What Should I Do If I Have Insomnia?

If insomnia is caused by a short-term change in the sleep/wake schedule, as with jet lag, an individual’s sleep schedule may return to normal on its own. Consider a daily routine to include the following:

  1. Follow a regular schedule–go to sleep and get up at the same time each day
  2. Avoid taking cat-naps during the day
  3. Exercise at regular times each day. Moderate physical activity 2 to 4 hours before bedtime may improve your sleep
  4. Adjust your internal sleep clock, by getting some exposure to the natural light in the afternoon
  5. Eat smart, avoid heavy dinners, and do not eat too close to bedtime
  6. Refrain from stimulants: drinking alcohol, smoking, and drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day
  7. Do something pleasurable before bedtime to help you unwind and get your mind off the day’s responsibilities and nagging concerns
  8. Take a relaxing shower or bath before bedtime and, if you like to use fragrances, consider using lavender scented body soaps, lotions or oils for its naturally calming effect
  9. Go to bed when you’re actually tired. Do not try to force yourself to sleep, instead get up and “do something boring” then head back to bed.
  10. Be especially thoughtful about what end-of-the-night TV shows you watch and your bedtime reading selections. Avoid content that focuses on issues that are disturbing or that dwell on a topic that’s currently causing you to feel concerned, worried, threatened, or afraid.
  11. Listen to music you especially enjoy at bedtime. Play it at a low volume and make sure to select music with especially soothing rhythms and calming lyrics. Consider purchasing an acoustic “nature sounds relaxation machine. Settings for such sounds as “Spring rain,” “mountain stream,” “ocean waves,” and “summer night” can help relieve end-of-the-day stress and act as a natural sleep aid.
  12. Create a safe, comfortable and sleep-conducive sleeping environment that is dark, and preferably cool.

If, despite your efforts to “set the stage” for a good night’s sleep, your problem persists, seeking professional help may provide you with the relief you’re looking for. You have more to gain than restful sleep and a more peaceful emotional state. Virtually everything you can do to improve your sleep also benefits your health by significantly reducing your risk of depression, anxiety disorders, heart attack, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and similar ailments and diseases.