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How to Combat Insomnia & Sleeplessness

Sleep is one of the most important elements of our emotional and physical health. Without adequate periods of rest, our mood suffers; our ability to think, process, and recall information diminishes; and we become susceptible to both acute and severe long-term illnesses.

If you are having difficulty controlling your mood, energy levels, or weight, it may be because you are not getting enough sleep.

Here are a few suggestions to be able to gain that extra hour or two of sleep, which research has shown, can make all the difference!

1. Try to maintain a consistent bedtime and morning wake-up schedule.

2. Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, and try not to have more than one or two caffeinated beverages per day. Also avoid smoking, alcohol, or heavy meals close to bedtime.

4. Exercise regularly! However, avoid exercising late at night, since doing so can decrease the levels of melatonin in your body, which aid with sleep onset. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, that supports regular sleeping patterns.

5. Avoid daytime naps.

6. Minimize noise and light and ensure the room is at a comfortable temperature.

7. Allow yourself some time to fall asleep at a descent hour by going to bed earlier than usual.

8. Turn off all electronics about an hour before bedtime. The light emitted from computer, cell phone, and television screens is said to disrupt your circadian rhythm, keeping you awake. Disruptions to the circadian rhythm have been linked to vision problems, cancer, and depression. Reading a book instead can take your mind off thoughts about the day and induce drowsiness.

9. Do not do any work-related activities in bed. Otherwise, you will begin to associate your bed with work and possibly stress, and it may be harder for you to relax. Instead, try writing a journal and releasing some of the thoughts you may be having about the upcoming day.

10. Relax your mind and body by engaging in meditation or practicing deep breathing techniques. Deep breathing physiologically puts you to sleep by filling your lungs with air, allowing more oxygen into the blood, and lowering your heart rate, having a calming effect on your body.

Finally, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy, has a 70-80 percent success rate for helping those who suffer from chronic insomnia. Almost one third of people with insomnia achieve normal sleep, and most reduce their symptoms by 50 percent and sleep an extra 45-60 minutes a night. The goal of CBT is to reduce the anxiety people have surrounding sleep by changing their dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about it.

Therapists at Sayu Healthy Living are available to teach CBT techniques related to improving sleep disturbances and insomnia.*

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