If you are one of the millions of Americans who spend most of the early morning hours tossing and turning in bed, don’t feel too bad about it; the average American will have problems sleeping at one time or another. In fact, approximately 10 percent of the American population suffers from chronic insomnia.
But what are you supposed to do when you can’t sleep? Many of us think maybe we should get up and watch some TV or read a book until we are tired enough to actually fall asleep. But that isn’t always the best choice. Here are several things people do when they can’t sleep that they really shouldn’t be doing.
Eyeballing the clock
Some people, when they can’t fall asleep, spend most of their time watching the clock: “when am I going to fall asleep? I have a board meeting in three hours!” is a common occurrence for people suffering from insomnia. But all this does is make it even easier to stay awake. Instead, get rid of the clock. Turn it around or put it in your bed-side drawer. Don’t worry about the time and just try to relax.
Like I said, many people resort to watching TV or reading a book when they can’t sleep. They think that watching their favorite program will make them feel sleepy and therefore should be able to get some sleep. However, even watching a boring TV show is less stimulating. Avoid watching engaging TV shows or a favorite book; these will just keep your brain working hard. Instead, find an activity that will bore your brain; something without stimulation, such as knitting, watching a boring infomercial on TV, or picking up a really boring book. Do anything you want, just avoid online chess, whodunit books or anything else that might make your brain work harder.
Get out of bed
Tossing and turning in the sack will nothing to help you get to sleep. Instead, find another comfortable place to relax, again with something that will not stimulate your brain. You have to remind your brain that your bed is used only for sleeping, not for tossing and turning and watching the clock. Your favorite recliner or couch should be sufficient enough to be a suitable alternative to your bed while you try to relax your mind.
Turn off the lights
When you decide to get out of bed, remember not to turn on bright overhead lights. If you are going to watch TV or go on the computer, don’t turn on any lights; just use the glow of the screen as a light source. If you are going to read, use a dim light, such as a desk lamp to do your reading under. Being exposed to bright lights tricks your brain into thinking its day time; hence time to wake up. This is because when your brain thinks it’s the morning, it will stop releasing melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep.