Managing OCD and Insomnia Symptoms
Sleep can, at times, evade all of us. We could be worried or excited about something, or we could have consumed alcohol or too much caffeine. However, there has been research to show that those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have higher-than-normal rates of insomnia.
The primary cause of this is thought to be obsessive thoughts, which can keep people up all night. It’s a difficult cycle to break; even knowing where to start to improve your sleepless nights is hard. So where do you begin if sleep evades you and your OCD is taking over your thoughts?
Like all mental health challenges, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to rectifying sleep issues when it comes to OCD. It is, of course, recommended that people should speak with their doctors or OCD therapists to find the most appropriate solution options. However, if you’re trying to manage OCD and insomnia symptoms and are looking for ways to improve your sleep quality, here are a few sleep tips that could support those with OCD.
Options For Managing OCD And Insomnia Symptoms
One of the most straightforward steps to getting an improved night’s sleep as you navigate your OCD is practising good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the behaviours you build around your nightly sleep routine. These practices trigger the brain into thinking it’s time for sleep and into good sleep thoughts. For example, going to bed and waking up at around the same time each day (including weekends).
Reading can help relax you and take your mind off your OCD thoughts. Try to avoid reading from a tablet or device and stick to the old-fashioned but more relaxing paper book.
Try to reduce or avoid bright light before bed; any light from electronic devices, particularly blue light, disrupts melatonin’s sleep-inducing hormone. In the morning, try to expose yourself to natural light as soon as you wake up to encourage a healthy circadian rhythm.
Make sure that the space you have for sleep is designated just for sleep. Keep work, social media, late-night shopping, and Netflix out of the bedroom. If you have a TV in the room, remove it and add anything that increases peace, comfort and relaxation. Limit your screen time before bed to help send the right signals to your brain.
Supplements And Herbal Remedies
Supplements and herbal remedies are a great OCD Insomnia treatment option; however, before taking any supplements or herbal remedies, check in with your doctor first to make sure that it won’t interfere with any treatments you’re using or medications you’re taking. Melatonin and valerian root may be beneficial for sleeplessness, both of which you can find at most pharmacies or health stores. Additionally, you can also drink various herbal teas to promote relaxation, including chamomile, lavender, and valerian.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Most (if not all) mental wellness advice will nearly always recommend meditation or mindfulness as a treatment option. OCD Insomnia is no different. Mindfulness has been shown to have numerous benefits for most, particularly in people with OCD, depression and anxiety. One study examined the use of distraction versus mindfulness in 30 patients with OCD. Those who used mediation skills felt less compelled to yield to their compulsions to neutralize them, and those who used only distraction strategies saw no change.
Meditation can take some practice, but you can get help from online classes or apps that can guide you through a meditation session. Begin slowly, with just a few minutes at a time and work your way up. Building this time into your nightly sleep hygiene routine can help.
Daily exercise (including walking outside) can help you fall asleep faster, wake up fewer times, and improve deep sleep. Try not to exercise close to bedtime because it can raise your body temperature and keep you awake.
Take it one step at a time.
As with any health improvement journey, your path to a peaceful night’s sleep might take some trial and error. Be patient with yourself. Consult with your doctor, OCD specialist or therapist, and celebrate every win.