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How to sleep at night: The battle against insomnia

Updated on August 23, 2010

 For some of us, the act of falling asleep is a night long challenge and struggle.  The reasons are many while the solutions seem to be few.  Tossing and turning while a million different thoughts, feelings, and ideas keep running through your mind keeping you from fading off into that much needed state of rest.

People who have never suffered from insomnia, sleeplessness, or sleep deprivation really cannot empathize with those of us who suffer chronically from it.  We call ourselves "night owls", light sleepers, parents, students... the list of excuses for our lack of rest can be as endless as our nights.

The medications you can take over the counter or with a prescription have a list of side effects that are frightening.  Often times making people wonder if the pros outweigh the cons of taking it. 

So what are the sleepless to do?  Allow me to share with you the solutions I have found.  I have beaten my battle against insomnia.  Perhaps with a little help, you can too.

How to sleep at night:

 1. Switch to waterat least 5 hours before your bedtime.  Sugar and caffeine have a huge impact on our ability to fall asleep.  Seemingly more so than those who do not suffer from sleep challenges and disorders.  Give your body what it truly needs - hydration with water.  This simple act will allow your body to function at a higher if not optimal level, allowing the natural act of drowsiness and sleep to occur.

2. Turn off the TV(and/or computer).  Your brain is being stimulated and bombarded by hundreds if not thousands of images per second.  At least 3 hours before you plan on going to sleep, avoid these forms of entertainment.  While some people love to fall asleep to their favorite movie or TV show and swear it is the only way they can get to sleep; their brains just aren't wired like those with sleep difficulties.  Find soothing, calming, and relaxing ways to gear down for the night such as: listening to slow music and/or reading a book.  Have a bonfire and watch the flames dancing against the evening sky.  Watch a sun set and listen to the change from bird songs to cricket chirps.

3. Turn down the lights.  Our bodies and brains are programed to create different chemical reactions at different points during the day.  For us "night owls" it seems that the onset of dusk creates an alarm system of alertness.  Ease your body into the transition by eliminating the light earlier and longer.  Resort to using natural sunlight coming through the windows.  Pull the shades during summer months to compensate for the longer days.  When you would normally flip on the light switch, stop yourself and light a candle in the room instead.  This is a more soothing and relaxing form of light. 

4. Melatoninsupliments: For most people the body creates melatonin naturally just before and during sleep.  This is what causes you to "feel" tired.  Often times people exposed to too bright of lights or those with sleep contidions do not produce enough melatonin naturally.  There are supliments available at most of the major general stores.  Take one pill 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep for the night.  Since this is a naturally occuring chemical in your body - there are no side effects as with sleep inducing medications.  You are simply giving your body a boost of what it already has, but just needs a little more of.

5. Write: For many insomnia sufferers the problem with resting your head on that pillow is the flood of information your brain tries to process all at once.  Some people even suffer headaches from the amount of thoughts that consume them at this time.  One of the best tricks out there is to take a notebook to bed with you.  Have a candle or nightlight to write by. (Just make sure it is on or in a fire safe holder.)  When those ideas, thoughts, and/or feelings start flooding in; simply write them all down.  Focus is an incredible weapon against sleeplessness.  You may find that your new problem is that you can't finish writing before your head hits the notebook!

 The best thing about these 5 steps is that they are completely natural. 

There are no side effects. 

There is no "possible addiction" other than the adaptation to healthier living and sleep filled nights.  If you are the parent of a baby or young child you will still have alert senses to wake up if/when needed without the worry of sleeping through a cry or call. 

You can still wake up for work in the morning without worrying about prolonged tiredness or drowsiness which can be caused by most (if not all) of the prescription medications out there.

Sleep IS possible.  By following these 5 simple, safe, and natural steps you can beat your insomnia and finally, finally sleep at night.


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