According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), insomnia affects 60 million Americans every year.
Most of us experience bouts of sleeplessness from time to time, and you’ve probably read a hundred blogs about how to get a good night’s sleep.
Like herding those imaginary sheep you’ve tried counting, we’ve gathered the most unexpected methods of getting sleep you might not have heard of.
- Get up!
If you’re tossing and turning, unable to sleep, there’s no point suffering. Lying down, fully aware you’re awake, and watching the clock creep into the early hours will only make you anxious and less likely to nod off. So get out of bed, pour a glass of milk and read a book in your living room. You can even do some gentle stretch exercises to relieve restless legs (another common cause of insomnia.)
- Pull an all-nighter
If it’s 5 am already and you still haven’t slept a wink, nodding off for an hour or two before you wake up will make you feel even more tired. So, get up, make some tea, and look over your work emails for the day. We won’t lie; it’ll be tough, but if you survive the day you’ll be more likely to sleep the following night – and settle back into a sleep routine. Scientists have also shown that an all-nighter can help fight depression, and help with sleep further down the line.
- Exercise, in the morning
Exercise releases the ‘happy chemicals’ endorphins in your brain – which make you feel more alert and energized. So, even gentle exercise in the evening can make you feel too awake to get a good night’s sleep. Better to do your exercise in the morning when the gyms, parks, and pools are quieter. You’ll feel energized for the day, and naturally unwind by evening. Exercise is just one way you can live a healthier life.
- Pick up the phone
Studies have shown that the sound of a human voice releases the ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin which makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. And if that voice happens to be your best friend on the other end of the phone, you can share any worries that could be causing your insomnia. A friend who knows you might be able to offer the right advice to look at an issue in a new light.
- Check your medicine cabinet
No, not for sleeping pills which can make you feel groggy in the morning – as if you’ve had no sleep at all! But look at the common medicines which might, unwittingly, affect your sleep. Many cold and flu medicines, for example, are full of caffeine that will keep you up at night. While some hay fever pills could offer just the right dose of drowsiness to help get some zzzs. So, it’s important to know your drug facts and check for any ingredients that affect sleep.
Try these and weird and wonderful approaches, and you might just find yourself nodding off, and getting back into that routine of sleep that we all need to function properly – and feel happy!