So, you have a little bit of trouble sleeping—You brush it off, and blame things like stress, caffeine or food before bed, or your use of electronics before bed. You don’t think you fall under the category of “insomniac” because you may not be staying awake the entire night, and you don’t think that slumbering at a sleep lab to get a proper diagnosis is necessary—and it might not be.
There are actually three different types of insomnia, which means a higher chance for us to have one of these three types. If you simply take way too long to get to sleep, you may have onset insomnia, while waking up several times in the night may actually be middle insomnia. If you wake up much too early and cannot fall back asleep, that is terminal insomnia. It is important to pay attention to the time of night/early morning you are having trouble sleeping, and paying attention to other characteristics of your insomnia. Don’t automatically head to a sleep lab, try these tips to help improve your sleep.
- The more REM sleep, the better. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is a part of the sleep cycle where we are in our deepest sleep. This stage is hard to get to if it takes us longer to fall asleep. The more REM sleep in a given sleep cycle, the more information remembered from the previous day, as well as lower pulse and temperature when you awaken.
- Waking up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To increase the amount of REM sleep we are getting, briefly waking up for five to ten minutes after around five hours of onset sleep can drastically increase the amount of REM sleep.
- Bedtime snacks are your friend. Sometimes we can even sleep eight to ten hours and wake up and still feel awful, which is due to low blood sugar. Eating celery with two teaspoons of organic almond butter or peanut butter can help avoid this feeling.
- Change the position in which you sleep. The “half military crawl” position has been said to help insomniacs sleep successfully. This position involves you lying on your chest with your head on a pillow and your arms down to both sides. Then, bring your right arm up and under the pillow and your right knee out to the side and bend it close to 90 degrees. This position doesn’t allow you to fidget as much and results in better sleep.
- Don’t exceed 70 degrees when setting room temperature. The ideal room temperature for successful, easy slumber was 65 to 70 degrees. Anything hotter didn’t work and anything lower was too cold. Experimenting falling asleep with different thickness levels of socks can drastically change the temperature far more than you can imagine.
- Take a cold bath. This may be hard to wrap our heads around, since we usually take a hot bath if anything. Taking a 1.5 to 3 mg melatonin and then placing your body slowly in a half-full bath filled with water and 2-3 bags of almost melted ice could be your ticket to a deep sleep.
Sleeping can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Try these tips to be on your way to better sleep. For a closer look on insomnia and more ways to sleep better, view Tim Ferris’ article on sleep.