Everyone has a sleepless night every now and then, but if it’s a regular occurrence you might just be suffering from insomnia. You’ve tried counting backwards from 100, you’ve tried sleeping pills and all the other tricks you could think of but nothing seems to work. Not being able to sleep makes you anxious, which leads to your body not being able to relax, which keeps you up. Such is the spiral of insomnia. Try these hacks you might not have heard of yet to try and catch some of those elusive Z’s:
The magic of aromatherapy
It’s not just an old wive’s tale that the scent of lavender helps you to fall asleep, it’s been proven by studies to both help you get to sleep quicker and make you feel more rested the next day. A few drops of lavender oil on your pillow case are a quick fix, but if you need more buy a diffuser that will fill your whole room with the comforting aroma.
We all know that the secret to inner peace and calm is meditation but anyone who has attempted to ‘think about nothing’ for more than two seconds knows how impossible it can feel. Use an app to guide you through meditation so the pressure is taken off your brain a bit. Headspace is a great app for learning the art of being mindful, and is narrated by a man with an extremely comforting voice. You might find yourself nodding off before he has even finished his little talk on being present, but that’s just fine.
Hug yourself to sleep
Think about how reassuring a big hug is when you’re feeling overwhelmed. A lot of people find the sensation of pressure on their body very relaxing and comforting. This is the thinking behind Deep Pressure Therapy, usually used on kids and people with autism. You can use a weighted blanket to create a similar effect to a hug. It applies pressure all over your body which helps to calm your nervous system (whose over-activity is probably behind your insomnia). You can buy a locally-made one online made out of 100% Egyptian cotton.
Wear a Sleep Shepherd
This device, which straps to your head while you sleep, was designed by a product designer when his insomniac daughter ended up in hospital because of her sleep medication. Made out of light-weight fabric the Sleep Shepherd comfortably sits around your head and uses ‘binaural beats’, which are sounds at specific frequencies that tell your brain to slow down from awake-mode to sleep-mode. It also tracks your brain’s activity and adjusts the beats accordingly. Read more about the Sleep Shepherd and order yourself one on their website.
Change your bedroom decor
Even though the lights in your room are turned off other lights like from the moon, street lights or passing cars can be enough to disturb your sleep. Replace your curtains with black-out curtains, which will totally eliminate any outside light. Sleeping in a totally pitch-black room can make a huge difference in helping to trick your brain into falling asleep. Be warned: it can be extra hard to wake up in the morning because you’ll wake up in total darkness.
Try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is evidence-based therapy usually used to combat anxiety and depression, but can also be super useful in your battle against insomnia. Find a CBT specialist who specialises in insomnia and begin your journey of reprogramming your brain’s patterns that have led to your sleepless state. Your CBT journey will last around 6 to 8 weeks and will involve speaking to a professional who will give you techniques to use at home. The sessions will help you tackle the roots of poor sleep: negative thought patterns, emotions and behaviours associated with insomnia, such as the ‘racing brain’.
If you feel you’ve tried every solution under the sun and are still not getting enough sleep then it might be time to see a professional. Insomnia could be a symptom of anxiety, depression or another health-related problem and talking to a psychologist could help you to understand and deal with this better.
Read more about mental health.
Read more about body health.