Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Rest & Relaxation

Slip into a Steady Slumber

Tips for Curing Insomnia

-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

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.
Continued ›

Page 1 of 2   Next Page › Return to main wellness page »
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Related Content


Stay in Touch With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

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

Member Comments

  • I enjoyed the idea of writing a letter before you go to bed. It sounds so quaint and romantic! - 1/7/2014 5:27:59 AM
  • I would add one other longer-term item to help with sleep: make sure the mattress is in good shape. Especially when we've been carrying excess weight, what started as supportive and comfortable can become worn down and be all sorts of awkward to sleep on. Not to mention the difference in what is comfortable once we have less of the padding on our body. (I know this last one ... an extra firm mattress can end up feeling TOO firm.) - 11/12/2012 12:36:09 PM
  • DIANNEGLADING
    I've had insomnia since my 2nd son was born 28 years ago and have gone to a sleep center and they didn't have any answers. I've tried meditation and breathing excercises and they help me fall asleep but doesn't keep me asleep, I still wake up 2 hrs. later. I don't drink caffeine and I don't eat or drink after 7:00 pm. I always wake up like something is wrong and can't get back to sleep. - 7/18/2012 6:36:09 AM
  • Some good ideas but some just don't work for me. Lack of sleep has been common after hitting menopause. No HRT for me so that doesn't. Increased exercise has helped me some and a little melatonin. I do some light reading before I turn off the light. It takes my mind off of the day's concerns and helps me sleep better - 10/29/2011 10:24:06 PM
  • I have had insomnia all my life. It has been a tough thing to deal with. But when I increased my daily activities, I rarely have it any more. - 7/30/2011 9:36:55 AM
  • When I was young I multiplied 2x2x2x2... until I fell asleep. Only works for someone who loves numbers.
    Now that I'm a grandmother, I thank God for each blessing, his or her parents, a house they like to visit, things I do with them, etc. Anything that generates pleasant feelings works very well for relaxation.

    One time, I read, 'Try forcing your eyes to stay open.' Think about trying to watch a movie in the dark. You want to watch but your eyes keep closing. It's supposed to trick your mind into falling asleep. Too 'boring' for me. - 6/21/2011 12:10:35 AM
  • This article has some good ideas. I also count sometimes to help me fall asleep at times. I count from one to 100 sometimes eight or nine times. It does work most times. I find that not being able to fall asleep and stay sleeping is so stressful but I am going to try some of these ideas, who knows they may help! Thanks!! - 3/10/2011 5:12:21 PM
  • I have always had a hard time winding down and getting a good nights sleep. I have finally mastered the skill and everything I do is in this article! Your body loves routine and the more you do these things the quicker and better you will sleep. Take it from someone who knows! - 3/10/2011 2:47:20 PM
  • LLXX411 - that is a really fab attitude, I had never thought of looking at a broken night's sleep like that. Most impressed! Going to start changing my thoughts about it from tonight onwards! - 3/10/2011 1:44:30 PM
  • Hey June. Two thoughts--one, it's time for you to get a prescription for an overactive bladder. It's totally common and you could talk to your doctor about seeing if you can limit it's use to nighttime only.

    Secondly, I have two kids under 4 and my sleep is interrupted frequently and has been through the first pregnancy. Yes--much of that was peeing! So--for four years, I've had very different sleep than most folks. I have found something that really works for me--NEVER BEING ANGRY ABOUT IT.

    Example thoughts:
    1) Yay! It's not time to work yet--I get to have the joy now of falling asleep again in a bed that's already warmed up! My body is already fully relaxed too from already sleeping.
    2) Wow--my body is awesome! My liver cleaned out this fluid and while I let it go, I'm going to think of all the negative things in my life I choose to let go of too.
    3) Woh! I'm so glad I have a safe warm place to relax and sleep when so many in the world do not.
    4) Tomorrow, when I wake, I'll get to remember this wonderful night where I kept getting to go back to bed!
    5) Yay, I get to take a quiet moment to see my kids (pet? spounse? street?) sleeping--when they look most angelic.


    Good luck June! Don't let anything keep you down girl! - 3/10/2011 1:38:31 PM
  • This article is good, however what can I do to stop the "distubed sleep". I am constantly getting up several times in the night to go P.When I return to bed it takes me awhile to snooze back to sleep. With only drinking about 4 cups of water a day - it seems my bladder is too full to handle the recommended 8 cups per day. I have eliminated drinking tea after dinner. Any one got any suggestions JT - 3/10/2011 11:12:04 AM
  • TERIKMANNING
    Meditative music helps me fall asleep. Thanks for the article - 3/10/2011 10:32:51 AM
  • NANA717
    I loved this article and have really enjoyed all the tips from you guys. Thanks! - 3/10/2011 10:30:41 AM
  • I like it, it is encouraging . - 3/10/2011 7:04:37 AM
  • Meditation works really well for me. It calms the racing thoughts and helps me to relax. I usually fall asleep within 10mins of it playing (goes for about 20mins). Its the waking up at 2am the following morning thats the kicker - 3/10/2011 5:52:30 AM