10 Tips for Dealing with Insomnia

Yeah, I deal with that awful thing called insomnia. If you're reading this, chances are you do too.

I can’t pretend to have a magic solution, but I’ve found several tips to be helpful that work at certain points, so I thought I’d share them in the hopes that one or two would be useful.

1.       Insomnia can have many causes, but the number one cause that affects my sleep habits at night is a whirring mind, running a marathon in the dark. A very helpful marathon it would be, too... if only it was 7:00am in the morning and I was bearing the fruits of that marathon. However, 7:00am for me involves swollen eyes, a foggy-brain, and drooping eye-lids. So tip number one: keep a small notebook on your bedstand with a tiny book lamp attached and a pen handy. That way, when that brilliant idea strikes you, or you remember something that you simply must not forget, (or your sister will kill you!), you can roll over, flip on that tiny little unobtrusive light, and jot it down. This helps me sleep, because I know that when I wake up the next morning, the fruits of the obtrusive "mind marathon" that would have been slept into oblivion, suddenly appear on that beautiful piece of paper the following morning.

2.       Get out of bed and walk a few laps around the house in the dark. Don’t turn lights on, this will only increase alertness. Just wander around from room to room, or level to level, until you get a little worn out and feel you can lie down again.

3.       Get up and do a few yoga stretches. Unfortunately, this may not work for all of us, because lots of you amazing people stretch with yoga in the mornings to energize and wake up. (Lucky ducks!) But stretching out antsy legs or tense shoulders at night does do wonders.

4.       Lie on a heating pad. This is very calming. Your muscles may even be tight without your knowledge. Sleeping with a heating pad on your back or neck that automatically turns off after an allotted amount of time is incredibly helpful.

5.       Get up, go to another room, and stare out the window. I’m not sure why, but somehow, walking into another room and looking out a window into a moonlit backyard, or a quiet lamplit street is calming. Sometimes a lonesome dog barks, or a raccoon scuttles across the yard. But being alone in the coolness of another room looking out on the world instead of the inside of your eyelids is a nice break. I find that 5-10 minutes of this is sufficient.

6.       Listen to music with your earbuds. You can do this while lying in bed, or (like me), by getting up and going into another room to lie on the floor, listening to music, and humming softly along to the melody. (Yes, perhaps a little strange, but hey – it works!) Just don’t listen to bouncy music, or you’ll energize yourself.

7.       You’ve probably heard this one, but drink Chamomile tea. Hot things are soothing to the senses (like the heating pad I mentioned above), and the muscles tend to relax. Plus, chamomile is an herb known to calm the body.

8.       Use Lavender lotion on your hands, arms, or neck before you sleep. (Make sure there is real lavender in the lotion – not just an artificial scent. Looking for Lavender oil in the ingredients is a sure way to get a legitimate bottle.)

9.       This seems to be a new one going around on the internet, and I haven’t tried it myself, but many many people are now saying don’t look at a screen for a half hour to an hour before bed. Again, I haven’t tried this. But the popularity of the advice seems to be growing. Maybe that half hour before bed is a good time to fold some laundry, or actually take a crack at that to-do list for the next day? I don’t know.

10.   My favorite? (disclaimer: I haven’t tried it myself – I’ve heard it from another woman and it struck me as brilliant!) Listen to Gregorian chants! If you haven’t heard them before, look up the soundtrack on youtube. Gregorian chants date back to the first few centuries A.D. by the Gregorian Monks as a way of worship in their Monasteries. There is no accompanying music – just their chanting harmonious voices echoing soberly in a massive gothic chapel. VERY peaceful.

These tips aren't universal, but I hope that one or two of these will break up those weird nights of insomnia for you! If it is reoccurring, then perhaps a medical issue is preventing you from sleep like Adrenal exhaustion, hormone imbalances, thyroid problems, etc etc. Perhaps a visit to your doctor or enduring a blood test or two (blech!) is in order. Either way, I hope you get help! Insomnia is no fun!

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