Tonight a friend asked me what he should do about his insomnia. I’ve had a good bit of experience with it, so I was able to rattle off several suggestions and kept adding to it. On the way home, I thought, man, I need to write this down so I can remember it for myself and to help the next person.
I have learned that the first mistake is continuing to lie in bed when I cannot fall asleep. Here is my list of things you should do:
- If you can’t fall asleep after 15-30 minutes, get back up and do something quiet in another room.
- Before it gets to that point, try concentrating on breathing in and out. Repeating a mantra can help. Mine is simply “breathe in, breathe out.”
- Don’t drink caffeine after 2 p.m. (4 p.m. at the very latest). Avoid energy drinks. Don’t drink Gatorade, Power Ade, or carrot juice (I like V-8 Splash but it keeps me awake) prior to bed.
- Avoid spicy foods before bed.
- Watch your sugar intake.
- Consult a physician to determine if there could be another underlying health issue contributing to the insomnia like acid reflux or sleep apnea (I have both).
- The only 2 things you should do in the bedroom are sleep and have sex. Yes, the TV has to go!!!
- Turn off the TV, computer, phones, etc. about an hour before bedtime so your eyes will not be overwhelmed by their light and prevent you from settling down.
- If you must have outside stimulus, watching television is better than listening to the radio because it leaves less to the imagination.
- Sleep in a dark room. Wear a mask if it helps.
- Keep the temperature between 65-72 degrees during sleep. If it is too cold or too hot, it could cause you to wake up. Wear socks to maintain your body temperature.
- Get at least 30-60 minutes of natural light a day and ask your doctor to do a blood test to see if you’re vitamin D deficient. If so, take a supplement.
- Consider trying Magnesium after you consult your physician. I use it in tablet form. Take it prior to bed to slow your brain down and help your body relax and prepare for sleep.
- Turn your clock away from you so you don’t keep checking the time.
- Take a warm bath.
- Drink warm milk or a small snack of turkey or some other sleep inducing food prior to bedtime.
- Have white noise in the background while you sleep. Invest in a sound machine, or download an app and play it while you sleep.
- While lying in bed, relax your body by tensing and releasing your muscles starting with your toes and working your way up.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
- Don’t take naps. If you must, limit it to a 25 minute power nap.
- If your partner or pets bother you, move to another room or wear ear plugs. You might need to make your pet get off the bed if they sleep with you.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a walk.
- If your mind is racing, tell it to “stop” so you can re-center yourself.
- Don’t balance your checkbook, pay bills, or do anything with finances prior to bed.
- Before you lie down, write 5 things that you’re grateful for, make a to-do list for tomorrow, or if you’re depressed write something to look forward to as a reason to get up the next morning.
This is just my list (I am not a doctor). You may hear different numbers of minutes or degrees which all can be subjective and are open to interpretation, but hopefully this will give you some ideas and tools to help you find relief. I hope it helps.