INSOMNIA: Tricks to Go to Sleep, and Stay Asleep

INSOMNIA:
Tricks to Go to Sleep,
and Stay Asleep
By Negar Khaefi, LMFT

310-291-8842
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and affects up to 60% of the population at one time or another. For many, insomnia can become a real problem, causing fatigue and irritability during the day, and can exacerbate conditions such as anxiety and depression. For many who are suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, insomnia is a fact of life, and occurs on an almost nightly basis. Some sufferers will turn to the usage of sleeping pills, many of which are addictive, and cause intolerable insomnia upon termination of usage.

Insomniacs generally have difficulties at work such as showing up late, difficulty concentrating, difficulty paying attention to detail, decreased productivity, becoming tired in the middle of the day, or appearing apathetic to others. It is difficult to be passionate, driven and energetic when you are dead tired due to lack of rest. If you can't stay asleep or are having trouble simply falling asleep, try these useful tips:

Don’t use your bed as your office:

Your bed is not your office, so don’t treat is as such. What I mean is, use your bed only to sleep, not to think, plan, calculate, analyze, worry, exercise, or anything else. When you get into your bed, your body should automatically become relaxed, and your mind shut off so that you can stay asleep. If you tend to become mentally hyperactive when you are in bed, what has happened is that your bed has become associated with thinking. To stop this cycle, get out of bed if you want to think. Go to the living room, and turn on a lamp. Sit in the couch, and think all you want. When you feel done, get back into bed. You might have to do this several times a night at first, but this is a necessary step in breaking the association you have made with your bed, and create a new one.

Limit your caffeine intake:

This one is a no-brainer. Drinking coffee after the morning can cause you to become hyper and uses much more effort to stay asleep. Drinking caffeinated drinks in the middle of the day is also a no-no for people who suffer from insomnia. If you are drinking caffeine because you are tired, then you are creating a cycle: lack of sleep leads to need for caffeine leads to lack of sleep. Instead of drinking caffeine, try a nice chamomile tea, warm milk, or decaffeinated green tea.

Exercise, exercise, exercise:

Exercise is an amazing weapon against insomnia. It can help reduce anxiety as well. If you engage in 30-40 minutes of cardio exercise per day such as walking, running, playing a sport, cycling, etc., you are not only healthier with reduced risk of physical problems, you are also improving your mental health. Exercise will tire out your body which will help you to sleep. It gives you confidence and a sense of well-being, which can help you to find peace of mind. It has been proven to be an excellent arsenal against anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Stop napping:

Many individuals who suffer from depression or anxiety tend to sleep in the middle of the day, sometimes for hours. This is often a defense against negative feelings, loneliness, or boredom. Napping during the day will decrease your need for sleep at night. If you nap during the day for longer than 30 minutes, you are giving your body permission to not be tired at night.

Some lucky individuals have leisurely lives, and are used to a siesta during the day. If you love napping after a big lunch, then go ahead, and enjoy yourself. However, don’t be upset or frustrated with yourself when you are not able to sleep that night. You have made your choice to take a nap in the day. Use your nighttime for something else.

Get therapy:

If you find that you have night-terrors, recurring nightmares, anxiety attacks in the middle of the night, have experienced a recent and sudden increase in sleep-walking or sleep talking, and have fitful sleep, you are likely stressed. Manage your stress level by using coping skills that have helped you in the past. If all else fails, get some therapy. Managing your stress level is key to getting a restful sleep. It is possible, however, that you need a little assistance, particularly if you have suffered a trauma, or recent life change that you are having difficulty with.

If you find that you have tried and tried, including all of the above, its time to consider medications such as sleeping pills. Medications are available that are less addictive than their predecessors. A short stint with a sleep med (two weeks max) could possibly get you on the right track. There are no guarantees with this. Please be careful about how you take them, and make sure you are under the care of a psychiatrist.


For more advice on how to Stay Asleep go to sleep tips