In 1964, Randy Gardner stayed awake for 11 days and 25 minutes. He holds the record for the longest a human can go without sleep. This was really a rare case, but many of us suffer from insomnia at different periods of our lives. Sleep deprivation can negatively influence body and mind, and it’s important to know how to fight this state.
Here at Bright Side we want to share with you these practical tips on how to fight insomnia and increase the quality of your sleep.
1. Choose the right sleeping pose.
If you face sleeping issues, take a closer look at the sleeping pose you choose most often.
- Sleeping on your back is one of the best ways to fight insomnia, as it allows your head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position. Even though this sleeping position is not that popular, specialists are sure that it is one of the best choices for healthy sleep.
- A fetal sleeping position can restrict breathing and make you feel joint or back pain in the morning. According to statistics, the fetal sleeping position, which is when you lie on your side with your knees bent, is chosen by 41% of adults. While this position is recommended for pregnant women (as it improves circulation), it may not be that good for others.
- Sleeping on your stomach is probably the worst choice for healthy and peaceful sleep. It’s hard to keep your spine in a neutral position while you lie on your stomach, which can negatively influence your back and neck. Additionally, this way of sleeping can make you feel numbness due to the tremendous pressure on your joints and muscles.
2. Get rid of your old mattress.
A bad mattress can also be responsible for your insomnia and other sleeping issues. Experts say that if your mattress is more than 7 years old, it’s time to check to see if it still properly supports your body when you sleep. Different parts of our body put different pressure on the mattress, and as it ages it loses its ability to support your body and guarantee good sleep. There are a wide range of mattresses on the market and you can choose the best option depending on your body shape, health issues you might have, and your budget.
3. Try a DIY “sleepy dust” recipe.
If you can’t fall asleep or suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, try this “sleepy dust” recipe for which you will only need some cane sugar and sea salt. Sugar has a soothing effect while salt helps the body manage its adrenaline levels. Put the mixture under your tongue and it may help you solve your sleeping issues.
4. Practice evening journaling.
If your thoughts run in circles, this can increase your anxiety level and prevent you from falling asleep. Before you go to bed, give yourself 15 minutes to write down all the positive events that happened to you during the day. This technique will help you concentrate on the good things, reduce your level of stress and anxiety, and improve the duration and quality of your sleep.
5. Limit your naps.
Many of us think that taking a nap in the daytime is a good way to get the sleep you missed the previous night, but this is not quite how it works. Naps can decrease the quality of nighttime sleep, but if you can’t do without them, make sure you don’t take long or late evening naps. Studies have shown that those who nap for more than 2 hours or who nap between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. have the poorest quality of nighttime sleep. If you don’t want to risk your sleep, nap during the daytime (before 6 p.m.) and avoid naps that last longer than 2 hours.
6. Keep the clock out of sight.
If you watch the time pass it will only increase your tension and anxiety and prevent you from falling asleep. Keep your clock and alarm in a place where you can’t see them and try to create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom with no disturbing sounds or lights.
7. Try yoga breathing exercises.
Chandra Bhedana is very helpful in fighting insomnia as it calms down the nervous system.
- Sit comfortably with your spine tall. Put your thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger on the left nostril.
- Block your right nostril and inhale fully through the left nostril. Retain the breath gently and then exhale through the right nostril.
- Next, breathe in through the right nostril, retain the breath, and then exhale through the left nostril. Extend each breath and retention with each new cycle of the exercise. Do the exercise for about 9 cycles.
8. Eat foods that help fight insomnia.
- If you have difficulties falling asleep, it may happen because you have a low magnesium level in your body. Magnesium, which is found in spinach, nuts, avocados, seeds, and other products, relaxes nerves and muscles which encourages peaceful sleep. Additionally, magnesium helps to prevent leg cramps which often lead to nighttime waking.
- Chickpeas, the main ingredient of hummus, are rich in amino acids and tryptophan, which are very important for sleep modulation.
- Phytochemicals found in kiwis can also help you fall asleep easily. This fruit can decrease the amount of time you need to fall asleep and increase the total sleep duration and quality.
9. Use an “imaginary distraction” technique.
This technique consists of visualizing something that makes you happy and calm and occupying your mind with something pleasant. When in bed, try to imagine a place that makes you feel comfortable, happy, and safe. Indulge in this pleasant atmosphere and let go of your worries and stress.
10. Try to stay awake instead of trying to fall asleep.
This might seem strange, but trying to stay awake can help you fall asleep easier. A cognitive technique called “paradoxical intention” is used to treat different medical and psychological issues, including insomnia. This technique consists of focusing on staying awake instead of feeling anxious while trying to fall asleep. So next time you have sleep problems, pick a book or turn on some nice music and focus on the process of reading or listening and you may soon notice that you fall asleep sooner and easier.
Which of these tips would you like to try? Do you have your own ideas on how to fight insomnia? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
Illustrated by Leisan Gabidullina and Ekaterina Gapanovich for Bright Side