11 Simple Solutions to Insomnia
October 2, 2015
GRAB A SNACK
“If I'm having trouble falling asleep, I am either hungry or stressed. I'll grab something yummy to eat to comfort any anxieties from a long day and fuel up to recover and recharge,” says NYC instructor ELIAS DUNCAN. “It can be anything from salted caramel sorbet or a banana with peanut butter. Some will say you shouldn't eat right before you sleep, but after a long day you should go to bed feeling like you're ready to recover!” He’s right: A study published in PLOS Biology found that going to bed hungry actually worsens insomnia. So if a grumbling tummy is keeping you up, reach for a light snack to help you ease into slumber.
When I can't sleep I use an app called "relaxed melodies,” which plays white noise. It sounds crazy, but it's the most relaxing thing and it knocks me right out!” says Long Island instructor SABINE GERDTS.
MOVE YOUR BODY
“I use insomnia as my opportunity to get up and get my body moving! I'll do anything from crunches to burpees until I tire my body out,” says Westchester instructor LESLIE SANCHEZ. “Or I might have a banana with almond butter — sometimes the belly needs a little something to get to sleep!”
“When I'm unable to sleep, I typically try to disconnect from my phone, laptop, TV and any other bright screens,” says DC instructor says CAT CROWE. “I have a "naptime & chill" playlist of relaxing music that I'll put on quietly in my headphones.” Any kind of light can block the secretion of melatonin that encourages sleep but blue light from your iPhone or iPad is the most powerful, according to research from Harvard University. Keep your phone and computer use to a minimum in the evening, and turn off all lights when you’re finally hitting the sack.
SIP SOME TEA
“I will have a hot cup of Sleepytime tea and listen to the Sleep Deep app. It relaxes my brain, and my thoughts and centers me right to sleep,” says NY instructor RICH MARTINO. While researchers have gone back and forth on chamomile tea’s effectiveness for combating insomnia, most have been able to agree that it does have relaxing qualities and can improve rest.
CHANGE YOUR MOOD
“First rule when you can’t sleep: Don’t worry that you’re not asleep yet! Take a deep breath and tell yourself you’re okay and you’ll fall asleep when your mind and body want to,” says Chicago instructor JACLYN MITGANG.
“I just bought a new mattress and I feel like all my troubles have faded away! Other than that, understanding how to clear your mind through meditation is how I get my head in the right place for a well-rested night’s sleep,” says NYC and NJ instructor JOEY COPPEDGE. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine demonstrated how a mindful awareness practice — even if just for a few minutes — assisted in getting people into higher quality sleep faster. Sit still, calm your breathing, and center yourself for a few minutes every night before shuteye.
DON’T FORCE IT
“When I can't fall asleep, I allow myself to stay up. I never force myself to sleep. I either read or do some task until I get sleepy,” says Chestnut Hill SAL SABELLA. “I also forgive myself for not being able to fall asleep. I trust that even if I only get four hours of deep sleep, that is better than eight hours of tossing and turning.”
“On the rare occasion that I may not be able to fall sleep within five minutes (the norm for me), I actually visualize myself relaxing at the beach,” says Bay Area instructor MEGAN SPARKS. “This includes the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the warm feeling of your skin from the sun, the smell of the sunscreen, etc. The more detail, the better! I learned this visualizing technique from a coach as competitive swimmer to prepare myself for big races and it always helps me calm down in any situation.”
SNIFF SOME LAVENDER
“If I can't sleep I like to light some incense — anything with lavender is really calming!” says NYC instructor MICHAEL HENZE. Research shows that sleeping in a room with lavender scent can improve quality of sleep by 60 percent and improve signs of depression by up to 100 percent. Whether it’s essential oil, candles or incense, creating a calm and aromatic environment might be just what you need to doze off!
WRITE AWAY YOUR STRESS
“When I can't sleep, it’s usually because I am worrying about something,” says Coral Gables AUBREY BAILEY. “I like to address 15 minutes of journaling throughout the day so I can work those things out instead of spending sleep time that I need to function worrying about things I can't control!” A study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine showed that unsurprisingly stress was a major cause of insomnia. Grab a pen, start writing to release any anxiety thoughts, then get set for a good night's sleep.
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