This Insomnia Tips section will help you get started in curing your insomnia for good. They will help prepare you for the road ahead. These tips aren’t not meant to be a complete cure for insomnia – far from it! But they will lay down the basic foundation for a truly effective long-term insomnia solution.
Why have a sleep diary? Because it gives you important information you can use later on in your insomnia cure program. When should you write in your sleep diary? In the morning when you get up. What should you write in your sleep diary?
- What time you go to bed
- What time you get out of bed
- How many times you got out of bed during the night
- What you did when you were awake during the night
- How you felt and what you thought about while you were awake
- How you felt when you finally got out of bed
Insomnia Tip #2: Establish your Sleep Schedule and stick with it.
How do you do this? It’s pretty simple. First you make a definite “bedtime” when you get into bed (whether you fall asleep or not is irrelevant right now).
Then make a definite “wake up” time when you get out of bed and start your day.
Then stick to this schedule every night, no matter how little sleep you get. Click here to learn more about the sleep schedule.
NOTE: While I always refer to the period of sleep at “night,” as that is the time most of us do expect to sleep, if you are a day sleeper and night worker, just ignore that part and set the times you want to go to bed and wake up, then stick to that part. It’s the consistency that counts, not the time on the clock.
Insomnia Tip #3: Limit your time in bed.
When you establish your sleep schedule, make sure you don’t allow more than six to seven hours in bed. Do this even if you prefer to sleep eight or more hours per night.
Right now you’re likely not getting more than a few hours each night, so allowing six to seven hours in bed will be plenty. It will also prevent a common practice of oversleeping one night to make up for a previous sleepless night, which is tempting… but will almost guarantee you won’t sleep well the next night. Remember, consistency is the key to curing insomnia.
Insomnia Tip #4: Make your bedroom more sleep friendly.
Take a quick look around. Is your room a confused mess of clutter and unfinished work?
Many people find that room clutter and chaos interferes with peaceful sleep. At this point, you can’t rule anything out. You don’t need a complete overhaul, but clearing out your room and making it more comfortable – in as many ways as you can right now – will give your insomnia treatment a nice boost. Learn more about dealing with bedroom causes of insomnia here.
Insomnia Tip #5: Take time to relax.
Give yourself at least 15 minutes of winding down time before you go to bed.
You can do deep-breathing exercises or relaxation exercises in that time, if you wish.
Check out this article on relaxation tips and check out this article to learn more about establishing a good pre-sleep routine.
Insomnia Tip #6: Avoid TV and Internet.
I know, it’s a little strange to tell you not to go online when that’s how you’re reading this right now… but you know what I mean – stop the aimless surfing and obsessive email checking. That includes texting, gaming, tweeting and everything else. TV screens, computer screens (yes, even the tiny ones) are visually stimulating. Back-lighted screens and flashing images have been shown to cause mental stimulation and restlessness. It’s the physiological effect on your eyes and your brain that matters.
Insomnia Tip #7: Put aside some nighttime projects to do at night when you can’t sleep.
These can be anything that is mildly useful but not physically or mentally stimulating.
Mundane, small, boring, menial tasks like folding laundry, organizing your drawers, sorting coins, polishing spoons (does anyone ever polish spoons these days? didn’t think so), and so on. Most people have these quiet, sedentary, boring little projects available to them. Think for a while and you’ll surely come up with some. Learn more in the self-help tutorial.
When you can’t sleep, you can get up and work on these undemanding tasks for 15 minutes or so to break the tossing-and-turning cycle you’ve probably gotten into. It also prevents you from going to the TV or the internet, which will pass the time away, but won’t get you to where you want to go.
(Sorting old paperwork is sufficiently boring to be a nighttime chore.)
Insomnia Tip #8: Get some mild aerobic exercise four to five hours before you go to bed.
This can be walking, biking, dancing, or whatever you like and is convenient for you. Do this exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Then try some gentle stretching such as yoga or qigong exercises for another 10-20 minutes. Learn about exercise and insomnia here.
Insomnia Tip #9: Forget about caffeine.
If you feel you can’t survive without your morning coffee, go ahead and have a cup, but stay away from coffee, dark chocolate, coke, energy drinks, and tea (hot or iced) for a minimum of six hours before bedtime. If possible, cut all caffeine out of your diet for a while. You can always go back to it if you find it has no effect on your insomnia OR if you have cured your insomnia and want to re-test your tolerance.
Insomnia Tip #10: Follow the Insomnia Diet.
It’s too involved to go into right here, just check out this article on diet and insomnia for more details….
Insomnia Tip #10: Start your “Worry Book.”
Briefly, this is a notebook where you 1) make appointments with yourself to worry, think, ponder, figure out things, and so on at a specific time OTHER than at night when you want to sleep, and 2) write down your thoughts free-style during your worry periods. Sound silly? It works, it really does work. Learn more about this method here.
Insomnia Tip #11: Great, you’ve made it this far! Here is the last insomnia tip for right now, but probably the most important one. If you only do one of these, do this one:
TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF! Don’t expect to sleep any better for the next two weeks. It takes time for insomnia treatments to work, and you will simply sabotage all your efforts if you hope for, pray for, wish for, dream for, expect or desire an overnight cure. Insomnia is a paradox, and you will only make it worse – and set yourself up for disappointment and frustration – if you continue to pressure yourself to fall asleep. Please read the section on Sleep Anxiety for more tips about taking the pressure off.