Insomniac's Tips for Better Sleep
Below is a collection of other sleep improvement tips and suggestions to help your to deal with insomnia.
Some of them are specific; others are more general. Some are easy to implement and have a quick, noticeable effect; while others can be harder to implement and/or their effect can only be seen over time. Read them through and implement as many as you can. See which ones work for you.
Remember, what works for some people may have the opposite effect for others.
- No matter what originally caused your poor sleep, most people develop poor habits over the years struggling with insomnia. The worst habits are:
- Trying too hard to sleep. The harder you try, the less you are able to fall in sleep.
- Being conditioned against your own bedroom.
- Reduce your daily intake of caffeine, and completely avoid it in the late afternoon and evening. That includes not only coffee, but also other caffeinated beverages. (Consider a "Caffeine Boycott").
- Establish and follow a soothing pre-bed routine each night to help you to relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
- Setting up the alarm to wake you up at an earlier time (6-7am) may help in setting the natural balance of waking and bedtime.
- Some people lie in bed on weekends for hours after they have finished sleeping. This is not recommended for people with insomnia because it disturbs sleep-awake rhythm.
- Lunch is the most important meal, and it should be the heaviest meal of the day.
- Dinner should be relatively light, between 5:30PM and 7:00PM. Do not go to bed hungry or stuffed with food. Having a heavy or late dinner increases metabolic activity at the time when it needs to be minimal. Avoid late night snacks.
- Don't get wound up in the late evening. Avoid exciting and focused activities before bedtime.
- Avoid watching TV at least an hour before sleep time. Although watching TV may seem relaxing, it is inherently exciting to the nervous system, and it (over) stimulates the body's sight and hearing systems. Try substituting it with some relaxing activities.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
- Never try to put yourself into sleep. That will guarantee that you stay awake. Just let your body rest with eyes closed.
- Don't look at your bedroom clock. Hide it from your sight. Obsessing over time makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Lying in bed and not being able to fall asleep can be frustrating. If you're still awake after 40 minutes, try these two opposite approaches, and see which one works for you:
- Get up, go to another room, and sit quietly for about 20 minutes before going back to bed. Do this as many times as you need to, until you can fall asleep.
- Do not get up, lay down even if you can't fall in sleep. This way, your body gets at least some rest even if you are not asleep. Getting up can make some people feel more awake.
- As you fall asleep, follow your sensations (rather than focusing on the line of thought you have setup).
- Do not stay in bed longer that you need to sleep.
- Be fully awake when you are awake. Have an active and fulfilling day life. Being a couch potato can produce insomnia at night.
- Sipping hot water throughout the day helps removing toxins from the body, and it has soothing and balancing effect.
- Adopt a moderate exercise program. Physical exercise has a direct, beneficial effect on several factors that affect sleep. The key is moderate exercise. Over-exercising could be just as harmful. You should feel energetic during and after the exercise, not exhausted. If you feel exhausted, it means there is something wrong with your exercise program. Exercise regularly, but not within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Taking warm bath - there two opposite theories. Try them both, and see which one works for you:
- Take warm bath about 1.5 hours before bedtime. Your body temperature will drop, which induces sleep.
- Don't take a bath just before bed, because it will temporarily increase blood flow and make you more alert.
- Don't nap during the day if naps seem to make your insomnia worse.
- Excessive alcohol use can cause sleep problems, especially when taken too close to bedtime. Alcohol can make it easier to fall asleep, but it causes more frequent nighttime awakenings. Your body attempts to counteract the effects of alcohol by "sobering" you (i.e. making you more awake), even after the effect of alcohol has faded.
- Try drinking a glass of warm milk before bedtime. Milk helps to prevent hunger from disturbing your sleep; it also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is converted in the brain into a "relaxing" chemical known as serotonin.
- Don't worry too much about a sleepless night that you had. Take it with stride. You can function quite adequately the next day.
Sleep Improvement Program
There is another 6-step sleep improvement program that I have come across. (It is similar to some techniques that were mentioned earlier). This program mostly applies to people who have difficulties falling asleep. Try it, and see if it works for you:
- For at least 2 weeks, even on the weekends, get up earlier, 30-60 minutes earlier then your usual time. This will move your sleep-wake earlier.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Otherwise, read or do something similar.
- Don't eat listen to radio or watch TV in bed. The bedroom should be associated with sleep (and intimacy) only.
- If you are not asleep in 30 minutes, get up and do something boring, until you feel sleepy.
- No snoozes or naps during the day.
- Sort out your worries during the day. Don't think about them in bed.