Insomnia is one of the most common sleep related complaints among Americans. Roughly 40% of adults claim to have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year and almost 15% of them say they suffer from chronic insomnia. Just about everyone suffers from this debilitating disorder at one point or another in their lives and it can be a miserable way to go through life. Acute, long lasting, or chronic insomnia can lead to depression, severe sleep deprivation, and generally make it harder to go through life’s daily activities.
There are many causes of insomnia, which we won’t get into here, and there are countless ways to treat it including prescription drugs, holistic medicine, massage therapy, and tons of other interesting methods. But if you need to get up early in the morning and need to get to sleep right away you don’t have time to research all of that and test out what works for you. I’ve tried to boil it down to the basics here so that you can read it quickly, turn off your computer, and get the sleep you need.
Here’s a simple 5 step process that should help you get to sleep:
1. Get Out of Bed:
It might sound weird at first that you need to get out of bed in order to get some sleep, but trust me, it’s the most important step of all. You don’t want to start associating your bed with the feeling of frustration and despair over not falling asleep. If you can’t sleep you need to resolve yourself to that fact and get out of bed before you condition yourself and connect being in bed with not sleeping.
2. Take Your Mind off the Fact that You Aren’t Sleeping:
Do something besides silently screaming at yourself in frustration. Go clean the dishes in the kitchen, do a little bit of laundry, or just sit down on the couch and curl up with a relaxing book and a nice cup of decaffeinated tea. You want to do something that won’t excite you but will take your mind off the fact that you aren’t falling asleep.
3. Get Back into Bed:
After about half an hour or when you start to feel tired, stop what you are doing and go through the motions of preparing for bed again. Brush your teeth (again if you have to), put your pajamas on, and then get under the covers, close your eyes, and rest your head on your favorite pillow.
4. Do Some Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
Now comes the fun part. We’re going to do a little progressive muscle relaxation. Get into a comfortable position in the bed and start contracting and relaxing each individual muscle in your body one at a time starting with those in your toes and moving slowly up your body all the way to your ears and scalp.
Try to contract quickly and gradually relax them. The time spent relaxing them should be at least double the time spent contracting them. This technique will work to shut off your thinking brain and help you to calm down and relax. The more relaxed you are the easier it will be to fall into sleep’s delicate embrace.
5. Practice Controlled Breathing:
Along with the progressive muscle relaxation you should practice controlled and steady breathing. Breathe deeply in through your nose, letting your lungs fill up and your diaphragm expand, then out slowly through your mouth until you have released all of the air. Try to breathe as slowly and as deeply as you can in sets of eight breaths.
Still Can’t Sleep? Check Out Other Sleeping Resources
The idea behind these 5 steps is simple: try to associate going to bed with falling asleep; don’t associate it with anything else. Curing insomnia won’t happen overnight. You want to try and build a routine that cues your body to sleep, forms other habits that can help sleep, keep a sleep journal and figure out what your sleeping patterns are in order to identify problems and make adjustments.
If you still can’t fall asleep you can explore the other articles on this site to try different techniques and figure out what works best for you. Good luck and sleep well!