Difficulty falling asleep
Some people have no trouble falling asleep: sleeping for them is a normal part of the daily routine and, once they have cozied up in bed and turned off the lights, sleep simply comes along naturally and lasts until morning. However, many other people are not so lucky, often struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep all night. This can cause people to have a love-hate relationship with sleep and associate it with tossing and turning in bed and staring at the ceiling, which can cause a feeling of nervousness at bedtime.
High-quality sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Good rest helps us to feel well and allows our body and mind to function properly. On the other side of the coin, a lack of sleep can negatively affect the body and the mind, impacting learning, memory, mood, emotions and various biological functions.
This is why it is so important to know what to do if we can’t sleep; when equipped with the right tools, we can all fall asleep fast and stay asleep right through until morning.
What can we do when we struggle to fall asleep?
When you notice you are having trouble falling asleep, or tend to wake up too early, it’s time to put on your detective hat to find out the underlying causes.
- First things first make sure that there are no triggering medical conditions such as sleep disorders; consult a doctor to get these treated first, if you have any for sure or even if you are unsure.
- The next step is to try to adopt as stable a routine as possible in which the most intense and tiring activities for the body, including eating large meals, are concentrated in the first half of the day, leaving plenty of time before bedtime. This allows us to nourish our body and to burn energy, while also giving it a chance to wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
- For the same reason, it is a great idea to enjoy plenty of sunlight throughout the day, while avoiding blue light before bedtime (that is, from cell phones, tablets, computers and televisions). This will allow your body to regulate its circadian rhythm, which is heavily influenced by ambient light.
- Block out intrusive thoughts that may cause anxiety or stress by enjoying relaxing activities like, for example, a light yoga session or a spot of meditation, or even trying out a simple breathing or muscle-relaxing technique. Even a warm bath with a lit candle can do the job. If the reason behind your sleep problems is particularly significant, it may be worth speaking to a counsellor or specialist for help.
- Last but not least, phytotherapy can be a helping hand when it comes to the relaxation of the mind and body, thanks to substances like valerian root, chamomile, lavender, melissa and passiflora, which can be taken as herbal teas, in tablets or as a natural extract. The use of natural remedies like melatonin health supplement may be the solution of your dreams when you just can’t manage to fall asleep. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in our body that helps reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
The ABCs of good sleep hygiene are theoretically very simple, but incorporating them into the life of busy mothers, desperate students, or managers who have to be on-call all the time is a whole other story. However, knowing what direction to go in is a great start when it comes to even a steady improvement and can have a significantly positive impact on your quality of life, both on and off the mattress!
- Dietary supplements are not intended to substitute a varied and balanced diet and should be taken as part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Melatonin contributes towards reducing the time it takes to fall asleep.
- Ohayon, Maurice M., et al. "How age and daytime activities are related to insomnia in the general population: consequences for older people." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 49.4 (2001): 360-366.
- Ohayon, Maurice. "Epidemiological study on insomnia in the general population." Sleep 19.suppl_3 (1996): S7-S15.
- Taibi, Diana M., and Carol A. Landis. "Valerian and other CAM botanicals in treatment of sleep disturbances." Complementary and Alternative Therapies and the Aging Population. Academic Press, 2009. 57-81.