Last I checked, over 60 million people, in America alone, suffer from insomnia. Worldwide numbers are significantly higher. When I worked in the Emergency Room when I was younger, I suffered from it as well. It took me a few weeks to put a name on it and I just thought I was having a hard time getting to sleep. No biggie, right? Happens to everyone, I thought. I overcame my insomnia with these 9 methods, hopefully they will help anyone reading this as well.
9 Effective Methods to Finally Kick Insomnia to the Curb
- Glass of Warm Milk Before Bed
- Regular Sleep Times
- Keep Eating at Night to a Minimum
- Nature Sounds or Light and Soft Music
- Comfortable Sleeping Place
- Silence the Random Noises
- Stop Trying to Force it
- Medical Assistance
What is Insomnia?
The easiest definition of insomnia is being unable to fall asleep, or stay asleep. People with insomnia can have several symptoms, such as the inability to fall asleep or if you did fall asleep, stay asleep.
As we get older, Insomnia tends to worsen over the years. Some people claim that as we age we need less sleep, but this is not the case. Some adults and older adults just simply cannot get a great nights sleep. Some have fallen into bad habits and do not know it, others truly suffer from insomnia.
Identifying insomnia early is one of the best ways to kick it to the curb before it hinders your daily life. People suffering from insomnia can have signs of stress, anxiety or bipolar disorder, or maybe all three! Caffeine, herbs, medications also contribute to why some people cannot get some sleep. Those who have an overactive mind, and a tendency to become “hyper,” also might find insomnia a persistent problem.
After a while of not getting diagnosed, insomnia becomes your new sleep pattern. Take control of your insomnia before it takes control of you with these 9 easy steps.
Glass of Warm Milk
A glass of warm milk may sound really old and traditional for a reason, It Works! Mothers used to give this to kids when they couldn’t sleep, so when did this tradition stop?
Milk contains an amino acid called Tryptophan. Tryptophan helps to induce sleep and is also found in turkey and tuna as well. Ever felt sleepy after a Thanksgiving dinner? Cut back on the Turkey!
Many people around the world still make it a nightly ritual for a glass of warm milk before bed. This calming ritual helps them wind down before sleep.
This is because milk contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid which helps induce sleep. Turkey and tuna fish also contain tryptophan. Also many people find the ritual of drinking a warm glass of milk a calming ritual that helps them wind down to sleep.
Regular Sleep Times
Setting a regular time and ritual for sleeping at night helps your circadian rhythm stay in check. Your internal daily clock that usually wakes up around the same time, eat meals at same times and your bathroom times are mostly managed by the circadian rhythm. That is the easy easy simple explanation. Click the link to learn more about it.
Creating this ritual of going to bed at a certain time every night teaches your body to begin to get sleepy and prepare for sleep at the same time every day. For most people, this is fairly easy. Others that work in swing shifts, or retail, may not get that luxury of setting a regular bedtime.
For those of you that cannot set a regular “bed time” are gonna have to call this 8 methods, not 9. Sorry guys/gals.
Keep Eating at Night to a Minimum
If you are trying to fall asleep at 10 p.m., you may not want to stuff your face full of ice cream and Dorito’s at 9:30 p.m. Give your body time to wind down from digesting foods and cut your eating after 8 p.m. The small glass of water is fine, but try to keep it before 9ish.
Junk foods usually contain high sugar and carb content that can leave your body with a rush of energy for up to 3 hours after consumption. Keep your hands out of the cookie jar before bed! You want to be as relaxed as possible.
Nature Sounds or Light and Soft Music
Listening to soft music at night at low volumes can help you drift to sleep pretty well. Sometimes a completely quiet room leaves you with nothing to focus your attention on other than your own breathing sounds, heartbeat or neighbors dog. Something to drown those out can help you focus on something melodic and get to sleep faster than you might think.
You do not want to play “your jam” at this time, but something just loud enough to focus on. Nature sounds from an app on your phone or something like this Mini-Waterfall on Amazon can help with some natural sounds to fall asleep to. I personally enjoy a good thunderstorm so I have an app on my phone that will play the sounds of a thunderstorm for an hour. Its great!
Music is naturally soothing and can help you relax. Storms help me relax.
Comfortable Sleeping Place
Crashing on a futon or a sleeping bag may be good for every now and then, but as a regular sleeping place is not good for you. Not only can these create all sorts of problems to your physical well-being, but can also inhibit a good nights sleep. Being in something comfortable, like a bed, can help you drift to sleep through comfort.
Make sure that your bed is comfortable for you. If your bed is too hard or too soft, this might prevent you from falling asleep easily and have you tossing and turning looking for a comfortable position. If you are suffering from insomnia, you should invest on a good bed that you find comfortable. You are going to spend a 3rd of your life on this bed, so why not make the bed as comfortable as possible?
Try checking the local mattress stores and lay on a few of them to see if you like it softer or harder. I personally love to sleep on a pillow top. I like to feel like I am laying on a cloud.
Silence the Random Noises
Sometimes, insomnia is caused by your environment. Maybe you have dogs next door that never hush. If you are like me, you have a cat that wants to get into play mode when everyone goes to bed. I have no idea why, but I think cats are possessed by the devil.
While random noises from a city are difficult to drown out, noises like a leaky faucet or television can be fixed. Televisions are the worst, since the whole purpose of whatever you are watching is to keep you watching. This will not help you get some sleep. If you have insomnia, turn it off.
You don’t want a dead quiet house either. Most people with insomnia simply cannot sleep in dead silence. Use the music trick or find some type of meditation music to play softly in the background. This can help you drown out the noises you cannot fix, like the neighbors, and focus on something soft.
Stop Trying to Force It
Give in. Yes, sometimes you have to cave and just admit, you are not tired. Try a warm bath with some warm milk afterwards. Get up and read a book, play with the dogs, do some laundry, do anything except trying to force sleep.
Trying to force yourself to sleep when it is obvious you are not going to can be aggravating and frustrating. This only makes the problem worse. Lie down and if you are not asleep in 10 minutes, get up and burn off a little energy. Prep a lunch for tomorrow or take out the trash. Move around.
I know this method seems counter intuitive to the main goal, but laying in bed staring at the ceiling fan for 20 minutes is not helping you sleep. Check the other methods here and find something that works for you.
Yes! I know what you are going to say. There is no way this works, right? People SWEAR by the effectiveness of this technique to kick insomnia. You can find some of these testimonies with a quick Google search.
Of course, you do not want to do this to yourself, but go to a professional. There was a study in China back in 2009 that claims:
Acupuncture is commonly used in treating insomnia in China, and clinical studies have shown that acupuncture may have a beneficial effect on insomnia compared with Western medication.
Who would have thought that this ancient practice may have more benefits than modern medicine? I have not tried this method personally, but I am finding lots of resources on the internet that always lead back to acupuncture as a “cure” for insomnia.
Try this method at your own risk, I am not advocating this as a medical treatment, just parroting what I am researching.
If you have tried all of these methods and you are not getting the sleep you need, please talk to your doctor. If you do not have one, find one. You may have a medical condition that is preventing your body from getting the sleep it deserves. I am not a big supporter of having to pop a bunch of pills every day to be normal, but something may be going on under your skin and sleeplessness is just a symptom of it.
Medical conditions that can cause insomnia:
- Acid Reflux
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic Pain
A self diagnosis with sleeping pills may work in the early days, but please do so under the direct advice of a Doctor. This can lead to addiction and other issues that can prevent sleep again and put you back at square one with an addiction.
In your daily routine, a good nights sleep is an extremely important part of it. If you sleep for 8 hours a night, that is 30% of your day spent asleep. Taking care to ensure that you spend this time wisely should be one of your top 3 priorities in your daily life.
Your sleeping ritual should not just be an instinct, but something you prepare for. You do not have to get crazy like I do, but if you take care of yourself, you will have a much higher quality of life. This is the time your body uses to not only rest, but perform duties it cannot do while you are awake.
Sleeping recharges your body, processes your memories, heals any broken tissues and increases your white blood count to fight off any infections it finds. Did you know that people that sleep less are sick more often that people who don’t? Found that while researching this article!