Can’t Sleep? 15 Proven Tips for Insomnia
Marsha had been suffering from insomnia for a long time. She’s tried just about everything that folk wisdom and her beloved Grandmother taught her – counting sheep, warm milk before bed, reading, rubbing her feet and rubbing her head. She’s spent a fortune on relaxation tapes, mood music, as well as a computer self-hypnosis program that just seems to wake her up and make her dizzy more than put her to sleep. All too many nights, she lays in bed, listening to her partner snore, while she tosses, turns, gets up and reads Internet self-help articles about what to do!
The science of psychology has a lot to say about what works and doesn’t work for people like Marsha. Those who struggle with insomnia and other sleep problems often benefit from a range of solutions, rather than a single cure. Here are some facts for you to consider while you think about your own sleep disturbances.
I. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of conditions including: change, stress, physical pain, trauma, illness, and emotions, PTSD, death of a loved one, or recurrent thoughts.
II. Insomnia can come on at any stage in life. Old sleep habits might need to be changed or altered to be successful at overcoming insomnia. Returning to more natural rhythms and habits can take time. Be patient. If you’ve had a lifelong problem with sleep, you unfortunately may not find an overnight cure. There is no immediate solution unless you want to take medicine, which can often lead to a wide range of other serious problems. The goal of this article is to help you make sensible decisions regarding the role of sleep in your life, and return to more natural, reasonable ways of approaching and thinking about sleep.
III. 15 Tips to Overcome Insomnia
1. RETINAL STIMULATION – make it a point to go outside and stimulate your retinas (eyes) for about 15 minutes a day with sunlight. This “full on” light exposure can help restore your body’s natural sleep/night cycle, also known as the “circadian rhythm.” Looking straight into the sun is never a good idea, but being in an area where you receive the full brightness of the sun around you is what’s recommended.
2. NO NAPS Avoid naps during the day. If you sleep during the day, your body may not be as tired as necessary to get to sleep at night.
3. COOL ROOM – Keep the temperature in your room cool and comfortable.
4. WAKING ACTIVITIES Don t participate in waking activities while in bed, like watching TV, eating, talking on the telephone, texting your friends, or using your laptop. Remember, bed has traditionally been for sleep. Train yourself to limit your bed-related activities, and your body will begin to associate your bed with sleepiness. Reading in bed is different. Reading can help you focus your mind, especially if what you read is boring. Save the murder mysteries for daytime and pick up a boring book for sleep. Reading in bed is an age-old trick for quickly getting to sleep.
5. GO TO BED AT REGULAR TIME There’s no easy answer to the problem of being too tired during day-time and not tired enough at bed-time. Nonetheless, most experts agree that it is most helpful for you to go to bed at a regular, planned time. If you need to sleep more, it’s better for you to go to bed at your regular time and get up earlier. With time, your body should re-adjust and give you the hours you need. Be careful about driving or operating machinery when not fully rested, though. If you feel tired to the point of losing visual focus, you should definitely not be operating heavy machinery – no matter what. When not sleeping well for a period of time, ask someone else to drive you to work, if you can.
6. DON T EXERCISE (
7. DON T EAT STIMULATING FOODS (
8. AVOID STIMULANTS (
9. AVOID LIQUIDS. (
10. WIND DOWN (
11. WRITE DOWN CONCERNS (
12. CALMING MUSIC/SELF-HYPNOSIS – Listen to calming music, white noise, self-hypnosis or a “brain recalibration” tape for sleep. Such tapes are scientifically designed to help you “reset” your brain and calm down. When developed by researchers rather than marketers, they are remarkably effective. Just be sure to buy your brain recalibration audios from reputable sleep companies, and not slick marketing companies.
13. GET UP IF YOU CAN”T SLEEP If you can t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes get out of bed.
14. AVOID BRIGHT LIGHTS if you wake up in the middle of the night and can t get back to sleep within 30 minutes, get up but avoid as much light as possible. Light will only stimulate your brain s day/night balance (circadian cycle). Avoid computer-based hypnosis programs just prior to going to bed for the same reason. The light emitted from a computer screen is intense. Any strong light is more likely to stimulate and wake your nervous system.
15. REDIRECT NIGHTMARES/BAD THOUGHTS If you have a nightmare or stress-inducing thoughts, focus on a different ending. Write down your nightmare, or tell someone else about it to stop the continual thoughts.
The goal of this article was to help you find the right self-diagnosis for your specific underlying problem.
If you are doing all 15 suggestions above and still have sleep problems, it’s time to call a professional. Contact a physician or psychotherapist who specializes in sleep.
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Dr. Marlene M. Maheu is the Editor-in-Chief of SelfHelpMagazine, an award winning online electronic-zine. Visit http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/and read more articles from Dr. Marlene and other professionals on how to reduce stress.