The causes of insomnia can be varied or complex, or they can be easily solved with a few home remedies and a little common sense. The effects of sleep deprivation can be life-threatening and severe, so if you’re suffering from insomnia, don’t let it control your life — get it figured out.
In some extreme cases, insomnia can be the result of serious illness or a side effect of medication, both of which you’ll need to consult with your doctor on how to solve. However, there are a number of simple fixes you can try at home to see if something as simple as too much time online or a bad back is to blame.
Anxiety and mental stress can be absolutely debilitating to your ability to fall asleep. From endless days at the office to “Did I remember to turn off the stove,” our brains are constantly whirring and simply will NOT settle down unless we take active steps to unwind.
Here are a few things you can do if your mind isn’t as ready as your body is for sleep:
- Do a brain dump. At the end of the day, you’ll have a much harder time sleeping if you don’t clear the crap that’s bugging you. Grab a journal and pen and just let the words flow. What’s bothering you today? What happened at work? How are you going to deal with it tomorrow? Get it all out, and don’t sweat the spelling and grammar. Screens will only make it harder for you to fall asleep, so try to avoid digital journals unless you’re using computer glasses.
- Release your tension physically. This is normally the part where I recommend a great bedtime yoga routine to ease into sleep, but the truth is that’s not the only way to physically unwind at night. If you have an eager partner around, that’s right, have sex, and if you’re like most people, you’ll fall asleep quickly (and happily).
- Plan your day for tomorrow, and then stop worrying about it. Having a plan for tomorrow isn’t just a great way to be productive, it’s a great way to get your brain to shut up about tomorrow’s to-do list. Get your planner out, get everything on the books, and then close the book on it.
Not Getting Physical Enough
Okay, moving on from one of humanity’s favorite ways to get physical, the bottom line is that if you’re not burning up enough energy during the day, you’re going to have way too much left over at night.
That’s right, you might have to exercise.
Even if you work behind a desk all day, make sure you’re finding some way to get those muscles working by taking frequent breaks, exercising for at least 20 minutes a day, and even just doing a combination of sitting and standing.
Too Much Screen Time
Too much screen time is closely linked to sleep disorders like insomnia for a wide variety of scientific reasons.
- Overstimulation: The digital world isn’t like real life — an infinite number of distractions are available to us at any given moment. As we scroll through our friend’s Instagram, we’re listening to a podcast and being bombarded with advertising. As we read an article, a video plays incessantly in the background. Overstimulation from electronic devices actually triggers a physiological response in humans known as the ‘fight or flight’ response, triggering excess production of the hormone cortisol, which can cause everything from hormone imbalances to sleep disruption.
- Blue light exposure: Blue light is found naturally in sunlight, but also in the light our electronic devices emit. When we expose ourselves to electronics during every waking hour, we’re actually tricking our bodies into a different perception of night and day, and our circadian rhythm gets off. This effect actually prevents our bodies from producing the sleep hormone melatonin. If you absolutely have to use your computer or phone before or after daylight hours, be sure to use blue light blocking computer glasses to keep your sleep schedule on track. You can check out our (awesome) computer glasses here. Spoiler alert: they even block as much UV light as a pair of sunglasses!
- Addiction: Beyond the physiological effects of constant exposure to electronic devices, this behavior is also highly addictive, which can make it incredibly challenging for people to establish limits for themselves. If you find yourself stuck in the endless scroll, make it more difficult for yourself to look at your phone. Put it in the other room on the charger (NOT where you sleep), and turn it off. Yep, you can do it — OFF.
Sleeping with aches and pains is almost impossible, so if you suffer from something like lower back pain, it’s time to get it sorted out.
Talk to your doctor and chiropractor, of course, but take it upon yourself to figure out what you can do to prevent the pain, not just treat it. Depending on the cause, there may be things you can do to protect yourself from the pain and get a better night’s sleep as a result.
Stretches, magnesium butter, and building muscle strength can be excellent ways to work on these problems while you work on healing and sleeping better.
Your Diet Stinks
If you’re cramming processed sugar into your face all day, chances are, you’re not going to sleep well (don’t shoot the messenger). It sucks, because CUPCAKES, but ultimately if you’re having a hard time sleeping, the first place you need to look is at your diet.
Sugar doesn’t just live in sweet treats, and too much of it can cause hormonal imbalances that mess with our sleep (not to mention our moods) in all kinds of unpleasant ways. Focus on your proteins and produce, and even watch your fruit intake to make sure you’re not just replacing those sundaes with strawberries.
You Can’t Breathe Through Your Nose
Nobody sleeps well when they’re congested (because holy dry-mouth, Batman), so if your nose is constantly stuffed up, don’t be surprised if you’re a restless sleeper. In fact, in a study, more than half of people with allergies were discovered to have some sort of sleep disorder.
Chronic congestion can be a symptom of a wide variety of issues, but allergies are usually the first to blame. You can’t control what Mother Nature cooks up, but you can control what’s in your home. Try to eliminate artificial fragrances from your laundry routine, and look into using all-natural fibers like organic cotton for your bedding instead of polyester.
Having a hard time falling asleep? Your screen time may be to blame. Block blue light and get better sleep with our computer glasses. Get them here.