This is an extensive collection of ways that people have dealt with insomnia. Of course there is no guarantee that every one of these tips will be helpful and no attempt to provide medical advice but others have found them worth reading.
Consult with your doctorAlthough most insomnia is the result of tension, stress, and anxiety, insomnia can also result from medical and psychological causes. If your doctor says that your insomnia doesn't have a medical cause then read on.
NapsIn most cases taking a nap during the day is counterproductive to sleeping at night. When the body is rested from taking a nap it is not as tired at the end of the day, which makes getting to sleep more of a challenge. If you must nap, do it in the early afternoon and limit the nap to 30 minutes or less.
- 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise in the morning and/or early afternoon helps promote sleep
- avoid any exercise within 3 hours of bedtime
- slow stretches before bedtime helps to slow the body down
- avoiding mentally stimulating activities 3 hours before bedtime
Stimulant control means more than paying attention to the food and drink you consume. We'll get to those in a moment. For now consider avoiding any waking activities while in bed, like talking on the telephone, watching TV, eating, or even using your laptop. Doing so will train your body to associate your bed with sleep instead of any other activity that may keep you awake.
The only exception to this is reading in bed, especially if what you are reading is boring. Save the exciting stuff for daytime reading.
Another factor that falls under stimulant control is the amount of sunlight you are getting every day. Make a point of getting outside in the sunshine for at least 15 minutes a day. We are NOT talking about looking straight at the sun, which is never a good idea. Just being in an area where you receive the full brightness of the sun stimulates the retinas and helps restore the body's natural day/night cycle.
A big meal in the evening can sometimes keep you awake. Fatty foods take a lot of work for the stomach to digest, which can keep you up. Foods high in acid and spicy foods can cause heartburn and other stomach problems when it comes time for bed. Eating a large lunch and a light evening meal is most conductive to a good night's sleep.
Make your drink choices appropriate for the time of day. Stimulants are good for morning and midday but during the evening try some of these:
Many people are just asking for trouble by drinking to much liquid right before bedtime. If you stop all liquids about 2 hours before retiring it give the body a chance to void them before you go to sleep. This tip is especially appropriate for those who wake up to urinate in the middle of the night.
- Make your own elixir of cider vinegar and honey
- Drink warm milk 15 minutes before bedtime
- Drink herbal tea (be Herbs below) before bedtime
It is also important to avoid stimulating drinks before bedtime such as:
- energy drinks
Herbs for Insomnia
Melatonin is effective in several types of insomnia and has demonstrated effectiveness equivalent to the prescription sleeping pill zopiclone in inducing sleep and regulating the sleep cycle. One particular benefit of melatonin is that it does not impair performance related skills.
Natural substances such as 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan have been said to fortify the serotonin-melatonin pathway and aid people with various sleep disorders including insomnia.
Herbs such as valerian, hops, chamomile, lavender, and passion-flower have all been reported to provide some relief from insomnia. There have been multiple studies of Valerian and it appears to be modestly effective.
There are several environmental factors that go into getting a good night's sleep.
- Light - It is often difficult to get to sleep if your enviroment is too light. Blue light seems to be especially stimulating. If you minimize the light in your sleeping area this will help inprove the quality of your sleep. For some people that means wearing a sleep mask. For others it means getting rid of the illuminated bedroom clock. If you can't replace the clock, you can at least block it with something so that you can't see it without getting up from bed. The idea is to keep your bedroom as dark as possible.
- Sound - Audio distractions are sometimes difficult to deal with but if you have to pay an dog trainer to help quiet your pet it may be worth it. If you can't do anything about the noise then try masking it with a fan, soothing sounds from a recording, or white noise. Ear plugs may also help.
- Sleep in a well-ventilated room. If your room is too stuffy from a lack of ventilation it can affect your ability to relax.
- Temperature - Most people sleep better when the room temperature is on the cool side of comfortable. It seems to make snuggling more pleasurable.
- The bed you sleep on - A good firm bed provides support for the entire body, which allows it to really relax.
- Magnetic fields - Say what? Yes, some people report improving the quality of their sleep when their body is in alignment with Earth's magnetic poles. How do they do that? Imagine your body as a compas needle; sleep with your head pointing North and your feet pointing South. It may sound bizarre but it's worth a try. At least it doesn't cost anything to try it.
Most experts agree that a regular sleep schedule produces the best quality sleep. There is two parts to a regular sleep schedule; the time you retire and the time you get up. Going to bed at the same time every night trains the body to expect to do that, which makes it easier to get to sleep.
When you wake up in the morning, get right up. That includes weekends and holidays. Rather than laying in bed thinking about getting up, just do it. In other words, stop practicing laying in bed awake. It only contributes to insomnia.
Get up a half-hour earlier. Strange as it may seem this may be just what your body needs in order to be tired enough to sleep at the end of the day.
90 minutes before bedtime
Start your transition from the active part of your day to the winding down part. Avoid anxiety-inducing activities such as:
- checking email
- paying bills or budgeting
- watching evening news
30 minutes before bedtime
- Taking a warm bath is known to relax the body and it is a great way to remove toxins from the body. You may want to try bath salts or a combination of Epsom salts and baking soda, one cup of each works well.
- listening to slow paced, calming music
- get a full body massage
- get a stomach rub
- Take a few minutes to write down your concerns
- Take a short walk around your home before retiring to reassure yourself that everything is as it should be; doors locked, windows, etc.
- Develop a bedtime routine. This is a series of calm activities you do every night just before bed. Having a bedtime routine programs the body to get ready for sleep, which makes getting to sleep even easier.
- Eating a small snack before bedtime helps promote sleep, especially if it is one of the following:
- Granola with low-fat milk or yogurt
- Half a turkey or peanut butter sandwich
- Banana with a cup of chamomile tea
- Small bowel of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal
When it is Time To Sleep
When it is time to go to sleep there are several things you can do to help yourself drift off to sleep.
- Guided imagery - start by visualizing youself somewhere peaceful. Imagine what you would see if you were actually there. What would you hear? What would you smell? Imagine feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin. Just relax and enjoy it as you drift off to sleep.
- Use aromatherapy (jasmine or lavender oil) to provide relaxing fragrances.
- Imagine you are somewhere boring, maybe pick a boring time from memory and relive it. Let that tired, bored, heavy, sleepy feeling spread throughout your body.
- Relax with meditation
- Progressive relaxation: While lieing down start by tenseing all the muscles in both feet as tight as you can. Hold for a count of 10 and then relax. Do this with each muscle group in your body, working up from your feet to the top of your head.
- Deep breathing technique, also called Abdominal breathing: Deep breathing that involves the chest, ribs, lower back, and belly affects the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls relaxation. Start by breathing normally and make each breath a little deeper with more volume than the last. Breath slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth. When you can't take a deeper breath, relax, you're done.
- Self hypnosis
- You've been trying to get to sleep. Now try something different. Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. This simple shift in thinking can produce wonderful results.
If you wake up too soon
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep within a half-hour, get up but avoid bright lights. That includes the light from a computer screen. Bright light will stimulate your brain's day/night balance (circadian cycle). This is a good time to try some of the other "before bedtime" tips.
If you are considering sleeping pills, read the feedback about the best known sleeping pill. The experience of those who use them and possible side effects are something you really should be aware of before use.
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