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Anyone who’s suffered from insomnia before knows exactly how frustrating it can be. Insomnia can take such a huge toll on your body, especially if you need to be up every morning for work.
I’ve suffered from insomnia since I was a child, and at its worst I wasn’t getting to sleep until around 9am or 10am. Over the past year I’ve been working on my sleep schedule and I’m glad to say I’m finally waking up naturally every morning at around 8am. Here are the steps I took to get there.
Install warm coloured lights.
My absolute number one tip to cure insomnia is to install red or orange lights in your bedroom. Exposure to blue light before bed can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and dramatically reduce your quality of sleep. I use this simple colour changing light bulb which was under £10 off Amazon, and some warm coloured fairy lights in case I want my room to be a little brighter.
Install blue light filters on all your devices.
Similarly to above, exposure to blue light from your phone or laptop can severely disrupt your sleep pattern. I’d suggest downloading a blue light filter on each of your devices and keeping it on the strongest setting. If you own any devices that don’t support blue light filters, then consider investing in a pair of blue light glasses. I use these ones and they’re fantistic – the effects aren’t as strong as downloadable blue light filters, but they still make a difference to my sleep.
No caffeine after midday.
The time after which you should stop drinking caffeine varies widely between people. Personally I don’t drink caffeine after midday, however I know plenty of people who can have a cup of tea in the evening and still fall asleep easily. I’d recommend staying on the safe side and cutting off caffeine as early as possible in the day. On average, the effects of caffeine last between 4 to 6 hours, so keep this in mind before you reach for another coffee.
Make sure your room is already bright before you wake up.
Waking up early plays an important role in recovering from insomnia, yet it can feel like an impossible task when you’re lying awake until the early hours each morning. Make waking up at a reasonable hour that little bit easier by making sure your bedroom is already light when you wake up, either by leaving your curtains open and letting the sun stream in or by installing a smart light with a timer.
Change up your medication.
Prescribed medications can have a huge impact on your sleep quality, which can put you in a tricky situation. In particular, over 7.3 million people were prescribed antidepressants in the UK alone in 2017-18, but many antidepressants list insomnia as a side effect. If your medication is giving you side effects which are negatively impacting your life, consider discussing your options with your doctor.
Take your vitamins.
Vitamin deficiencies are a cause of insomnia which are often overlooked. Try taking a daily multivitamin for a few months and see if your sleep improves.
Practise good sleep hygiene.
Nobody wants to hear it, but if you struggle with insomnia then your bed should be a place where you sleep and nothing more. In an ideal world, your entire bedroom should be devoted purely to sleep. If we use our bed as somewhere to do work or to scroll social media, then our brains will have a hard time switching off when it’s actually time to sleep.
Additionally, you should try your best to wake up and fall asleep at the same time every day. This can be extremely hard if not impossible for someone with insomnia, but you can keep this in mind as an end goal.
If you can’t get to sleep, get up and do something.
If you’ve been trying to sleep for a few hours to no avail, staying in bed will only cause you more stress and frustration. Instead, get up and try and complete a task. If your body is exhausted then spend some time doing something that isn’t too difficult – perhaps cleaning, reading or writing. Hopefully when you’re done you’ll be less anxious and find it easier to fall asleep. And if not then at least you’ve finished something you won’t have to do tomorrow.
See your doctor.
If you’ve already tried everything on this list and still have no control over your sleep, get in touch with your doctor. Chronic insomnia is a serious and sometimes dangerous disorder, and there’s no shame in getting help for it.
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