Fear not! You can banish your insomnia with these terrific tips and learn how to go to sleep without taking potentially harmful pills or drugs.
- ‘Chillax” before you hit the sack. Start by taking a short walk after dinner, if possible, and then just before bedtime, do some reading or listen to mellow tunes. Also, some light stretching, meditation, yoga, or mantra will put your body and mind in the ideal state to welcome sleep. Try one or all of these things and you’ll see what difference it makes!
- Do all your unpleasant tasks and work stuff early in the evening. You definitely don’t want to be thinking about annoying, stressful bills or your boss before you go to bed. That’s the perfect recipe for insomnia!
- Your bedroom should be a quiet and peaceful place. If your bedroom is noisy due to external factors that you can’t control, put on a fan for white noise, use a sound machine or wear earplugs.
- The air in your bedroom should be cool. Set your bedroom temperature at 60 to 64 degrees F. You’ll know what the most comfortable temperature is for you, but the point is, you’ll sleep better when the air is cool as opposed to too warm. Your brain interprets a drop in body temperature around bedtime as a signal that it’s time to go to sleep. Following these internal instructions will help you get to sleep faster and provide more restful sleep.
- Make sure you’re warm enough but don’t use too many blankets. You don’t want to overheat your body causing yourself to perspire, which might cause rash or pimples, especially if your skin is sensitive. And, do I need to remind menopausal women about warming up too much in the middle of the night?
- Tuck in your sheets appropriately at the bottom of the bed to allow your feet to feel free and unrestricted. You don’t want to feel trapped or wake up in a nightmare about being rolled up in a rug!
- Make sure your mattress isn’t too soft. If your mattress is not firm enough, it probably isn’t offering proper support for your spine which will cause back pain and other issues.
- Get a new bed. Depending on the quality of your mattress and wear and tear, a bed can last from 5 to 20 years. But, if your mattress creaks loudly and appears to be worn out or sagging, you probably need a new one. A bad bed can cause sleep disturbances, make you feel tired after you wake up from a night’s sleep and also possibly damage your spine. I won’t even get into dust mites…
- Make sure you have a good pillow. You don’t want to wake up with a crick in your neck. This can also happen by using too many pillows, which put your head and neck in a bad position. Try special head-and-neck ergonomic pillows if a crick in your neck is a frequent problem.
- Your sleeping clothes should fit loosely and be warm or cool enough depending on the season. You want to make yourself as comfy as possible.
- A dark room is best for sleeping. Make sure your blinds or curtains are thick and try to limit the various lights that may populate your bedroom (digital clock, laptop, mobile phone, TV, etc.). Wear a sleep mask if necessary.
- Don’t sleep with your pets. Yeah, that’s a tough one, but your cuddly animal family members can trigger allergies and their movements can wake you up. It’s your call…
- Pack it in at the same time every night. Give or take a half an hour – you don’t want to risk pushing your circadian rhythm off track.
- Always get out of bed in the morning at the same time. Once again – give or take 30 minutes or so and you won’t screw up your inner clock. That includes the weekend and holidays!
- When you wake up, get out of bed without delay. I know it’s very tempting to take your time getting out of the bed in the morning, but you want your bed to be associated with sleeping and romance only – not lying awake.
- Open all your blinds or drapes first thing in the morning and let the sunshine in! This is about sending clear signals to your internal clock. The sooner your eyes register bright light, the sooner your mind and body will acknowledge the new day and become alert and awake.
- Don’t nap during the day. If you must nap, make it no longer than 20-30 minutes and it should be before 3:00 in the afternoon.
- Make sure you exercise daily. Hit the gym, do some aerobics or yoga, ride a bike or take a brisk 20-minute walk. Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Too much physical stimulation will heat up your body and make you alert and awake!
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol at least a couple hours before going to bed. Nicotine is a stimulant and alcohol may cause you to wake up during the night when it leaves your system, creating a glutamine rebound. This rebound will prevent you from entering into the more important, deeper levels of sleep, not to mention, it will make you have to get up to pee.
- Don’t drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks after dinner. That means tea (not herbal), many soft drinks, energy drinks, and – you’re not going to like this – hot chocolate or anything else that contains chocolate (if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine).
- Check the medicines you’re taking to make sure they aren’t nervous system stimulants. This one seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? However, there are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine.
- Keep your TV viewing light before bedtime. Instead of watching a heavy drama, or late night news, opt for a sit-com or something uplifting. And, by the way, a TV causes stimulation because its backlit screen emulates sunlight. Turn it off at least an hour before bed.
- The bedroom should be used exclusively for sleeping or intimacy. Nothing else – no TV, video games, telephone conversations, tablets, texting, working, reading…you get the picture.
- If you’re going to read before bedtime, just like watching TV, make sure the subject matter is light. Grisly murder mysteries with serial killers on the loose, or reading masters of horror, like Stephen King, might not be the best thoughts to have in your head before entering dreamland. And it’s best not to read in bed – remember, sleep only! BUT, if you MUST read in bed, purchase an orange light bulb to dial back the light intensity.
- Don’t socialize with people that may cause you to engage in intense or heated conversations in the evening. Arguments at night are lethal to an insomniac. That includes talking on the phone or texting or chatting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. All these activities will stimulate your brain and potentially get you wound up.
- Don’t eat excessive salt with dinner or in your evening snacks. In addition, eating dinners that are too rich or too spicy will be difficult to digest and wake you up with heartburn, indigestion or dehydration due to all the sodium.
- Don’t go to bed hungry. If you’re on a diet trying to lose a few pounds. be forewarned. Hunger can prevent you from getting to sleep. Eat a light, healthy snack about an hour or so before bed to help your body’s melatonin production. Read: Diet and Insomnia – Foods to Help You Sleep
- Eat snacks that contain complex carbohydrates, protein and calcium before bedtime. Foods like nuts and cheese contain the amino acid, tryptophan, which will improve the quality of your sleep. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin which both relax your mind. Whole grain crackers, turkey, yogurt, and oatmeal are more good evening snack ideas.
- Take some form of calcium and magnesium regularly after dinner. A slight deficiency of calcium can cause insomnia. Magnesium is a natural tranquilizer that helps prevent muscle cramps and restless leg syndrome. Calcium citrate is the form of calcium that is most easily absorbed by the body.
- Brew herbal teas such as chamomile, jasmine, and peppermint. These natural herbs can calm the nervous system and help promote sleep.
- Drink warm milk before bedtime. It’s the tryptophan in the milk that will stimulate your serotonin to make you sleepy. Add some honey for flavor and additional health benefits. If you don’t like milk, drink a teaspoon of honey with a cup of hot water. Honey stabilizes blood sugar levels and also contributes to melatonin production.
- Don’t drink fluids at least an hour before bedtime. Two hours is even better if you don’t want wake up during the night having to urinate. Yes, I know I just told you to drink tea and milk – just don’t drink them too close to bedtime!
- If you are refreshed after getting 6 hours of sleep, then it’s not necessary to get 8 hours just because you’ve heard this is the ‘proper’ amount of sleep. Everybody is different and has different needs. As a matter of fact, there are ‘short sleepers’, who function just fine with less than 6 hours sleep per night, and ‘long sleepers’ who need more than 9 hours for optimum performance. Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy were some famous short sleepers.
- Don’t think about problems and negative things while in bed. Instead, think about happy thoughts and pleasurable moments. Make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for and everything you love about your life. Think about the people and pets that you love and your proud moments and accomplishments. Visualize the beautiful places you’ve visited, like cool verdant forests or warm tropical beaches.
- Don’t sneak a peek at the clock. If you’re having trouble sleeping, checking to see how late it is creates anxiety and will just makes things worse.
- If you find you’re not getting enough undisturbed and restful sleep with your spouse or partner, then try sleeping in separate beds or rooms if necessary and see if that improves your sleep. I know, it’s definitely one of the more drastic and undesirable solutions, but sometimes it’s the only way to get a good night’s rest.
- Spoil yourself with a warm bath before bedtime. Don’t take a shower, that’s too energizing. When you take a warm bath, it causes your body to cool down quicker when you get out, hastening the ideal body temperature for sound sleep. You can also incorporate some aromatherapy, add some salts, baking soda or special oils to the water for an even more luxurious bathing experience that will benefit your skin as well. Add a tablespoon of dry mustard powder to your bath to open your pores and remove built up toxins.
- Try a footbath before bedtime. If you don’t want to go to all the trouble of preparing a complete body bath, you can just soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes or so for desired relaxing effects.
- Schedule a full body massage. Decrease stress, increase circulation, release endorphins and gain many other benefits that will help you sleep well.
- Get a relaxing foot massage from your partner or spouse or do it yourself if nobody else is around. Everybody loves a foot massage! A good foot massage can boost blood circulation and prevent or remedy things like headaches and constipation. Barter or offer to take turns with your favorite person. Go here to for instructions: http://www.wikihow.com/Give-a-Foot-Massage
- Turn on a humidifier. Warm your room during the winter without drying out the air. The moist air soothes dry and itchy sinuses, throat and eyes, and skin.
- Have somebody read out loud to you when you’re in bed, ready go to sleep. The comfort of listening to a loved one’s soothing voice will make you feel like a little kid again.
- Lying on your back in bed, loosen up all the muscles throughout your body. Tense and release each muscle as you visualize the various parts of your body relaxing. Start with your toes and working for way up to your head.
- Sleep on your back or on your sides. Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your internal organs and weighs on your lungs, making it difficult to breathe properly.
- Practice deep breathing exercises as you lie in bed. Breathe from your diaphragm. Count to 4 while you breathe in through your nose, hold, then slowly exhale through your mouth for 4. You can add to this routine by silently saying a word like rest, peace or sleep on the exhale as a mantra. Read: Meditation to Help Cure Insomnia.
- No TV, computer, cell phone, iPad, Kindle, etc. just before bed. Backlit devices mimic the effect of sunshine, making your brain become awake and alert.
- If you can’t get to sleep (or back to sleep) after being awake for 30 minutes get up. Go into another room to read or to do some relaxing stretches and deep breathing or go make a cup of herbal tea. Whatever you do, don’t stress about being awake – try to chill.
- Try using a cognitive behavioral therapy system like SleepTracks. This is an excellent and completely natural way to achieve deep and restful sleep. When many other sleep techniques and strategies failed to work for me, SleepTracks’ series of therapeutic mp3s and video presentations thankfully taught me how to go to sleep and put an end to my chronic insomnia! Click here to find out more about SleepTracks.
Other insomnia related articles:
Types of Insomnia
Top Causes of Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods That Cause Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods to Help You Sleep
Allergies and Insomnia
Should you use Antihistamines for Insomnia?
Aromatherapy for Insomnia – It makes Scents
Acupressure for Insomnia – Getting to the point
The Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Insomnia
Meditation to Help Cure Insomnia
Menopause and Insomnia
Hypnosis for Insomnia
Children and Insomnia
Alcohol and Insomnia
Twelve Tips to Prevent the Effects of Jet Lag
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