4. Twelve Ways to Sleep through Insomnia

Do you ever find yourself wide awake long after you go to bed at night? Well, you’re not alone. Millions of people in America are bothered by insomnia. They either have trouble falling asleep at night, wake up in the middle of the night, or wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep. And when they’re not asleep, insomniacs worry about whether or not they’ll be able to sleep.

An occasional sleepless night is, well, nothing to lose sleep over. But if insomnia bothers you for three weeks or longer, it can be a real medical problem.

Many old-fashioned remedies for sleeplessness work well. Next time you find yourself unable to sleep, try these time-tested cures.

  1. Avoid caffeine in all forms after lunchtime. (Coffee, tea, chocolate, colas, and some other soft drinks contain this stimulant, as do certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs; check the labels for content.) Also, avoid nicotine. Don’t smoke. Stay away from secondhand smoke.

  2. Plan to wake up and go to bed about the same time every day, even on days off and on weekends.

  3. As soon as you wake up, get exposure to bright light. Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight every day, especially in the afternoon.

  4. Avoid taking naps during the day. If you do nap, do so for less than one hour and before 3:00 p.m.

  5. Avoid eating large meals within two hours of going to bed.

  6. An hour or two before going to bed, dim the lights in the house.

  7. Take a warm bath before bedtime.

  8. Read a book or do a repetitive, calm activity. Try not to watch television, use the computer, or read the newspaper within 30 minutes of going to bed.

  9. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature (neither too warm nor too cool).

  10. Ban worry from the bedroom. Don’t rehash the day’s events or worry about ones for tomorrow. Associate your bed with sleep and sexual activity.

  11. Follow a regular bedtime routine. For example, lock or check doors and windows, brush your teeth, and read before you get in your bed every night.

  12. Count sheep! Counting slowly is a soothing, hypnotic activity.

If after three weeks you still have trouble sleeping despite your efforts, see a doctor to rule out any medical or emotional problems that may be at fault.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems