You just want a good night’s rest. But, you’re not getting it. If you really think you have chronic insomnia, here are 6 things to do. You need a good night’s rest!
1. Keep Track. You really need to know how much sleep you’re getting and how much sleep you’re missing. Track it in a diary. Know what time you fall asleep and when you’re tired during the day. Keep track of your activities. How much blue screen time (computer, TV, tablet or smart phone) do you put in before bedtime? What are you eating and drinking? You may be able to spot and change a pattern that’s interfering with your sleep and if you decide to get medical help, you record will be an important tool for the doctor or therapist.
2. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s a common technique to help end sleepless night. It’s called CBT-I. It will help you self-monitor and develop mental strategies as well as to create an environment conducive to sleep. If you don’t want to see a therapist or want to try it on your own first, search on line and you’ll find CBT-I available.
3. Accept Insomnia. Accept that you’re awake and not asleep without making any judgements or comparisons – like “my partner goes to sleep so easily” or “there must be something wrong that I can’t sleep”. Don’t allow catastrophic thinking like you’re going to lose your job because you’ll be too tired to do what needs to be done. Stay positive. Get up, move around and do something soothing like reading a boring book. No TV or screen time, please!
4. Check Medications. Some medications from corticosteroids to OTC pain relievers that contain caffeine may be keeping you up. Never stop taking a medication without consulting with your doctor, but you can drop the pain relievers with caffeine or cold and flu medications with alcohol. If you think a medication is at fault, talk to your prescribing doctor.
5. Herbal Supplements and Teas. From lemon balm to chamomile tea, there are many sleep aids available. Two of the most common are melatonin, the naturally-occurring hormone that your body produces when its nighttime or Valerian, an herb with mild sedative effects. Know that the quality of supplements varies widely and some may interfere with prescribed medications so check with your doctor before you start taking them.
6. See a Medical Professional. If your record keeping and your body are both telling you that you need help, see your doctor. Lack of sleep is a medical issue so you want to bring in the expert. Your doctor may recommend medication or that you see a therapist to help you sleep.
Do the simple things that help give you a good night’s rest. Turn off all screens and lower lights about 2 hours before bedtime. If you smoke, quit – it’s good for your health and it can actually be nicotine withdrawal that’s waking you up in the middle of the night. Treat your bedroom with respect. Have clean sheets. Turn off all lights and turn the alarm clock to the wall or buy one that you can turn off the glow. If you need a new mattress, it’s the best investment you can make. You’ll be surprised at how affordable great mattresses -- like the highly preferred latex mattresses – are if you shop with an online mattress firm. Do your part and if that doesn’t work, protect your health by getting help from a sleep professional. Good nights make happy days.