By Hellen Nanzia
Most people don’t realize they are insomniacs until they are laying awake in bed at 3AM going through social media on their phones or working on the laptop. Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you’ve had enough opportunity to sleep.
Here’s how to manage insomnia
Make sleep a priority
If you want a better night’s sleep, you have to get serious about it. A study found that when you’re short on sleep, you’re also more likely to over react to minor incidents, feel stressed out, and blow your top. Even worse, your physical health takes a hit, too. Lack of sleep increases the risk for high blood pressure, depression and weight gain, the latter because of adverse effects on hormones that regulate appetite.
No coffee in the afternoon
Your morning mug gets a pass, but sipping it all day is a big no-no. Here’s why: It’s often said that caffeine has a half-life of about five hours—which means if you eat an early enough dinner, that after-supper cappuccino should be out of your system by bedtime, right? Unfortunately, that’s not quite right. After seven hours, much of the stimulant will be gone from your system, depending on your sensitivity to it—but 25% of it could still be there. “It can also increase night time urination and otherwise adversely impact your sleep,” says Dr. Weil.
Get your sweat on
Sleep experts often say you should avoid working out in the evenings because it can take hours for adrenaline—that exciting hormone that surges during exercise—to return to normal levels. There is plenty of research that supports the idea that exercise improves sleep. One study found that insomniacs who picked up a regular exercise routine slept better, felt less depressed, and had more energy all day. If working out at night interrupts your sleep, squeeze in a morning run instead.
Unwind when you get home
If walking in the door means confronting a pile of bills—or a gaggle of hungry children—it’s understandable that relaxation can seem all but impossible. But it’s smart to start unwinding early in the evening, so you’re marking a transition from your stressful day life, to your evening. Slot in a 5-minute window of you-time where you brew a cup of calming chamomile tea, take a bath if you have time, or just sit quietly alone.
Before bed, get it on
Many a joke has been made about how quickly men conk out after sex—but there’s actually a good reason for it. After intercourse, men’s bodies flood with prolactin, a hormone that is also naturally higher during sleep. It’s likely that the hormone’s release during orgasm causes men to feel sleepy. Add to that hormone soup oxytocin- sometimes called the cuddle hormone, and which is also associated with sleep- and it’s no wonder he’s snoring within minutes. But he’s not alone! Women produce more oxytocin than do men- which can be a recipe for a good night’s sleep for you, too.
Step away from your phone
That thing that’s been glued to your hand all day? It’s got to go if you want a sound sleep—and the same goes for your laptop and tablet. The blue wavelengths produced by your smartphone and other gadgets (and energy-efficient LED light bulbs) significantly suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy, according to University of Basel research.
It’s a tough sell, and mostly for a busy Kenyan, but regular meditation may be a powerful tool for some insomniacs. The science as to why is still equivocal, but we do know meditation sends signals to your sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response telling it that it’s all right to relax.
Yes you need to enroll in a yoga class today!