What’s keeping you up at night? Insomnia is a broad term that can refer to several different sleep disorders with many different causes.
The symptoms can include struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep. You may also feel tired and irritable throughout the day and have trouble thinking clearly.
It’s important to understand the reason behind your insomnia, so you can figure out what to do about it. It may be tied to your lifestyle or to underlying health conditions. In some cases, insomnia may linger after other medical issues have been resolved, unless you change your habits too.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, but it can often be overcome with simple remedies. Try these strategies to help you enjoy more restful sleep.
Lifestyle Changes for Dealing with Insomnia
Your sleep habits and other daily activities could be undermining the quantity and quality of your sleep. Small changes could make a big difference.
Try these tips:
- Learn to relax. Daily stress and disturbing thoughts can interfere with sleep. Find relaxation practices that work for you, such as listening to music or practicing deep breathing exercises.
- Block out noise. Play a recording of pink noise or rainfall to drown out traffic noises or lively neighbors. Hanging blackout curtains may help too if you need to darken your bedroom at night.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. Take days off from drinking liquor and finish your last cup of coffee before 2 pm. Check labels for caffeine in other products like chocolate and carbonated beverages.
- Eat light. It’s more difficult to fall asleep when your body is digesting a heavy meal. Eat dinner earlier and avoid late night snacks.
- Exercise regularly. Design a workout program and stick to it. A survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that adults who are physically active are one third less likely to report sleep problems and half as likely to report daytime tiredness.
- Create bedtime rituals. Prepare yourself to fall asleep faster. Take a warm bath, read a book, or engage in quiet hobbies.
Medical Treatments and Alternative Therapies for Dealing with Insomnia
About 30% of adults experience insomnia occasionally, while another 10% have chronic conditions that can last for several months or more, according to the American Sleep Association. If insomnia is disrupting your life, your doctor may be able to help.
These strategies can help:
- Get examined. A physical examination can help you receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Use a sleep journal to track your symptoms and write down questions you want to share with your doctor.
- Go for counseling. Depression and anxiety can contribute to insomnia. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for cognitive behavioral therapy, which can sometimes produce dramatic results in a short time.
- Consider medications. Talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter sleep products. Proper supervision can help you minimize side effects and avoid taking any drug for longer than recommended.
- Relieve pain. Physical discomfort makes it difficult to sleep, and lack of sleep can make you more sensitive to pain. Ask your doctor if physical therapy might help with your symptoms.
- Use herbs. Research shows mixed results, but many adults swear by chamomile tea or valerian root supplements. Let your doctor know about any herbal remedies you want to try, so they can advise you on their safety and coordinate your treatment.
Give your mind and body the sleep you need to stay happy and healthy. Many cases of insomnia can be corrected with home remedies that require little time or expense, and your doctor can advise you if you need further assistance.