It's been a year. Between navigating a pandemic and attempting to maintain as much normality in life as possible, for many, it may even be one of their toughest years to date. With added changes in routines and peaks in stress, it's not uncommon to encounter bouts of insomnia and anxiety, but as we start to see things ease back to normal, could you be holding onto negative sleeping habits that affect your overall wellbeing?
Before we deep dive into exploring ways to beat insomnia, let's start with the basics.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can manifest in both acute and chronic forms. Despite its causes varying from person to person, it regularly presents itself as:
- Sleep disruption (you wake frequently throughout the night)
- The trouble with falling asleep
- An inability to fall asleep after waking in the night
While the short term effects of insomnia might just sound like a frustrating nights sleep, untreated insomnia can trigger:
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Issues with alertness and recall
- Problems with focus
- Weight gain
- Hormone Imbalances
The link between insomnia and anxiety
Although it is only one of the potential effects of frequent, disrupted sleep, more than 20% of people experiencing insomnia will recall feelings of anxiety at the same time. This can result in serious long term complications to both your quality of life and mental health. But it's not all bad news, as a few simple adjustments to your sleep routine could see a dramatic improvement in your sleep and anxiety levels.
As some of the most peculiar things can keep us awake at night, it can be hard to guarantee a one-size-fits-all solution to tackling sleep troubles. Fortunately, with constant advances in the study of sleep and natural remedies, these clinically proven changes can help:
1. Stop tricking your brain into thinking it's daytime
Do you use your phone or laptop up until bedtime? The bright (blue) lights that bounce off your face emit signals that trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. We suggest leaving technology outside of the bedroom altogether, but if your work requires odd hours, check the night shift settings on your device or consider blue light glasses to help block these harmful rays.
2. Create a restful sleeping environment
One of the most significant factors to a disruptive sleep can be attempting to get your zzz's in an inadequate sleep space. Try and keep your bedroom cool, dark and free of any noise distractions. Implementing sleeping aids like our Mega Support Kit may also help set the snooze mood as it uses homeopathic tinctures and aromatic mists to naturally encourage a resting state.
3. Assess your sleep routine
How regular are your sleeping patterns? If you find yourself jumping between different sleep and wake times, you could be throwing off your circadian rhythm (natural body clock). When our circadian rhythm is off we can feel sluggish at funny hours, moody, hungry and immune-compromised. Consider setting a bedtime that is easy to maintain so that your body can regulate naturally.
4. Make sure your bed is comfortable!
It's hard to sleep well on an uncomfortable mattress. With a third of our lives spent sleeping, the investment in a good bed is invaluable!
5. Kick coffee to the curb
Coffee is a stimulant and if you drink enough of it, it can trigger your "fight or flight" response. This often amplifies feelings of anxiety and heightens our senses, making it difficult to unwind and venture off to sleep! If you're looking for a natural coffee substitute, check out the Morning Drops, our secret weapon to boosting energy and igniting your inner sunshine (it also lasts longer than a standard caffeine hit!).
6. Journal it down!
Sometimes the best way to leave your daily stresses at the door is to write them all down before going to bed. This encourages self-reflection and a mental unwind, as you physically offload your thoughts onto paper. Jotting down your to-do list for the following day has also been strongly advised, with researchers linking it to eliminating overthinking and improving rates of falling asleep.
Mindfulness meditation has used to improve wellness and anxiety for many years. In a study by JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that individuals practising mindful meditation experienced less insomnia, fatigue and depression at the end of six sessions than a comparable group spending their sessions learning about standard sleeping tips. This is because meditation helps train the relaxation response in our brain, which diverts stressful energy.
We suggest working with a trial and error approach to finding your unique sleeping solution. In many cases, a few simple additions to a bedtime routine can improve insomnia and relieve its adverse effects, like anxiety and a lack of alertness. If after exploring these natural methods your insomnia is still affecting your waking life and mental wellbeing, please be sure to consult your doctor.