As our society focuses more and more on wellness, it seems that everywhere we turn there is new advice on how to stay in shape and nourish our bodies. While a holistic diet and regular exercise are crucial to our physical and mental wellness, we often overlook another vital element of a healthy lifestyle: Sleep.
In the midst of our late-night, early-morning, go-getter schedules, sleep is often regarded as something that we can simply “catch up on” later. In reality, getting a full night’s rest gives our body the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate, improving our overall performance in the hours we are awake.
In order to function effectively, sleep must be a priority, not an afterthought.
On average, most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep a night in order to achieve their greatest potential.
Not only is sleep necessary for our physical being as it decreases the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, it also has a strong impact on our emotional and mental health.
Sleep helps the brain function properly by improving learning and aiding in decision making. Because of this, sleep deficiency has been linked to depression and risky behavior.
What Causes Insomnia?
Unfortunately, even those who understand the importance of sleep and make rest a priority may struggle with insomnia, or the habitual inability to sleep.
Insomnia can be caused by several physical and mental factors such as:
- Physical issues
- Acid reflux
Chronic insomnia can lead to many health issues related to sleep deficiency, and should be treated as a serious condition.
During addiction recovery, is it not uncommon to experience insomnia. Sometimes, this manifests as the inability to fall asleep.
Other times, it may be due to recurrent jarring dreams that disrupt sleep. Regardless of the type of insomnia a person in recovery is experiencing, it is important that they understand their inability to sleep is a normal part of post-acute withdrawal symptoms and will pass.
Sleep disorders are often a contributing factor to relapse so it is crucial that anyone experiencing difficulty getting a full night’s rest practice healthy habits that are conducive to sleep.
5 Natural Ways to Treat Insomnia
While there are medicinal treatments available to treat insomnia, there are many natural practices that can be integrated every day not only to improve sleep, but overall wellness. Here are 5 natural ways to treat insomnia…
1. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
To get your body acclimated to a regular routine, it is important to go to bed and wake up at the same time, even if you didn’t sleep well the night before. Going to sleep at inconsistent times doesn’t give the body an opportunity to distinguish between waking hours and sleeping hours.
In addition to maintaining a regular bedtime/morning routine, avoid taking naps. Naps can disrupt your sleep schedule and make it much more difficult for your body to fall into a deep sleep at night.
2. Create a Positive Sleep Environment
There are many external factors that play into getting a full night’s rest. Don’t think that just because you are asleep, the state of your surroundings doesn’t matter!
To encourage a deep sleep, make sure your room is cool and well-ventilated. Use a fan or a white noise machine to eliminate distractions and lull you to sleep. Be sure your bedroom remains dark during sleeping hours, and invest in light blocking curtains if necessary.
3. Prepare Your Body For Sleep
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is more than just going to bed at the same hour. People who get the best sleep have a routine they follow in the hours leading up to bedtime as well.
Be sure to step away from any screens at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light emitted from laptops and phones is stimulating and tends to wake up the mind.
Consider taking a warm bath and turn down the lights in your home around 1.5 to 2 hours before bedtime to help the body relax.
4. Protect the Sanctity of the Bedroom
Use your bedroom for sleep. Spending time in bed working, eating, or relaxing will create an association between your sleeping quarters and being awake. If possible, only spend lengths of time in your bedroom when you are sleeping.
This rule also applies on the nights you are unable to sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning, go into another room and engage in a relaxing activity. Sometimes reading or listening to talk radio can calm the mind and encourage the body to go back to sleep.
5. Adjust Your Wellness Routine Accordingly
During recovery, it is important to follow a healthy diet and stay active. While it may seem difficult to establish a schedule that works for you, maintaining a consistent routine will help you find your rhythm.
Sleep is an important part of this routine and should be taken into account when creating a schedule.
In preparation for sleep, it is best to exercise at least 4 hours before your bedtime, followed by a healthy dinner shortly after.
Do not go to sleep soon after a large meal or workout session as these activities are stimulating, not calming.
It is also recommended that you practice meditation just before bed. This will promote relaxation and prepare the body and mind for sleep.