Insomnia: What to Do When You Can’t Sleep
Does it feel like the Sandman is playing tricks on you? You can’t sleep when it’s bedtime, but you’re crazy tired all day. Seriously, how can that be? Unfortunately, it’s a pretty common problem that can be caused by a wide variety of things. The good news is that it can also be resolved with some pretty simple steps most of the time.
Did you know that…
- 1 in 3 people will have insomnia at some point during their life
- Approximately 35% of those with insomnia have a family history of it
- Women are twice as likely as men to have insomnia
Here are a few more insights you might find interesting that hint at possible causes of your insomnia. Insomniacs are more likely to be:
This battle with insomnia has been going on for centuries. In the past, humans have tried some crazy ways to defeat it including:
- The Greeks and Egyptians tried smoking opium
- During the Middle Ages, people made a potion made from the gall of a castrated boar
- Someone in the 12th Century came up with the idea of counting sheep
- In Elizabethan England, people rubbed their feet in dormouse fat
- During Victorian times they tired putting magnets under the bed
These were some pretty interesting ideas which met with varying levels of success. People from all around the world are still trying some interesting natural remedies to combat insomnia. Here are a few of the more interesting ones that have been reported:
- India – Drinking Rauwolfia roots
- USA – Eating raw onions
- Japan – Eating sea slug entrails
- France – Eating fried lettuce
Let’s look at some of the simpler and more logical ways to manage your insomnia. First off, you should avoid the following things:
- Drinking alcohol in the evening
- Smoking before bed
- Distractions like your TV, phone, computer, etc.
- Eating a large, fatty meal before bedtime
- Taking long naps during the day or in the evening
- Drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening
- Having a sugary snack before going to sleep
- Drinking too much before going to bed
Next up, you should do the following:
- Take a warm shower or bath before bedtime
- Wear socks to bed if you have cold feet
- Get in at least 20 minutes of exercise in the morning
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Use noise to help block out unwanted sounds (such as a fan, or white noise machine)
- Get out of bed if you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes
When to Get Help
If you’ve tried all of these strategies to manage your insomnia and you’re still not getting the rest you need, you may need to seek the help of a sleep specialist. Here are the top signs that it’s time to get professional help:
- You’re experiencing excessive sleepiness
- It’s a struggle for you to stay awake when you’re inactive
- You snore, gasp, or choke during sleep
- A restless sensation in your legs
- You’ve fallen asleep while driving
- Drinking lots of caffeinated beverages or eating sugary snack is the only way you can get through the day
- You need to use sleep aids on a regular basis to get to sleep
Ask yourself the following questions before laying down to go to sleep:
- Does your bedroom feel safe and comfortable?
- Is your bed made?
- Have you turned off and put away all of your electronics?
- Do you feel hungry?
- Did you check the temperature of your bedroom to make sure it will stay cool?
- Did you follow a relaxing bedtime ritual?
- Are you managing any pain or discomfort?
- Are your curtains fully closed?
- Have you written any thoughts you can’t get out of your mind?