Some people with insomnia may have trouble falling asleep, while others can fall asleep easily but wake up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. Certain medical conditions, medicines, stimulants, emotions or stress can cause insomnia. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, inability to focus, anxiety and depression. It can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. The cure for your insomnia depends on its cause.
Stop taking stimulants before bedtime. Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can all interfere with getting a good night's sleep. Some medications, such as diet pills, contain caffeine. Although alcohol might make you feel drowsy, it will keep you from entering into the deeper stages of sleep.
Go outside in the sunshine during the day. Bright natural light helps regulate your circadian rhythm, helping your body stay awake during the day and sleep better at night.
Block out light and noise. If there's a street lamp, get black-out curtains for your windows or use an eye mask. Use a "white noise" machine to drown out urban or environmental noise.
Take valerian root, a natural herbal sedative available at health food stores. Take 1 or 2 tablets 30 minutes before bedtime.
Go to bed the same time each night. Establish a regular bedtime and stick to it seven days a week. Don't stay up much later on the weekends as this disrupts your natural sleep rhythm. A bedtime routine can signal your body to relax and prepare for sleep. Try something relaxing like a hot bath, meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Stop drinking liquids two hours before bedtime. You may be waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Make sure to use the bathroom right before you go to bed.
Exercise early in the day, not in the evening. Exercise gives you energy and releases endorphins, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. Exercise may also help you control your weight. Being overweight puts you at risk for sleep apnea.
Take a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that helps your body regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Try a 2.5 mg sublingual dose at bedtime.
Stop working at least an hour before bed. Turn off your cell phone and your laptop and try to relax. Unwind, and don't worry about tomorrow's deadlines.
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Don't give into the urge to nap. Stay awake during the day to help you sleep better at night. If your mind is still racing at bedtime, try keeping a journal or diary and writing down your thoughts.
An overactive thyroid can also cause chronic insomnia, so if you don't know the cause of your inability to sleep, consult your doctor.