We all know the feeling; your alarm goes off at 6 am and as you stir from a deep sleep you pray the beeping clock is a manifestation of your imagination. Only it is indeed your alarm, reminding you that life must go on despite the Netflix marathon you completed last night. For most, tiredness hits mid-afternoon and you begin to romanticise over catching up on your sleep with an early night. However, for fellow insomniacs out there, getting the recommended eight to ten hours’ sleep isn’t quite that simple. So, for those who also struggle with sleep, here are five simple tips to combat insomnia:
Go and see your GP
Before you start trying to tackle your insomnia, go and see your GP. They can consider your history and check that there aren’t any underlying medical conditions disrupting your sleep cycle. If your insomnia is intense, they may recommend going down a pharmaceutical route and prescribe medication to help induce sleep or could refer you to a sleep specialist. As always, medication can come with side effects so it’s important to talk this through with a professional before seeking medication elsewhere.
Don’t go to bed too early
If you get anxious about sleep or worry that you won’t be able to sleep, getting into bed an hour or two before you plan to actually go to sleep can just facilitate spiraling anxieties and further exasperate the problem. Instead, try only going to bed when you’re really tired and don’t hang about, establish a quick pre-bed routine and stick to it (for example: wash your face, brush your hair and teeth, put your PJ’s on and get into bed, pronto).
Use a sleep mask
This small change can be surprisingly helpful - there is something very comforting about the gentle pressure sleep masks apply to your face; not to mention that they shut out any unwanted light.
Listen to audiobooks
When choosing an audiobook, it’s important you don’t go for a storyline that’s too captivating. Listening to the same audiobook time and time again can ensure you’re not being kept awake by a gripping plot twist. The voice of the reader is also really important – the softer, more comforting the voice, the better.
Don’t go to bed hungry
It’s often recommended not to eat just before you go to bed and although it’s not great to go to bed on a very full stomach, trying to sleep when you’re hungry is a mission. Try a hot chocolate in the winter or a banana smoothie or protein shake in the summer. A milk-based drink is filling enough to tide you over but not heavy enough to stop you from sleeping.
As with all things, what works for you will be different from what works for someone else and unfortunately trial and error is fundamental to figuring out the sweet spot in your sleep-routine. If you’re struggling with your sleep the best thing to do is to talk. Often insomnia manifests from difficulties elsewhere in your life and it is important to address these issues first and foremost.