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Slip into a Steady Slumber

Tips for Curing Insomnia


Sleep is something that your body craves, but also something that everybody struggles with periodically. You’ve tried to cure it the right way. You stopped drinking caffeine late in the day; you didn’t eat a heavy meal right before bed; you made sure that the lights were off; you’ve tried to keep a definite bedtime schedule consistently. And yet, as you lie in bed sleepless and frustrated, none of this really seems to matter. When insomnia hits, you could spend hours stressing, or try a few new things to ease you into a peaceful slumber.

Difficulty falling (and staying) asleep is a common problem. As an important source of energy for the body, sleep is a valuable commodity. If you have been lying in bed for a while and can’t sleep, get up. Don’t just stay in bed and worry about not having enough energy to get all you need to get done the following day. Do something tonight to encourage the Sandman to appear a little sooner:

Go for a soak
Go relax in the bathtub. This soothes both body and mind. Try adding some sleep-inducing scents, like lavender oil, into the tub. You can also put a few drops of these oils onto your pillow to pacify you in bed as well. Don’t make the mistake of taking a shower. This can actually awaken your body. Opt for a warm bath instead. Couple this with some candles and calm music and you’ll be set.

Drink it up
Have a glass of warm milk. You thought this was just an old wives’ tale, but it actually works! Heating up milk really does have a tranquilizing effect on the body that can calm you down and prepare you for sleep. In fact, the same amino acid that gives turkey its reputation for causing drowsiness is also found in milk, and it causes more serotonin to be released in the body. Can’t stand the idea of warm milk? Add a drop or two of vanilla extract. Still not sounding tempting? Try some chamomile tea. A number of people think that having an alcoholic drink right before bed does the trick. Although this might initially make you sleepy, it doesn’t prep you for sound sleep, and chances are, you’ll toss and turn during the night.

Find an activity
Do something relaxing out of the bed. Try some light reading—although an action thriller probably wouldn’t be the best choice for these purposes. Watch something a little boring on television at low volume (think the Learning or Home Shopping Channels). Don’t watch anything that will wind you back up. Looking for other ideas? Sew, scrapbook, or write a letter. This activity should be easy, nothing that will key your nervous system back up. Once your eyes get droopy again, hit the sack.

The worst thing you can do is sit in bed and think about everything you didn’t get done today, and all of the work you’ll have the next day. Worrying about it won’t get any of it done, so let it leave your mind. If it helps, make a to-do list so that you don’t forget anything the next day. But leave it at that; once it is on the paper, forget about it. Another trick for troubled sleeping is to turn the clocks away from your bed so that you can’t count the passing minutes. If you focus on the fact that you are not sleeping, you’ll make your problem worse.

Add some noise
Wait a second, isn’t it true that your bedroom should be as quiet as possible? Well, up to a point, yes. The darker and quieter the room is, the more deeply you’ll sleep, even if you don’t realize it. But, adding "white noise" into the background of your bedroom can actually help you slumber. These steady, quiet sounds will block out other more disturbing noises that might keep you awake. Plus, once you are asleep, you’ll be less likely to wake up from other noises. Try keeping a fan blowing at night—a cool bedroom is more conducive to sleep anyway. Or, try playing relaxing music or natural sounds, especially something that can be set on a timer. You can buy CD’s that play gentle rain, waterfalls, or wind noises—there are plenty of choices.

Listen to your body
One reason you might have trouble sleeping is that your body is tense. Try a relaxation video or CD that guides you through loosening up and relaxing each muscle group. Start at your feet, contracting and relaxing your muscles, and move all of the way up your body. This is a quick technique to unwind. Plus, deep-breathing exercises, which mimic your respiration pattern while sleeping, can help convince your body that it is time to drift off.

In the future…
Exercise! Consistent fitness and good nutrition are directly linked to improved sleep. Of course, if you are lying in bed restless, it might be a little late. But, start tomorrow and you’ll sleep better in nights to come. If (and when!) you do exercise, make sure it’s not right before bedtime, which can interfere with your body’s ability to relax and nod off.

Make going to bed a routine. Begin your routine around the same time every night, even on weekends. This could include any of the techniques listed above. It could simply mean changing into your pajamas and brushing your teeth. Do something consistently that your body will learn as signals to settle down for the night, and you’ll wake up refreshed the next day.

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Member Comments

  • Currently having problems sleeping due to knee pain. Hope to get relief tomorrow with a nerve block! Got 8 hours last night (off and on so grateful for that)
  • I diffused Lavender Essential Oil before bed. However, if I don't have time (some days are really rushed, hm?) I simply add one drop of lavender E.O. to my right wrist and then rub my left and right wrists together--that way I am smelling it when I start to go to sleep because its right next to my nose. Success! While Lavender almost always works, I sometimes alternate with peace and calming oil.
    I am thankful to be able to fall asleep and stay that way.
  • Sleep has been my #1 enemy my whole life, I have tried all the tips and tricks ever written and so far nothing has worked but I keep trying!
  • I can usually fall asleep quickly and I always aim for 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes I just wake up "bright eyed and bushy tailed" after just 7 hours and can't get that last hour of sleep.
  • I don't have trouble with sleeping and I realize I am lucky.
  • Sticking to a bedtime routine works best for me. If I just jump into bed because I'm too tired, I actually don't sleep well.
  • I typically am a very sound sleeper , unless I drink mountain dew which is rarely anymore. I love Epps and salts bathes with lavender oil, I eat supper very early ,and go to bed early. Today was my first day back to work after being off for 9 days. My body will rest well tonight. Sweet dreams everyone !!
  • I love that word refreshed. Aaahh...
  • Sleep is something that escapes me so often. I do think about things I did not do and I am trying to exhaust myself so that I fall into bed. I have discovered Dr. Teals relax and sleep formula to soak in before going to bed. This helps a little.
  • I have had insomnia for a long time plus sleep apnea now. And my doctor does not want me on sleeping pills because of it but nothing else seems to work. I have tried melatonin and other herbal medicines even over the counter and it does not seem to work.
    Using a fan for white noise is like a lullaby and helps me to sleep fast.and peacefully. Sweet dreams!
    I generally get a good night's sleep, but on the rare occasion that I have trouble nodding off, I get up and go into my library to read a home repair manual. My trouble is STAYING asleep. I actually wake up whenever I turn over. As in, open in my eyes, sit up and reposition my body. I go right back to sleep but it's still puzzling.
  • I get in bed and work in a Sudoku book no matter how sleepy I am. I tend to spend too long at night on computer or watching TV. When I go to bed my mind goes in a loop and replays every thing I need to do and every worry I could have. I used to read, but found myself in a good book at 4 a.m.! Not good. I get the Will Shortz Sudoku books that are easy to medium. I want to think, but I don't want to become frustrated. These cause me to totally focus on the puzzle, and soon I'm drifting.
  • I have struggled with sleep issues for years.
    Coasted along, from my 20's to my 50's, on 4 to 5 hours sleep being my norm, and thinking that was a good nights sleep.
    Health issues have made me aware I NEED TO GET MORE SLEEP !
    So this is a priority to me now!

About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

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