Insomnia: How To Tackle Sleepless Nights

Insomnia

by Grazia |

I've lost count the number of times I've woken up to see my clock read 2:05am. And I don't why it happens.

I'm asleep, I wake up and then I'm awake - for the best part of the rest of the night.

Things you think about during that time include: things you did today, how tired you'll be tomorrow, and every single worry you've ever had.

It's a solitary time, an unsettling time, and even if there's someone sleeping next to you, you can't help but feel very alone.

Insomnia affects 3 in 10 Britons – which is to say, nearly a third. And whilst there are a number of different causes for it, common triggers include: stress or anxiety, lifestyle choices (alcohol or caffeine consumption), mental health conditions – such as depression – and physical health problems, like an overactive thyroid or asthma.

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Because of these associated health problems, people often find it difficult to talk about insomnia. As a result, many end up suffering in silence - literal long dark nights of it...

WATCH: Reddit Users Share Their Top Tips For Falling Asleep

But there's no need for any of that! Because there are a number of things you can do to help. I am not a fan of sleeping pills or medication, and so wherever possible, I try to avoid them. Instead I do these things – many of which have actually helped bring on the zzzZZZZZs, at times when I least thought it possible.

Clenching Body Routine

Starting with your toes, clench every single muscle you can, going right up to your head. So, your toes, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, tum, arms, wrists, hands, shoulders neck, brow... and hold it for a few seconds. Then relax. You'll feel exhausted... I've fallen asleep a couple of times doing this.

Don't check your phone

It's SOOOOO tempting. But flooding your eyes with light is not a good idea.

Read an actual book

Turn on your side light and read a book. Yes, a real book. Reading tires out your eyes, but it won't work if you're reading something off your phone, laptop or iPad – the bright light acts as a stimulus and is far more likely to keep you awake.

Get up and do a simple task

If nothing's working, get up and do a simple task – like go to the lavatory or listen to soft music (Faithless' Insomnia is not advisable). Then get back into bed and try to sleep again. If you're still awake 30 minutes later, do it over.

Concentrate on your breathing

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Count sheep? You're having a laugh. What does that even mean? Nothing, it means nothing.

Many insomniacs struggle to keep worrying thoughts at bay in the middle of the night. It's very hard (some say 'impossible') to 'not think' certain things. However, the best way around it, we have found, is to distract yourself.

Do so by concentrating on the breaths you are taking – as in, really thinking about them.

'Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.' Say it to yourself in your head as you do it. It really does block out the worrying thoughts.

This technique is often used in meditation – and it's the very best entree to relaxation.

Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep

Don't have a telly in there, make sure it's a good temperature, that your bed and pillows are comfortable, that light is blocked out and noise is minimal.

Last but not least, the blinking obvious...

Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol, especially in the hours before bedtime. Don't eat a heavy meal just before either. Drink lots of water during the day and exercise. And don't go to bed until you're actually tired.

Good luck (and sweet dreams).

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READ MORE: This is why women need more sleep than men

READ MORE: 10 ways to sleep better every night

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