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Insomnia is a highly misunderstood condition. Those who have never experienced it fail to realize how serious and debilitating it can be. After all, we’ve all had sleepless nights so what’s the problem?

But insomnia is much more than occasionally struggling to drop off at night. It is an ongoing sleep disorder that can have far-reaching impacts on your health. It is characterized as a persistent difficulty in staying or falling asleep, while not feeling refreshed on waking. Over time this can lead to severe fatigue, mental health issues, weakened immunity, and a higher risk of illness. It can impair your performance at work or in education and can affect your social and romantic relationships. A good night’s sleep is essential for all aspects of your life, and if you aren’t getting enough rest you will struggle to maintain a healthy, functioning lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to beat insomnia and get more sleep. Here are four tips to help you drop off.

Stay active

The more active you are each day, the more your body will crave sleep. If you have a busy schedule full of socializing, hobbies, and physical exercise, then it will be easier to fall asleep when you get into bed. On the other hand, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and don’t get out much then you’ll only be making your insomnia worse. Make an effort to incorporate at least thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise into each day. This could be a brisk walk, a lunchtime run, or cycling to and from work. If you’re a complete beginner to exercise, there are plenty of free online workout videos for all levels. 

Meditate

A common trigger for insomnia is stress and anxiety. If your mind is racing from work worries, relationship concerns, or mental health issues then it’s understandable that sleep doesn’t come easy. Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and cope with the unpleasant symptoms of stress and anxiety. Several studies show that it is highly effective at improving the quality and quantity of sleep. Download a meditation app like Headspace or Calm, and run through a guided session shortly before bed.

Put down your phone

Devices with screens emit a harsh blue light that wires your brain and makes it harder to fall asleep. Switching off technology in the few hours before bed could be the best collusion to help you nod off. Instead of watching TV and scrolling through social media, spend your evening engaging in more relaxing activities like reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to music.

Try medication

If lifestyle changes don’t seem to work then there are several medication options commonly used to treat insomnia. Over-the-counter sleep medications can help you drop off, or you can visit your doctor to talk about prescription medicines. Some people even swear by natural solutions like herbal teas, warm milk, or even CBD oil to aid sleep (try this page to find out more).