According to guidelines from a physician group, insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.
1) Pick a constant waking time
This is rule number one; your circadian rhythm is governed by routine. Consistency optimises the quality and efficiency of your sleep. You need to wake up at the same time every morning – and, yes, that includes weekends!
2) Pick a constant bed time
After choosing your waking time, work back in cycles to figure out when to go to bed. This ensures you’ll be in the lightest sleep phase when you wake up, meaning you will start the day feeling refreshed.
Remember: one cycle lasts 90 minutes and the average person needs five cycles a night, so you should be aiming for roughly 7 hours and 30 minutes sleep.
3) Optimise your sleeping environment
In an ideal world your bedroom should be a place dedicated to rest and relaxation. This means your brain will automatically start to switch off when you enter it. Empty your room. TVs and other gadgets are sources of mental stimulation and distraction; they make it much harder to wind down in the evening. Black-out blinds are essential. You don’t want your melatonin schedule to be affected by fluorescent lights outside. (An eye mask is a viable alternative.)
Your bedroom should be cooler than the rest of the house, with circulating fresh air. Studies suggest the ideal bedroom temperature is 18C to 20C.
4) Consider supplements
These aren’t sleeping pills. They’re natural supplements that assist in regulating sleep hormones. Get advice from a doctor first.
• Magnesium with L-threonate: Studies suggest that the L-threonate increases magnesium absorption. I have been using this for a few months now and have found it quite effective. I am naturally more of an early riser and tend to be a light sleeper; this product has helped reduce the number of times I wake up during the night.
• Valerian: A herb that’s often recommended to reduce the amount of time it takes to nod off.
• 5HTP: This molecule acts as a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter essential for a good night’s sleep.
• Melatonin: This hormone can be used in supplement form as an occasional sleep aid and is especially effective against jet lag. – The Daily Telegraph
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