Do you have trouble sleeping sometimes? Do you sleep but feel like you aren’t rested? Different people need different amounts of sleep. Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours you sleep or by how quickly you fall asleep. Instead, it depends on the quality of your sleep, and how you feel after sleeping. Even if you are sleeping eight hours a night, if you are still feeling tired and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia. About half of Americans report sleep difficulty at least occasionally, according to National Sleep Foundation surveys. Try all these methods first, and use medications only as a last resort and under the direction of your physician.
1. Take a warm bath
Use bath salts, aromatherapy bath oils, bubble bath, or throw in Epsom salts and baking soda—one cup of each.
2. Get a massage
Have someone give you a massage just before going to sleep. Even a short back rub and/or a face and scalp massage can be a big help. Have them make the massage strokes slow, gentle, yet firm, to work the tension out of your muscles and soothe you to sleep.
3. Play music
Play some soft, soothing music that will lull you to sleep. There are even cd’s and cassettes designed for that very purpose. Some are specially composed music, others simply have sounds of waves rhythmically breaking, or the steady pattern of a heartbeat. You can also try a fan or white noise machine to help block outside noise.
4. Try a calming drink
A glass of warm milk 15 minutes before going to bed will soothe your nervous system. Milk contains calcium, which works directly on stressed nerves to help you relax.
Try a cup of hot camomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea. All contain natural ingredients which will help you sleep. Most health food stores will also have special blends of herb tea designed to soothe you and help you get to sleep.
5. Try a light snack
A small, low protein, high carbohydrate bedtime snack, such as juice and cookies, eaten about an hour before bedtime, can help you fall asleep sooner.
Foods with large amounts of the amino acid L-tryptophan help us sleep better. These include warm or hot milk (but not cold milk), eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, turkey and cashews.
Even 15 minutes a day of exercise will help your body to relax more and sleep better. If you don’t want to do anything vigorous some light stretching is great a little while before bed.
7. Make a routine
Pick a regular time to go to bed every night. Even if you don’t think you’re tired, your body craves routine. After a while your body will be used to the scheduled routine and be ready to rest!
8. Don’t stress over it
Don’t lie awake trying to get to sleep any longer than 30 minutes. If it goes that long, get up. Do something quiet and non-stimulating. When you feel tired again, go back to bed.
9. Lights out
Try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible. A lighted alarm clock is a source of light that can be extremely annoying if you’re having a hard time getting to sleep. Turn your clock so you aren’t looking over at it every 2 minutes. When you’re trying to go to sleep the last thing you need is to know how long it’s been since you laid down. Don’t focus on time.
10. Don’t over stimulate your mind
At least a half hour before bed stop watching tv. An over stimulated mind can keep you awake.
11. Relax those muscles
Try this exercise. Record it if you want so you don’t have to remember all the steps. Make sure when you record it there’s no background noise and use a soothing and gentle voice. Pause between each step.
Lie on your back and close your eyes.
1. Feel your feet. Feel the weight of your feet. Feel your feet relax and sink into the bed.
2. Feel your lower legs. Feel the weight of your lower legs. Feel your lower legs relax and sink into the bed.
3. Feel your knees. Feel the weight of your knees. Feel your knees relax and sink into the bed.
4. Feel your upper legs. Feel the weight of your upper legs. Feel your upper legs relax and sink into the bed.
5. Feel your hands. Feel the weight of your hands. Feel your hands relax and sink into the bed.
6. Feel your lower arms. Feel the weight of your lower arms. Feel your lower arms relax and sink into the bed.
7. Feel your elbows. Feel the weight of your elbows. Feel your elbows relax and sink into the bed.
8. Feel your upper arms. Feel the weight of your upper arms. Feel your upper arms relax and sink into the bed.
9. Feel your buttocks. Feel the weight of your buttocks. Feel your buttocks relax and sink into the bed.
10. Feel your back. Feel the weight of your back. Feel your back relax and sink into the bed.
11. Feel your pelvic and belly area. Feel the weight of your pelvic and belly area. Feel your pelvic and belly area relax and sink into the bed.
12. Feel your chest. Feel the weight of your chest. Feel your chest relax and sink into the bed.
13. Feel your shoulders. Feel the weight of your shoulders. Feel your shoulders relax and sink into the bed.
14. Feel your neck, both front and back. Feel the weight of your neck.
15. Feel your neck relax and sink into the bed.
16. Feel your skull. Feel the weight of your skull. Feel your skull relax and sink into the bed.
17. Feel your mouth. Feel any tension in your mouth. Feel your mouth relax and any tension slide off into the bed.
18. Feel your eyes. Feel any tension in your eyes. Feel your eyes relax and any tension slide off into the bed.
19. Feel your entire face. Feel any tension in your face. Feel your face relax and let any tension slide off into the bed.
Mentally scan your body. If you find any place that’s still tense, relax it and let it sink into the bed.
12. Breathe deep
Deep breathing is probably the most effective and beneficial method of relaxation.
1. Lie on your back.
2. Slowly relax your body, starting with your feet and moving through every part of your body up to your face and scalp.
3. Slowly begin to breathe in, first filling your lower belly, then your stomach area, and then your chest and the top of your lungs almost up to your shoulders. Hold for a second or two, then begin to exhale.
4. Continue this breathing for 4 or 5 minutes. Don’t force your breathing. Do it in a relaxed, natural and peaceful manner.
5. After a while, imagine that you are resting on a warm, gentle ocean. The sun is shining peacefully on your body. Imagine that you rise on the gentle swells of the water as you breathe in, and that you slowly come down as you breathe out.
13. Go somewhere else
Visualize something peaceful. A beach with the sun warming you. Laying in hot bubble bath. sitting in a quiet park with nature all around you. Anywhere you find peaceful. Be detailed and focus on the senses you feel in your peaceful place. What do you see, hear, feel, smell, etc? Actually try and “be there” and “feel it.” Don’t exercise immediately before bed. Exercise at least half an hour before going to bed so your body will have a chance to slow down.
- Steps 11 and 12 above work even better if you do them together.
- If someone has a tip on how to use paragraphs in tips it would be much appreciated! Sorry that steps 11 and 12 are so long I tried to put spaces between but it wouldn’t let me! Thanks!
- Insomnia can be a symptom of physical disorders, although for most of us it’s the result of tension, stress and anxiety. If the problem persists please contact your physician.
- Remember it’s not just coffee that contains caffeine. Black tea, chocolate and cola drinks are also high in caffeine. Be sure if you’re drinking tea that it’s decaffeinated.
- Research has shown that alcohol and tobacco disturbs sleep, preventing a deep rest.
- Earplugs can be great but remember you may not hear an alarm clock or smoke alarm!