How to Overcome Insomnia

While many people have no trouble falling asleep at all, for others it’s a challenge. Some lay awake throughout the night, barely functioning the next day.

The inability to fall asleep is a disorder known as insomnia. According to a report of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), about 30% of the population struggles with insomnia to some degree. One out of ten adults suffers from insomnia to the point of the disorder hindering their daytime routine.

Insomnia affects both young and old. While teens and college students may repeatedly deal with it, so do elderly people. Frequent travelers, as well as shift workers are also at high risk. Pregnant, as well as menopausal women, often experience insomnia.

Tips for Falling Asleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep? If so, try these tips.

Exercise – Many people with sleep disorders are too sedentary during the day. They may have jobs sitting at computers or be retired, watching too much television. If you’re not used to exercising, start out slowly. Only 15 minutes a day could make a difference in getting to sleep. Try to get in at least a few minutes of your workout (even if it’s stretching your legs) about 30 minutes before bedtime, as this allows your body a chance to slow down.
Drink warm milk or herbal tea- Just before bedtime, drink a glass of warm milk. The calcium in milk is good for soothing frazzled nerves, helping you relax. Herbal tea also helps, if you don’t like milk. Just be sure it’s herbal tea and not black tea which contains caffeine. Enjoy a bedtime snack – Select a small low protein (and high carbohydrate) snack about an hour before bedtime. Choose foods such as eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, and cashews (which contain L-trypothan, an amino acid conducive to sleep.)
Establish a regular bedtime – Your body likes consistency, so go to bed at the same time. Also, make sure to have meals at regular times. Hopefully, your body will kick in with the routine and make a difference in overcoming insomnia. When choosing a regular bedtime, select a time that’s reasonable. Create a comfortable sleep environment – Get everything out of the bedroom that doesn’t belong there. Too often people have insomnia because they go to sleep next to their laptops, cell phones, and pagers. Remove your alarm clock out of sight so you can’t stare at the time, thinking, “I’m still not asleep!” This will only add to your sleep anxiety. Make sure your mattress is firm and comfortable.

What to AvoidCaffeine, alcohol and tobacco – Besides coffee, other drinks (such as soda, chocolate drinks, and black tea) also contain caffeine. If you think a glass of wine makes you drowsy, realize that it can present sleep problems, preventing you from getting an uninterrupted sleep.

Long and/or frequent naps – If you nap frequently throughout the day, chances are you’ll have trouble getting to sleep at night. However, it’s fine to take a short catnap.

Excessive TV viewing – Watching too much TV can add to insomnia. Instead, read before retiring.

If you follow these tips, but still struggle with insomnia, then see a doctor. Don’t let insomnia continue, as it not only robs you of sleep, it also can turn into a serious medical problem.

Most of all, avoid taking sleeping pills, as they’re highly addictive. Once you are hooked on them, it’s next to impossible to wean yourself off.

Originally published on Suite 101.

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