Insomnia is considered an inadequate quality or quantity of sleep that then inhibits normal daytime function. Some people have difficulty falling asleep. Other individuals cannot stay asleep and awaken multiple times throughout the night. Yet other people are only able to sleep for a few hours before awakening and are unable to go back to sleep. The condition becomes chronic when the disruption happens three times a week and lasts more than two weeks. Explore the top Harvard recommended methods of reversing the problem.
1) Stimulus Reconditioning
Do not go to bed until drowsy or sleepy. If unable to fall asleep, leave the room and find a relaxing activity that encourages sleeping. Read a book or meditate in subdued light. Avoid bright lights, music, eating or any other action that encourages wakefulness.
2) Sleep Restriction
Do not allow yourself to get more than five or six hours of sleep per night. Go to bed later or get up earlier. Keep this schedule for an entire week. If able to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, add 15 or 30 minutes of more sleep and continue the regimen for another week. Continue this process until achieving the desired amount of nightly rest.
3) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Allowing your mind to become bombarded with negative thoughts about not getting sleep only serves to create stress and hinder relaxation. Someone suffering from chronic insomnia may benefit from retraining thought patterns and overcoming the problem.
4) Bedroom Oasis
Encourage physical, mental and emotional relaxation by creating the perfect environment. Make sure the bed and bedding are comfortable. Implement room darkening shades or curtains or use a sleep mask. Use earplugs if external noise becomes a problem or try a white noise generator.
5) Benefits of Exercise
Getting 30 to 45 minutes of moderate physical activity at least three times a week helps improve physiological function and encourages sleep. Avoid exhilarating activities close to bedtime. Choose relaxing stretching exercises or yoga instead.
6) Proper Nutrition
Eating properly also helps the body function normally. Bedtime snacks should not consist of entire meals. Avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages after lunch. Alcohol in the evening is also ill-advised. Coffee and beer also have the potential to disrupt sleep by creating the need to empty your bladder.
7) Restrict Napping
If absolutely needing a nap during the day, keep the time down. Power naps lasting 15 to 40 minutes often provide the energy boost needed without posing a problem with getting a full night’s rest.
8) Relaxation Techniques
Some people benefit from performing deep breathing, meditation or gentle stretching exercises before bed. Find ways to relax your mind to avoid lying in bed troubled by a barrage of non-ending or stressful thoughts.
9) Sunshine Exposure
Getting at least some sun exposure during the day not only ensures that the body makes an adequate amount of vitamin D, but also helps the body regulate awake, sleep cycles during each 24-hour period.
10) OTC Sleep Aids
As a last resort, melatonin and valerian supplements encourage sleep by inducing relaxation and drowsiness.