Sleep Well, Insomniacs

Sleep Well, Insomniacs
Álvaro Cabezuelo

Written and verified by the psychologist Álvaro Cabezuelo.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

You turn over again in your bed and you change your position. You try counting sheep…1…2…3…Nothing. There’s no way. You get up, go to the fridge, and drink some water. You go back through the hallway with the conviction that now you will get some sleep…

But no. You can’t do it. Tomorrow will be another day in which you will go through your routineand then nighttime will return, and again you’ll toss and turn in bed. What is preventing you from falling asleep?

Why can’t you fall asleep?

When you suffer from insomnia, sometimes you can’t sleep well just because you’re so afraid you won’t fall asleep.

Other times, it’s your overactive mind that prevents you from falling asleep, cycling through thoughts over and over again, trying to resolve problems, family issues, plans, preoccupations, body pains, work, etc. Trying to control your thoughts is ironic and paradoxical and causes more sleepless thoughts.

starry sky

Some thoughts will keep you from sleep, like believing that you’re losing time. Not paying attention to your body and taking certain substances will also keep you awake.

The importance of sleeping well

When you’re tired, it’s important to sleep, even if it’s just a nap. When you have to perform a very important task, like driving a train or performing a surgery, it’s important to stop for a few minutes and sleep, because other people’s lives depend on us performing these actions correctly.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might try exercise. On top of giving order to our lives, exercise also improves the quality of sleep. It exerts an anxiolytic and antidepressant effect, especially if it’s aerobic exercise. Getting exercise improves duration and quality of sleep, as well as our ability to achieve a restful and restorative sleep. However, it’s important to avoid physical activity right before bed, unless it’s a short walk in the fresh air or a recreational activity that helps to alleviate stress, clear your head, and improve your mood.

laying by the lake

Recommendations and techniques to combat insomnia

  1. Value the importance of sleep for a rich and happy life.
  2. Reorganize. It’s important to make time for everything (including time for sleeping) and regulate your daily life and activities. Your way of life is related to the way you sleep, and vice versa.
  3. Define your daily work goals and enjoy the satisfaction of having completed them. There might be factors that make it impossible to plan how the next day will go, but in any case, organizing your agenda is organizing your sleep.
  4. Maintain a regular schedule. Get up and go to bed at almost the same time every day, regardless of whether you’re tired or not.
  5. Overhaul your diet. Remove coffee and soda from your diet and watch what you eat, especially for dinner. Stimulant drinks like tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and soda can hinder sleep. The same effect is found with spicy food and foods that produce flatulence, acid reflux, or diarrhea. Chocolate, mints, and fatty foods decrease pressure on the sphincter, which causes acid reflux in people who are prone to this reaction. In general, it’s advisable to go to bed at least two hours after you eat dinner to avoid acid reflux issues. You should avoid diuretics like parsley, endives, celery, garlic, eggplant, or onions, which can interrupt sleep. Foods that favor sleep are rich in tryptophan (bananas, pasta, rice, whole grains, dates, figs, nuts) or in melatonin (corn, tomatoes, potatoes).
  6. Find a better place to sleep and use it as a refuge, a cozy little corner.
  7. Keep one foot outside the sheets or blankets. This will regulate your body temperature and improve your circulation.
  8. Write. If new ideas or plans come to you after you’ve gone to bed, it’s good to have a pencil and paper nearby so you can write them down. Once they’re written, you’ll free yourself from them in a way. They’ll disappear from your thoughts and you’ll be able to sleep peacefully.
  9. Meditate to direct your attention towards breathing and put yourself in a peaceful mental state.

Sweet dreams…

sleeping lion

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.