Updated November 11, 2020You feel tired all day long, but once your head hits the pillow at night, you’re wide awake. Or maybe you fall asleep easily, but wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. If you’re reading this post, these scenarios probably sound familiar.Insomnia is a sleep disorder that could be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, medication, or poor sleep habits. Symptoms include trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. The good news is there are many simple ways to deal with insomnia and get a good night’s sleep.About InsomniaInsomnia is a sleep disorder that occurs on its own or as a symptom of another medical condition. When you have insomnia, you suffer from one or more of the following:Trouble falling asleepDifficulty staying asleepWaking up too earlyNot feeling well-rested the next dayPervasive sleepiness throughout the dayDifficulty concentratingIrritabilityPoor performance at work or schoolAcute insomnia is a short-term condition, usually brought on by stress or illness. Chronic insomnia is when you have trouble sleeping at least three nights a week for at least three months.Although insomnia may not seem serious, it can impact your quality of life and overall well-being. Sleep is critical to your health. Inadequate rest leads to an increased risk of serious health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. You also have a higher likelihood of accidents while driving.Risk factors for insomnia include being a woman and being over the age of 60. Stress, mental and physical conditions, and irregular schedules can also put you at a higher risk of insomnia.1. Optimize Your Sleep Environment Most people underestimate the importance of a good sleep environment. Insomnia may feel like a problem that is all in your head, but your surroundings play a role, too. Some best practices for your sleep environment include:Make the bedroom a place for sleep only— not a place for watching television, texting friends, catching up on work, etc.Set the thermostat to a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.Use blackout curtains to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Turn off any other lights in the room or hallway. If you’re not able to darken your surroundings, use an eye mask.If you can hear busy streets or other distracting sounds from your bedroom, use a pair of earplugs to muffle the outside noise.Find the best mattress, bedding, and pajamas for your needs. If you wake up feeling hot at night, use moisture-wicking or temperature-regulating fabrics to keep you cool through the night.2. Maintain a Regular Sleep ScheduleIf you wake up early on weekdays and sleep in on the weekends, you are doing your body a disservice. Consistency pays off when it comes to insomnia. Choose a time to go to sleep and a time to wake up, then stick to them. Soon, your circadian rhythm will adjust to this new routine and you will begin to fall asleep and wake up at these times naturally.3. Cut Down on CaffeineSome people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Keep track of your caffeine intake and sleep patterns. If you start noticing a pattern of poor sleep on the days when you stop for coffee on the way home from work, it’s a good indication you should limit caffeine. Even eating dark chocolate after dinner can be stimulating to the nervous system and impact sleep quality. If you have a sensitivity to caffeine, keep your consumption limited to mornings.Colleen Ehrnstrom, author of “End the Insomnia Struggle: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep,” also adds, “Be aware of caffeine and stimulants that might be in foods or medications (such as allergy meds) that can also interfere with sleep.”4. Stay Active Try not to work out right before bedtime, but do make time for exercise daily. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent insomnia. Not only will you get more hours of sleep with exercise, but you will also sleep more soundly.Colleen Ehrnstrom states, “ If you are not currently exercising, consider spending 5 minutes doing something to get your body moving (e.g. walking stairs, jumping jacks) every day. The optimal time to do this is around 4 or 5 hours before bed to help promote the process of sleep.”5. Don’t Eat At BedtimeWhen your digestive system is working overtime, it can impact your sleep. If you make a habit of eating and then lying down shortly afterward, you can develop gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and suffer from heartburn. This occurs because when you’re flat on your back, acid from the stomach can flow up to the esophagus, causing irritation.Watch your drinking before bedtime, too— if you end your day with a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea, you may find yourself waking up to use the bathroom a few hours after falling asleep.6. Reduce StressStress is a significant cause of insomnia. Relieving anxiety is easier said than done, but here are some proven strategies to help calm your mind before bedtime:Use techniques like progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing to clear the mind and release tension from the body. If you find this type of relaxation difficult because of the stillness it requires, try gentle stretches.If a mental to-do list keeps you up at night, write down what’s on your mind so you can tackle those tasks in the morning.Avoid stressful situations and conversations before bedtime. Don’t check in on work at the end of the day, and if social media leaves you feeling keyed up, skip it, too.Implement a calming bedtime routine. This could include a warm bath at night or reading a book.Take up the practice of journaling. This is particularly helpful if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep because your mind is racing.Get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep after about 20 minutes. Trying to fall asleep when you can’t makes you even more stressed out. Leave your bedroom and read a book, do some knitting, or work on a puzzle— any activity which calms you and doesn’t involve screen time will work.Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) with a qualified therapist can also help those dealing with lack of sleep caused by stress and anxiety. You can also try this program at home as there are apps and books to help you create a personalized sleep program that works for you.7. Be Mindful of NapsWhen you are suffering from sleep deprivation, it’s tempting to take naps to catch up on your sleep. While napping is certainly helpful, it’s important to be mindful of when you’re taking your naps.If you’re chronically sleep-deprived, feel tired enough to fall asleep, and you have the opportunity to do so, by all means, nap. When your body needs rest, you should listen to it. However, it’s best not to get too carried away with mid-day naps. Meaning, your day-time shut-eye shouldn’t last for hours and shouldn’t be too close to bedtime.A good rule of thumb is to schedule naps 5 to 6 hours before it’s time to go to bed. That way, your sleep is not hindered when bedtime rolls around.8. Limit Screen Time at Night The blue light emitted by televisions, computers, and mobile devices can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle. This occurs because the blue light impacts the body’s production of melatonin. Instead of watching television or scrolling through the latest news on your phone, try reading a physical book.9. See Your DoctorIf you’ve tried these strategies and still suffer from wakefulness at night, make an appointment with your doctor for a physical exam. Medical causes for insomnia include:Chronic painOveractive thyroidSleep apneaRestless leg syndromeGERDHeart diseaseMental health conditions like anxiety and depressionMedications with stimulant side effects, including cold and allergy medications, antidepressants, and steroidsWhen a medical condition is at the root of your insomnia, your doctor can work with you to find a solution.Common Questions About InsomniaHere are some questions you might have about insomnia:Can insomnia be cured? “Yes and no,” says Colleen Ehrnstrom, “Insomnia is a very treatable challenge and you can make changes that improve your quality of sleep. But there is no “cure” for sleep because sleep is a fluid experience (like your appetite, mood, and concentration); variability is a normal part of the human experience. To create sustainable and healthy sleep, it is important to implement habits and lifestyle choices that support your body’s ability to sleep. These guidelines can help you to promote a healthy sleep pattern that you can rely on overtime. However, if you have struggled with sleep for more than a month, you will likely need to consider augmenting these guidelines with a more structured sleep program known as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).” How do you deal with severe insomnia?If your sleep problems are so severe they impact your ability to function, make an appointment with your primary care provider for a physical examination. You can also learn more about how to address these challenges on your own by learning more about CBT-I.How can I fight insomnia naturally?The tips listed in this article are all-natural ways to fight insomnia. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, exercising throughout the day, and practicing good sleep hygiene are some of the best ways to naturally support your body’s sleep patterns, thus reducing symptoms of insomnia.Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation are also helpful. Most insomniacs are able to treat their sleep troubles without the use of over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.How do you fall asleep on your schedule?Progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing are two simple ways to increase your ability to fall asleep quickly.To do progressive muscle relaxation, lay on your back in bed with your arms at your side. Starting at your feet, tighten your muscles, then consciously relax them. Move up your body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group as you go until you reach your head.There are many breathing exercises to help you fall asleep. The easiest is to take long, deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat until you start drifting off to sleep.Is 3 hours of sleep better than no sleep?Three hours of sleep is not enough to feel 100 percent but it’s better than not getting any. The same principle applies whether you’re getting two hours or six hours of sleep. You’ll feel sluggish if you’re not getting enough sleep, but any sleep is preferable to none.Deal With Insomnia and Sleep Better TonightBecause insomnia has many potential causes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for it. Try implementing the strategies listed in this article before turning to sleeping pills. Good sleep hygiene practices, like limiting screen time before bed and adhering to a sleep schedule, will benefit everyone.If you notice that stress and negative thoughts are impacting your insomnia, relaxation exercises and journaling may help. Sometimes, an underlying medical condition also impacts insomnia. In these cases, it is important to see your doctor for a physical exam and diagnosis.If you implement these simple strategies for overcoming insomnia, you’ll reap the rewards of better sleep.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.