I love sleeping. Some days, it is the thing I look forward to most; coming home, curling in my bed, becoming a comfortable blob and melting into sleep. Recently, I have begun to hate sleeping. For the last four weeks, I have been experiencing insomnia. I spend each night tossing and turning until I can no longer take it. I sit up, frustrated and tired, knowing I have to get up early because I have a long day ahead of me, which means I either attempt sleeping again or I go to the kitchen and try to make chamomile tea to fix all my problems.
Before this semester, I had never experienced insomnia like this before.
I’ve had the occasional night where I can’t go to sleep, but what I have been experiencing lately makes me want to cry and frankly makes me afraid of sleeping in my bed. I don’t know why this is happening. One night I took ZZZquil, according to the reviews it is supposed to knock you out, I was very excited to try it. I took it around 10:30 p.m. on Monday night, only to be drowsy for an hour and then be wide awake until 3 a.m.
Before bed, I start to ask myself all these questions. “Why is this happening?” “Did I have coffee too late?” “Did I even drink coffee today?” Maybe I laid around too much, or maybe I didn’t lay around enough?” I have done a lot of research about insomnia in the last couple of weeks because I miss sleep and I want it back.
Create a bedtime routine.
This piece of advice comes straight from a doctor at the University of Maryland, who was trying to help me and my insomnia. She told me that having a routine before bed can reinforce to your body and mind that it is time for bed. Having a snack, brushing your teeth, reading a book for 15 minutes and then going to bed every night to try and get your mind to recognize that routine as bedtime and hopefully help you fall asleep.
Don’t use your phone before bed.
This one is major, and something I feel I have definitely been struggling with. The blue light in your phone keeps you up, and going on it right before bed leaves you tossing and turning. It is recommended to put your phone down at least 30 minutes before you try to fall asleep to try and give your eyes a rest.
Relax your body with yoga and try meditating to relax the mind. Stress affects a good night’s sleep, but unfortunately can’t be avoided in college. Right before you go to bed, try to meditate some of your stress away. Put you mind at peace by playing calming music while you meditate.
Don’t exercise at night to make yourself tired.
Going to the gym late at night to make yourself tired does not work as effectively as you may think. Sometimes when you go to the gym at night you give yourself a boost of energy, like a runner’s high, and then find yourself unable to go to bed. “Sometimes at the end of the day I’ll try to get a workout in before I sleep but I’ve found that afterward, I have more energy and then I end up staying up until like 4 a.m.” University of Maryland sophomore Logan O’Connell said. Don’t get yourself too wound up before you plan on getting your shut-eye in.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night.
One day you’re up at 7 a.m. and your day begins before the sun rises and the next you don’t have class until noon, so of course, you’re going to stay up late and sleep until lunch. This is not so ideal. A set time to go to bed and wake up helps you sleep better through the weeks. “I started taking naps during the day which messed up my circadian cycle really bad and then it was even harder to fall asleep at night.” said Claire Chung, a diagnosed insomniac, and Culinary Institute of America sophomore. Getting up at weird times and going to bed at weird times messes with your circadian rhythm, your sleep cycle and can lead to insomnia.
The last couple of weeks living at home, just like the rest of the world, did wonders for my sleep because I followed this advice. I gave myself a routine, I try and go to sleep every night at 12:30 and wake up every morning around 9:15. I take melatonin every night. The first couple of nights left me so stressed and worried I didn’t sleep well; I was so worried about my insomnia that I gave myself insomnia. After the first two weeks of being home, I developed a solid routine, and I have been sleeping like a baby every night since. Overcoming insomnia is doable, and you can trust me because I did it.