What To Do About Occasional Sleeplessness

Every now and then, nearly everyone goes through through periods when sleeping is difficult.  The list of reasons this could happen is very long.  But, what do you do about it?  Check out these SleepBetter tips:

Review your bedding and sleep environment.  Many times, the place in which you sleep can be blamed for your inability to sleep.  Are your pillow and mattress appropriate for your sleep style or too old?  Pillows should be replaced every 18 months.  Beds last longer, and problems with a mattress can be fixed with a mattress topper.  Also, make sure you have the right bed covers for the weather, because being too hot or too cold can make sleeping hard.  Finally, if your bedroom is too noisy (due to outside or inside noise) a white noise machine can solve many problems.

Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. All three of these substances can ruin your sleep.  Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, which are not conducive to sleep.  You may think alcohol helps you sleep because you go to sleep faster after a few drinks, but your slumber isn’t nearly as productive because it reduces REM sleep, may cause you to wake up as soon as the alcohol leaves your system, and leads to more bathroom trips in the middle of the night.

Don’t just lay in bed. If you find that after a long time you’re unable to sleep, it might help to get up and do something calming like read a book (the paper kind) or listen to calm music.  Laying in bed frustrated will not help you get to sleep.

Clear out your “to do” items before bed. Try to ensure that you don’t have any tasks hanging over your head before you turn in for the night.  These may lead to worry, which leads to sleeplessness.

Try to avoid sleep aids.  While over the counter sleeping pills are generally safe for occasional use, it’s best to try to avoid any “crutch” that will keep you from sleeping naturally.  Even melatonin supplements, which use natural or synthetic versions of a hormone made in our bodies, have side-effects.

See your doctor. The decision to see a doctor is an important one, because there is a big difference between occasionally having trouble sleeping and chronic insomnia.  Chronic insomnia is classified as having trouble sleeping (either trouble falling asleep or staying asleep) for three nights each week for three months.  If you are at that level or even near it, or if you’re at all worried that there might be a medical reason for your sleep troubles, it’s best to discuss the issue with a medical professional.