In today’s hectic and busy world, sleep is more important than ever for our health and well-being. It is what makes our body and mind rest from daily stressing factors and switches our cells in a stealth “standby” mode to prepare us for the next busy day ahead. According to Mental Health UK and APA, sleep acts as a regulating factor for several bodies’ functions--breathing, sleeping, and of course, thinking and having the necessary energy to complete daily tasks. When we are deprived of sleep or have irregular sleeping patterns e.g sleeping too much sometimes or sleeping too little others, our system is shocked and physical as well as mental health problems start to arise such as headaches, muscle pains, and twitches, weakened immune system, low energy, fatigue, depression, and poor memory problems.
It is therefore important to sleep enough and maintain regular sleeping patterns. If you are having a hard time falling asleep or simply want to calm your mind, here are some tips that will help:
No 1: Get yourself comfortable and undistracted.
Sometimes, little things like tight and uncomfortable pyjamas or noises inside and outside e.g loud music or dog barks are enough to keep us awake at night. Before taking more drastic measures to help yourself sleep e.g sleeping pills or supplements, make sure that there is nothing making you feel uncomfortable or distracted. Wear looser and softer pyjamas or night dresses, switch off the room and nearby interior lights, switch off your mobile, P.C and T.V, and if needed wear earplugs so you don’t hear any pesky noises.
No.2: Avoid any stimulant substances.
Stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially in large doses e.g 93mg daily will over-stimulate your system and keep you awake at night. If you can’t completely stay away from these substances, consider taking them in lower doses and at least 6 hours before going to sleep. Also, look for alternatives or products with lower concentrations of these e.g decaffeinated coffee or herbal coffee-like drinks in place of regular coffee and beer or wine in place of heavy alcoholic drinks like vodka, whiskey, rum, and tequila.
Meditation and especially mindful meditation, according to Harvard Medical School, can be really effective in reducing insomnia and improving quality of sleep during nighttime. The practice involves thinking about your presence in a calming and positive sense while standing in a traditional lotus yoga position (or a similar position) and shifting your focus to your breathing patterns. To perform mindful meditation, go to a room that is dimly lit and quiet and sit on a comfortable couch or your bed making the traditional lotus position. Let go of stressing thoughts and start breathing deeply in and out. Focus on your breathing patterns without paying attention to any other distracting thoughts. Doing this for at least 15 minutes before going to bed, will help calm your mind and prepare you for sleep.
If none of the above measures work, try some herbal teas or supplements like chamomile, nettle, lemon balm, and valerian root. It’s best to try natural remedies and practices first, before resorting to pills and more drastic things, which can often lead to unpleasant side effects. However, if your insomnia persists for longer periods of time, it’s best to consult with a doctor to pinpoint the cause and treat it.