So what is both the common thread in terms of cause and cure for the toss and turn tango? Stress. If we accurately identify the stressors in our lives, work to minimize them, and more than anything adapt the way we think and interact with stressors, we have the capacity to overcome insomnia re-estabilishing a foundational piece of our health and happiness.
Now you might think "Easier said than done", but in my personal experience with insomnia which is echoed by Dr Gregg D. Jacobs' book "Say Goodnight to Insomnia" there are four major areas that can help bring your state from sleepy to sleeping. Read below for the first steps:
1. Make the bedroom a sanctuary. Reserve this room for sleep, eliminate most interactions and stressors to de-link the association with the bedroom with stress, and reform the bed= restful postulate.
2. Reinforce the body's relaxation response. If we're constantly triggering our body's relaxation response we program ourselves into a cycle of stress begets stress. As our brain's sleep center is tied to our parasympathetic relaxation response, if we retrain relaxation into our system, we'll also open the pathways fro sleep to occur easily and naturally. Tools like meditation, yoga, walking, a pet, boardgames, laughter, and the BioMat will give you options and multiple avenues to slip into your healthy relaxation with ease.
3. Hold off on midnight snacks & caffeine- period. Eating too close to bedtime can divert your body's resources away from the sleep response and into digestion- this internal activity can keep us awake by keeping our body temperature high (our temperature dips for sleep). If you need to eat after dinner, eat a light snack 2 hours before bed or simply enjoy a cup of calming herbal tea like mint or chamomile. This brings me to the coup de gras of for those of us who wish to be sleep savvy: Take caffeine right out of your system. Like many drugs, caffeine creates imbalances in your natural rhythms creating a need for caffeine where your body's natural morning rise in temperature and brain chemistry would otherwise wake you up. If you're drinking caffeine it's effects, which mimic stressful alertness, are the first place to look for the cause of evening restlessness.
4. Eliminate or minimize stressful thought-patterns. While there are genetic, environmental and physiological reasons for insomnia, most commonly it’s our thoughts that create stress and tension in our bodies which inhibit the body’s relaxation response.
Insomnia affects more and more people and occurs in many forms: from being unable to fall asleep for more than 30minutes, to waking into the night unable to fall back asleep, to shallow sleep that leaves you feeling exhausted in the morning, but there are solutions. Create an environment that supports sleep, make time to relax, watch your caffeine and evening snacking, and bring joy to your life- your sleep and life will thank you!