It's late into the night, you're exhausted, you're in bed longer than you've liked and you're still awake because you can't shut off your brain. You get up, reach for a sleeping pill or some sort of sleeping aid for relief. Sounds familiar? It's okay, me too and for thousands of other Canadians. The sleeping aid will kick in and you'll get your sleep. But that's not a long term solution if you suffer from Insomnia.
At best, sleeping aids are temporary relief. Whether you use prescription sleeping pills, over-the-counter sleeping aids like Tylenol PM, NyQuil or herbal supplements like chamomile or melatonin, they have side effects, which vary depending on the specific drug, the dosage, and how long the drug lasts in your system.
Common side effects of sleeping aids include next-day drowsiness, headaches, body aches, constipation, dry mouth, loss of concentration and even drug tolerance. More severe side effects include sleepwalking, sleep-driving and risk of harming yourself and or others.
For better sleep, opt for an activity or behavioural change. Here are some tips to put into practice to create habits that will combat insomnia safely and effectively.
Writing Things Down
Put your thoughts on paper. Create your to-do list, reminders and even jot down your problems and emotions to clear your mind. By writing everything down releases some pressure and allows you to feel organized and shut your brain off. Revisit your list with a fresh set of eyes the next day after a good night's sleep may help you with a solution you couldn't see the night before.
Deep Abdominal Breathing
This type of breathing is deliberate and involves slow deep breaths that open the chest, the stomach and rib cage. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Each exhales should be longer than your inhale. Deep breathing will trigger the part of our nervous system that controls relaxation to aid in sleeping.
Sex prior to bed will help combat insomnia. This is due to the hormones released during sex including prolactin after an orgasm instantly helping you feel relaxed and sleepy.
This one you hear a lot. Exercising regularly allows us to blow off steam and control daily stressors. It also helps lowers your body temperature significantly at night allowing the body to fall and stay asleep longer. Aerobic-style exercises such as jogging or playing soccer are ideal to combat insomnia as they increase oxygen levels in the blood.
Try one or a combination of these activities to help you fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. These activities are the most natural and effective way to relax your body and mind so it can get the rest it deserves. If you really need to reach for sleeping aids, always consult with a physician first so you know if it's right for you.
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