Do you suffer from brain fog and a lack of focus? Does it feel like you’re constantly battling with your own mind, even though there’s no clear and obvious explanation? Your sleep—or lack thereof—could be the issue.
Is Sleep the Issue?
Millions of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, and because they’re used to under-sleeping, it becomes a habit. If you’re reading this article and thinking, “My problems are definitely not sleep-related. I’ve always slept for 4/5 hours and never had issues”, then you could be lying to yourself. Just because you got away with sleeping for 4 hours when you were 18, doesn’t mean you can do the same at 30 or 40. You have more energy when you’re young, and you can get by on adrenaline and coffee alone. But as you age, your body struggles to adapt and you need every second of sleep that you can get. You don’t need to feel tired to be suffering from sleeplessness. Sure, it will make you tired as the day wears on, but throughout the day, you may struggle to concentrate and feel like you’re not quite yourself. Sleep more, relax more, and you’ll realize just how much of a difference it can make.
Beat Insomnia Without Medication
Although medication is an effective way to beat insomnia and improve your sleep patterns, it comes with a long list of side effects, including dependency, grogginess, nausea, and more. The best way to beat insomnia is to do it naturally by utilizing the following methods.
Sleep Tip 1: Pay Attention to Your Body Temperature
If you eat before bed, you’ll raise your body temperature and may also deal with digestive discomforts. It’s why you should always refrain from eating a heavy meal before going to sleep, although a warm glass of milk may be beneficial. By the same token, if you take a long soak in the bath, it will lower your body temperature and ensure you’re ready for the long night ahead. Initially, bathing will spike your temperature, but as soon as you climb out of the water, it drops. It’s not just about body temperature, either. When you bathe, you’re removing yourself from the distractions of television, computers, and phones. You’re spending some time alone, with nothing to stimulate your mind or distract your attention. It means that as soon as you step out of the bath and get dried, you’ll be ready to sleep.
Sleep Tip 2: Use Your Addiction to Your Advantage
Caffeine is never a good idea before bed. It will almost certainly keep you awake and make you restless long into the small hours. You probably knew that already, and there’s a good chance that you’re avoiding coffee, tea, and soft drinks before bed, but if you prolong your abstinence, you can benefit even more. When you’re addicted to caffeine, your body craves the stimulant every few hours. When you don’t feed that addiction, you’ll feel lethargic, groggy. If you leave it for another couple of hours, you’ll be overcome with tiredness. So, why not use that to your advantage? If your bedtime is 11 PM, stop drinking coffee/tea/soft drinks in the early afternoon. You’ll have enough caffeine in your system to sustain yourself all day long, but by the evening, you’ll begin to feel a little more tired. When 11 PM rolls around, you’ll be exhausted and ready for bed.
Sleep Tip 3: Read a Book
Reading tires the eyes and the mind, especially when it’s nighttime and your mind is already winding down. By reading a book in bed, you’ll tire yourself out and should be ready for sleep in 20 or 30 minutes. Reading Facebook/Instagram posts doesn’t have the same effect, though. When you read a book, you’re faced with a wall of text and your mind has to do all of the work. If you’re constantly glimpsing videos, glossy ads, and pictures, it won’t have the same effect. Your phone/tablet is nothing but a distraction if you’re trying to sleep, but a book is very effective.
Sleep Tip 4: Meditate
Ironically, the people who complain that they can’t sleep are the same ones who insist that meditation doesn’t work because they “keep falling asleep”. If that’s true for you, then use it to your advantage. Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Close your eyes, breathe through your nose, and try to clear your head, just like you do when you meditate. If you keep those eyes closed and focus on your breath, you’ll eventually fall asleep.
Sleep Tip 5: Exercise, Stretch, Move
The average American spends most of the day sitting down. They sit down during their commute, at the office, and when they return home. Their minds are stimulated, but their bodies are not, and this can place a great strain on the body and lead to insomnia. Your body needs to expend those calories. It needs to move, and the more it moves, the more tired you will feel at the end of the day. Try to exercise as much as you can during the day. And that doesn’t mean you need to go to the gym every day or do 100 sit-ups every morning. Every little helps—the goal is to get your body moving. Walk, stretch, practice yoga, go for a run. If you don’t have much time during the day, then devote 20 minutes in the evening to do some yoga, Pilates, or HIIT.