Insomnia is as frustrating as it is bad for your mental, physical, social, and spiritual health. Insomnia can be chronic or temporary and caused directly by something else, such as an underlying illness or life factor, or without a clear cause.
Likely, if you have insomnia you have tried many things to get to sleep and stay asleep. Here are some rather creative additional tips you can use to help nudge yourself to sleep and overcome your insomnia.
Hot Bath, Cold Room
Our bodies prepare us for sleep in response to two things:
- Changes in light (from light to dark)
- Cooling of temperatures at the onset of nighttime
Biologically, our bodies are designed to sleep at the night when it is cold. Keeping a cooler room at night tells our bodies that it’s night time, and time for sleep. Colder rooms queue our bodies to produce melatonin, which will help you get to and stay asleep. Furthermore, if you are in a hot room, you are more likely to wake up.
A “cooler” room doesn’t mean a “cold” room necessarily, but a temperature that is cooler than what you would normally keep your room at. Any temperature between 60-68 degrees is reasonable.
Like sleeping in a cooler room, taking a hot bath before bed simulates the same “cooling” effect that tricks your body into producing melatonin.
Why does taking a hot bath do this? Because after you get out of a hot bath, your core temperature experiences a drop – the same kind your body would experience if you were outside during the transition from day to night. Taking a hot bath right before bedtime will cue your body to start producing melatonin.
Make Your Room a No Electronics Zone
You have likely heard that electronics are not good for sleep, but chances are you haven’t actually taken measures to make your bedroom a no-screen zone.
Screens emit blue light, which delays the release of melatonin. Furthermore, delays in sleep while you are in your bedroom create negative associates between sleep and your room which is not good for sleep.
It’s difficult, but try and actually go through with practicing a no-screen zone in your room, at least at night. No smart phones, no TVs, no laptops, no screens. Do it for a couple of weeks and see how it improves your ability to fall asleep.
Instead of screens, pick up a book, get a journal, or do some other activity before bed.
Think About Your Day Backwards
One way that you can get yourself to sleep is by thinking about your day in reverse. It's similar to counting sheep, but if counting sheep doesn't work for you, then going through your day can be beneficial. Start with the morning and go over every little thing that you did - don't skip any details. This activity may be so soothing that you drift off to sleep before you even make it to lunch.
Rocking Yourself to Sleep
A recent study on sleep and rocking found that rocking helps adults sleep more deeply and wake up fewer times during sleep. Here is a summary of the study:
- Monitored sleep of 18 adults over three nights who slept in bed that rocked gently
- Electrodes recorded brainwave activity throughout each night
- Results concluded that the adults slept better, deeper, and longer when they were in the rocking bed
Rocking before bed may help the onset of sleep, such as in a rocking chair or certain yoga exercises that involve rocking.
Listen to White Noise
White noise can be particularly effective at keeping you asleep. Not only do many people report white noise as soothing and sleep-inducing, but it will block out other more distracting noises that will arouse you.
In this sleep study on white noise, an important finding was that white noise blocks out other external sounds that might otherwise wake you up.
In a different sleep study with white noise and newborns, 80% of studied newborns fell asleep within 5 minutes while listening to white noise while only 25% of newborns fell asleep within 5 minutes without white noise. Whether this works on adults is probably person-dependent.
That being said, noise doesn’t work for everyone, and many people prefer absolute silence. But if you are in a noisy environment, such a city, you might try white noise as it may be preferable to other jarring environmental noises.
What if Your Insomnia Still Won’t Go Away
If you have tried these tricks and everything else, you likely need to consult with your doctor or a sleep specialist. If you live in Alaska and still can’t sleep, take our online sleep test and get in touch with our sleep specialists.