Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

No matter what your age, insomnia usually is treatable. The key often lies in changes to your routine during the day and when you go to bed. These tips may help.

Basic tips:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including on weekends.
  • Stay active. Regular activity helps promote a good night's sleep. Schedule exercise at least a few hours before bedtime and avoid stimulating activities before bedtime.
  • Check your medications. If you take medications regularly, check with your doctor to see if they may be contributing to your insomnia. Also check the labels of OTC products to see if they contain caffeine or other stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine.
  • Avoid or limit naps. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can't get by without one, try to limit a nap to no more than 30 minutes and don't nap after 3 p.m.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol and don't use nicotine. All of these can make it harder to sleep, and effects can last for several hours.
  • Don't put up with pain. If a painful condition bothers you, talk to your doctor about options for pain relievers that are effective enough to control pain while you're sleeping.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bed. A light snack is fine and may help avoid heartburn. Drink less liquid before bedtime so that you won't have to urinate as often.

At bedtime:

  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep. Only use your bedroom for sex or sleep. Keep it dark and quiet, at a comfortable temperature. Hide all clocks in your bedroom, including your wristwatch and cellphone, so you don't worry about what time it is.
  • Find ways to relax. Try to put your worries and planning aside when you get into bed. A warm bath or a massage before bedtime can help prepare you for sleep. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a hot bath, reading, soft music, breathing exercises, yoga or prayer.
  • Avoid trying too hard to sleep. The harder you try, the more awake you'll become. Read in another room until you become very drowsy, then go to bed to sleep. Don't go to bed too early, before you're sleepy.
  • Get out of bed when you're not sleeping. Sleep as much as you need to feel rested, and then get out of bed. Don't stay in bed if you're not sleeping.

Prevention

Good sleep habits can help prevent insomnia and promote sound sleep:

  • Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including weekends.
  • Stay active — regular activity helps promote a good night's sleep.
  • Check your medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
  • Avoid or limit naps.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don't use nicotine.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep and only use it for sex or sleep.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.
Oct. 15, 2016
References
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