Insomnia woman on phone in bed
  • The Sound Sleeper

What can you do when you have insomnia?

Insomnia is the most common sleep problem and something nearly everyone experiences from time to time. If you’ve had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and/or have woken up in the early morning, you know what it’s like to have insomnia.

The aftermath of insomnia leaves you feeling unrefreshed, fatigued and sleepy. You may notice you can’t concentrate and your attention span and memory are not up to par — not the best feeling.

What can you do when you’ve been having occasional bouts of insomnia?

First, set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by starting in the daytime:

  • Get exercise, stay hydrated and eat nutritious food.
  • If you drink caffeinated beverages, do so in moderation and early in the day.

As evening approaches, avoid activities that can interfere with sleep:

  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol late into the evening.
  • Don’t eat a heavy, spicy meal before going to bed.
  • Don’t do high intensity exercise within two hours of sleep.

To prepare for bed, find internalizing activities you enjoy (i.e., focusing inward):

  • Use breathing or meditation to slow down your brain and body.
  • Start a thought journal for jotting down what’s on your mind (at least one hour before bedtime).
  • Take a warm bath (about 90 minutes before bedtime).
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Read a book (though not one that’s too exciting).

Be sure to minimize externalizing activities (i.e., interacting with the external world):

  • Watching TV
  • Dancing to music
  • Working on a computer
  • Interacting with social media
  • Scrolling the internet

Finally, make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleeping:

  • Don’t have electronic devices in your bedroom and avoid interacting with them right before bedtime.
  • Do make sure you have a cool, dark and quiet space for sleeping. Block outside light with blinds or curtains and use a fan or white noise machine if outside noise is an issue.

If you are a SleepCharge participant, use the Downshift relaxation modules in our Sleep Life Learning Center™ to help you fall asleep. And if insomnia seems to be an ongoing problem, be sure to take our Sleep Checkup™ to get a personalized report of your sleep.

Sources: SleepCharge Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia program

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