Posted on Feb 05, 2018
Sleep is one of the most important needs for us to function healthily and happily. (source)
One of the concerns that many people want to address when they visit a therapist is the difficulty in falling asleep. This is especially true when a person is feeling overly stressed and has a hectic lifestyle. In fact, the American Sleep Association reported that 10% of the American adults reported being chronic insomniacs, while 30% have short-term sleeping issues.
Common knowledge tells us that it is important for us to receive enough sleep. It is one of the foundational steps towards living a healthy and happy life. With that being said, people who have difficulty falling asleep could significantly improve on their sleeping habits by examining their lifestyle and making changes accordingly. You'll be amazed at what small changes can make towards improving your sleep!
Here are a few simple steps to follow:
1) Keep a routine
When your lifestyle becomes more predictable, so is your body's ability to be relaxed. Our body craves for predictability (with unpredictability leading to a natural stress response in our body), and as such, having a usual routine in day-to-day life can significantly improve your sleep quality. Start going to bed at about the same time and setting an alarm to wake up at the same time every night. Yes, occassional late night outs can be fun every now and then, but you'll come to find that leading a more usual routine will significantly improve your quality of life. Your hours will be lived more meaningfully and happily!
2) Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Ahh, we all love that coffee fix that completely lifts our mood. However, if you have difficulty sleeping, it is wise to avoid taking it too close to your sleeping time (no more late evening cafe-hopping!). Caffeine and nicotine is a stimulant, which increases your body's alertness and makes you more on the edge and irritable, especially if you are sensitive to it. Alternatively, you may try drinking hot chamomile tea in the evenings, as it does not containe any caffeine.
3) Have regular exercise
There are plenty of benefits to exercising. Firstly, it relaxes your body as it eases the muscle tension that you have from stress by working it and releasing feel good hormones. Secondly, it also tires your muscles, which prepares it to have better rest at night. As an overall, having a regular exercise routine puts you in a better mood (which means less anxiety, stress, and other negative feelings which affects your sleep), which as a result also relaxes your muscles. Want easy sleep? Exercise!
Indeed, seeing a therapist can be helpful in addresing emotional concerns that could interfere with your sleep. However, if insufficient sleep has always been affecting your quality of life, it is also wise to examine your lifestyle and make these simple changes. With some effort put in, you'll be seeing a big difference in how well you can sleep, and as a result, how fulfilling your day being awake could be!