How to Conquer Insomnia

How to Conquer Insomnia

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

The right sleep habits can go a long way in helping you get the quality and quantity of sleep that you need to feel rested during the day. But if you’re still struggling with insomnia that interferes with your daily life—despite tweaking your bedtime routine and steering clear of sleep disruptors like caffeine, alcohol, and electronics—then it may be time to talk to a doctor. Insomnia is treatable, but everyone responds differently to different approaches. Ask your physician about some of these common methods.

Relaxation Exercises

You don’t need a doctor to try relaxation exercises, like progressive muscle relaxation. Systematically tensing and relaxing muscles in different parts of the body—gradually, from head to toe—may help you calm your body and prepare for sleep. You can also try breathing exercises, meditation, or guided imagery.

Set Strict Sleep Rules

Lying in bed awake can contribute to sleeplessness by creating an unhealthy association between your bedroom and being awake. Commit to getting out of bed whenever you’ve been awake for 20 minutes or more, then going to a different part of your home to “reset” with a different restful activity before trying again. Likewise, consider restricting your sleep hours. For example, go to bed at 10:00pm and wake up at 6:00am, regardless of how much time you spent asleep. The logic: If you go to bed at 10:00pm, toss and turn until midnight, and then sleep until 8:00am, you’ll be likely to repeat the pattern night after night.

See a Therapist

Ongoing sleep struggles can get into your head, feeding unhealthy fears and beliefs about sleep. Put another way: The more you battle insomnia, the more you worry about your insomnia, and that worry breeds more insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves combining concrete behaviors, such as setting regular bedtimes and wake times, with practicing positive, rational thinking. Though you can do it in person or online, a single weekly online session has been shown to help people with insomnia improve their sleep quality in just six weeks.

Talk to Your Doctor About Medication

When nothing else works, sleep aids or supplements like melatonin, with or without a prescription, can help with insomnia. But it’s always best to talk to a doctor before taking any sleep aid or supplement.