- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
10 Tips to Help You in Beating Insomnia
Sleep is Important
Most of us know that a lack of sleep is bad for us: We just don't think or perform as well when we are tired as we do when we have had a good 7-9 hours of sleep. In fact, some researchers claim that the effect of going without sleep for long periods of time is like being intoxicated!
Not being able to sleep, insomnia, plagues many people, and I am no exception. Over the years, I've learned ways to overcome insomnia and get the rest I need. Keep in mind that these are remedies that work for me: They may not be appropriate for you. Consult with your doctor if insomnia becomes an ongoing problem.
10 Things that Help Me Sleep
1. I Set My Bedtime 2 Hours Earlier than Normal
Make no mistake: It is important to get back onto my regular sleep schedule. The problem is that anxiety about not being able to sleep again can make matters worse. By going to bed a little earlier, I can take the time to get relaxed and comfortable without feeling pressure to fall asleep right away.
2. I Stop Consuming Caffeine at Least 6 Hours Before I go to Sleep
This includes coffee, tea, and cola. If the insomnia lasts for more than a day, I eliminate caffeine altogether.
3. I Get Plenty of Exercise, But Not Right Before Retiring
I've found that a combination of vigorous walking outdoors plus indoor weight training is very good for re-setting my sleep schedule. I allow a gap of at least four hours between the end of exercise and going to bed so that I am not trying to sleep with my metabolism racing.
3. I Don't Nap During the Day
No matter how tired I am, I do NOT nap during the day. Period. Napping only makes the problem worse. The goal is to be tired enough at the end of the day that sleep is once again possible.
5. I Avoid Alcohol
Yes, alcohol can make me drowsy, but it also interferes with my quality of sleep.
6. I Make Sure that My Bed is Well-Made with Fresh Linens
A freshly made bed made up with newly laundered sheets makes a huge difference in my quality of sleep.
Tip: Some people find it easier to sleep if they are "swaddled": Try turning down the heat and/or turning on the air conditioning to cool down the room, and sleep under a sheet that has been tucked in on either side of the bed, plus one or more heavy blankets/comforters.
7. I Restrict Entertainment
No TV, films, video games, Internet, computer usage, music, radio, etc, two hours before bedtime.
Reading is permissible up until one hour before bedtime: It is still stimulating to the mind, so I don't bring my book to bed.
8. I Eat Carbohydrates Before Retiring
The process of digesting carbohydrates is tiring, and as such, I am much more likely to go to sleep after eating them.
9. I Eliminate All Light from my Bedroom
I draw curtains, remove nightlights, and close doors. No distractions.
10. I Use Over-the-Counter Remedies and Suppliments Judiciously
I have found that the supplements GABA and 5-HTP can help me relax and sleep, though these are not for everyone. Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain an antihistamine which can, in some cases, encourage sleep, but can also leave me very dopey and groggy the next day.
Rooibos tea/tisane, which is not a true tea and does not contain caffeine, can also help me relax, as can chamomile tea/tisane.
If you use a supplement or OTC sleep aid, be sure to read all warning labels and speak with your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions.