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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Rest & Relaxation

Slip into a Steady Slumber

Tips for Curing Insomnia

-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer
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De-stress
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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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