How to sleep better and avoid insomnia

Do you often feel tired but can’t sleep? Do you always find yourself lying in bed wide awake at night and tormented by random thoughts until the morning hours? Your lifestyle habits might be giving you insomnia.

“Insomnia is the inability to get the sufficient amount of sleep to feel rested and function normally. In most cases, it is caused by stress and unhealthy habits, which can be resolved by simple lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Nicky Montoya, president and CEO of MediCard Philippines, a leading health maintenance provider in the country.

Here are healthy habits to help prevent insomnia and get better sleep:

Be active during the day. Do regular exercise or adequate physical activities during the day so you will feel “tired” by the time you need to go to bed. The post-exercise drop in your body temperature promotes falling asleep. Breathing exercises can also help quiet your mind and calm your body. However, avoid doing rigorous exercises at night because it activates your stress response system, which makes you more alert.

Limit coffee, alcohol and nicotine. Drinking caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and smoking can interfere with your sleep because these substances contain stimulants. Coffee and alcohol can also increase night-time urination, which causes you to wake every few hours while withdrawal pangs from smoking may keep you awake at night. Avoid smoking before going straight to bed and avoid drinking coffee and alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.

Switch off the TV and put down the phone. Watching TV or fiddling with your smartphone and other light-emitting gadgets before bedtime can stimulate your mind and keep you awake. Avoid using these devices at least one hour before sleeping.

Eat a light meal in the evening. Practice eating heavy meals at breakfast and light meals during the evening so your body won’t be hard at work digesting food when it should be sleeping. Drinking a warm cup of milk before bedtime can also help you relax and may serve as a signal for your body to sleep, if done regularly.

Follow a regular sleep schedule. Stick to a regular waking and sleeping routine every day to program your biological clock. Listening to soothing music at night can help you doze off while setting your alarm clock and opening your blinds in the morning can help you get up. Avoid spending more time in bed.

See a doctor if you have a chronic insomnia. If your insomnia does not go away for more than three weeks despite lifestyle changes, it is best to consult a doctor. Your insomnia might be a symptom of an underlying health condition, like asthma or depression, or it could be a side effect of the medications you are taking. Your doctor can recommend the safe and effective treatments based on your medical evaluation.

“The demands of modern life can result in stress and and physical discomforts, which may trigger insomnia and other sleeping disorders. While almost everyone may have experienced insomnia at some point, it is best to seek treatment if the condition is getting in the way of your normal daily functioning,” advises Dr. Montoya.

The MediCard Lifestyle Center offers medical and specialty services for wellness and lifestyle diseases, including stress management counselling and physical therapy. For more information, visit http://mlc.medicardphils.com or call trunkline number 878-5101.