Do You Have Insomnia?

With the crazy schedules we maintain, we might assume that our exhaustion leads to sound sleep. However, insomnia plagues many of us. Individuals who attend counseling at OSU Sports Medicine report sleep problems as one of their highest concerns. Insomnia is one symptom of depression and anxiety.

Are we helpless in reducing insomnia? Absolutely not! There are many effective strategies for improving quality of sleep.

Five Tips to Catch Some ZZZs

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine While it is difficult to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day, experts recommend this routine to help sleep. If you have insomnia, try to keep your wake-up time constant but go to bed one hour later for a few nights. Some people enjoy a nighttime routine that includes a warm shower, a hot non-caffeinated beverage, reading, or writing in a journal. Avoid watching TV or using electronics right before bed, because blue light suppresses melatonin.

2. Chill Out  Insomnia is so frustrating. And, tensing up or trying to force sleep makes it more difficult. Use diaphragmatic breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to unwind after a long day. Sport psychologists can make a relaxation audio file for you. Trust your body to slip into sleep when you’re ready.

3. Think Accurately about Sleep There are myths that interfere with sleep, like, “I have to get 8 hours or tomorrow will be ruined!” Realistically, many people function quite well on less sleep. Our bodies will eventually catch up on sleep if we don’t worry about it too much. Look at insomnia as a gift, allowing you to get things done or attend to a pressing issue. Keep a notepad or journal near the bed to write down worries to be addressed while awake.

4. Interfere with ruminations  Do you have worrisome thoughts playing in a loop in your mind? Dr. Marsha Linehan advises interfering with those ruminations by counting 1-10 ten times. The first time through, pause after one. The second time through, pause after two, and so on. This technique makes it impossible to worry by occupying your mind. Another tip is to splash cold water on your face. Or, label your worry as solvable or insolvable. If insolvable, go deep into the worst thing that could happen and imagine coping with it.

4. Other Sound Strategies Get more balanced exercise. Limit caffeine later in the day. Keep your bedroom cold, dark, and quiet to enhance some good zzzzs. And, avoid using alcohol to fall asleep (alcohol actually interferes with REM sleep).

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