts strain on your heart and, of course, leaves you tossing and turning at night until you finally drag yourself out of bed a few short hours later, rubbing your eyes and counting the hours until you can hopefully get some shut eye.
The insomnia cycle is certainly unpleasant (see sleep statistics). We all have a sleepless night every once in a while, but if you’re finding that you are consistently struggling to fall asleep quickly or stay asleep soundly, you need to rethink your bedtime routine. Here are seven strategies to help you break the insomnia cycle and get some good sleep.
#1 Don’t Nap
It may sound counterintuitive in your battle to recover from lack of sleep, but napping during the day will actually throw off your circadian rhythm–which is your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. An afternoon nap can be beneficial for older adults and young children, but only as a complement to a good night’s sleep.
If you are consistently sleeping poorly and using a nap to try and “catch up,” you’re only contributing to the bigger issue. If you can stay awake all day, you’ll have a better chance of getting to sleep and staying asleep that night.
This is also a good tip if you travel a lot, whether it’s for business or pleasure. To help beat jetlag, try to stay up until 8 or 10 pm local time once you get to your destination and you’ll be able to stay on a more normal sleep schedule going forward.
Likewise, whether you’re at home or on the go, a rough night should not be followed by a late morning. Avoid sleeping in as it will have a similar negative effect as napping, throwing off your sleep/wake cycle and making it more difficult for you to get to sleep that night.
#2 Wake Up With The Light
While you may use blackout curtains at night to avoid distraction, you need to be waking up to the sunlight each morning in order to get the melatonin out of your system and get your energy pumping.
This may mean getting up to pull the shades as soon as you’re awake or using a “wake up light,” which mimics the sunrise and acts as a silent alarm. If you want to get fancy, you can also get automated curtains or blinds and put them on a timer so they pull back right before sunrise and you’ll gradually wake as your room gets brighter with the day’s arrival.
As you move around the house getting ready, turn on lights throughout to help signal to your body that it’s time to be up and about again.
#3 Get Up and Exercise
It’s easy to feel restless if you have gone from bed to car to desk to back home. Everyone should be working to get more physical activity in today’s work environments and lifestyles, and even just 15 minutes a day can help improve your alertness when you’re awake and lead to better sleep quality at night.
Also, pay attention to the time of day when you are getting this physical activity in. Working out close to bedtime could postpone the release of melatonin and, therefore, delay sleep. Instead, work out in the late afternoon or early evening. If you can, try to exercise even earlier in the day.
#4 Avoid Caffeine
While you don’t have to ditch your morning coffee, you should be mindful of that afternoon pick-me-up. Caffeine should not be consumed within six hours of your bedtime because it will still be in your system and it will affect your sleep quality. So, if you get tired around 3 and you want to go to bed around 9, you should skip coffee and opt for another caffeine-free, energizing treat. Read here what to do to fall asleep after drinking coffee.
#5 Unplug Before Bed
The blue light that devices emit can be harmful to your body, and it also throws off your sleep/wake cycle. This includes laptops, tablets, and phones, all of which can help keep you awake. Plus, they are a distraction in and of themselves and they will certainly stop you from sleeping if you’re sitting in front of one.
Likewise, while some people enjoy the background noise of a TV show as they fall to sleep, try to opt for a sound recording instead. That way, you won’t wake up at some point during the night to turn the TV off and the light won’t affect you either.
You can use a white noise machine to fall asleep or, alternatively, many people find pink noise frequencies a little deeper and even more relaxing. These machines also help to drown out noise that may be coming in from the street or from other people in your house.
#6 Make Your Room Cool and Dark
One of the best ways to promote good sleep is simple: pull the shades. Investing in blackout curtains is a fantastic choice, especially if you are particularly sensitive to light at night and if you sleep near a street or other outside light source.
You can also wear a sleep mask if you prefer, which will block out everything in the room and out–which is especially beneficial if you have a partner who wakes early and perhaps turns on the closet or bathroom light to get ready.
Likewise, aside from making sure your room is dark, you should also opt for a cooler room. Studies show that the ideal sleeping temperature is in the 60s, with most preferring somewhere around 64 degrees. This allows you to cuddle up under a weighted blanket without getting too hot or too cold.
Since your body’s temperature naturally drops as you sleep, having the colder air around you will help promote sleep. If you have an HVAC system or you’re able to set the temperature with a timer, try to gradually warm the room up 5-10 degrees as the night turns to day. This replicates the natural warmth that comes with the sun and supports your body’s natural temperature increase in anticipation of your coming energy expenditure.
When it comes to controlling temperature, choosing a weighted blanket like Corala allows you to switch from a winter duvet to a summer duvet and enjoy great breathability and temperature regulation year-round.
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#7 Sleep More Soundly With a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are a proven tool for helping you silence loud thoughts and achieve greater relaxation in the evening. Aside from relieving stress and anxiety, the comforting embrace of a weighted blanket will help you get to sleep and fall to sleep faster by promoting the body’s natural release of serotonin.
Through deep-touch pressure (DTP), Corala Blanket is able to put your mind and body at ease, allowing for a peaceful night’s sleep. Learn more here about why you need a weighted blanket.