the importance of sleep

10 Tips to Help You Beat Insomnia

How’d you sleep last night? If you’re like the millions who report they don’t regularly get a enough sleep, you may have insomnia, which affects nearly 30 percent of adults.

The lack of zzz’s can spell trouble. Those who struggle with insomnia are at increased risk for heart attacks, hypertension, and obesity.

I used to suffer from chronic insomnia. I would toss and turn all night, trying to fall asleep.

But my mind would race and I just couldn’t relax. It was frustrating and exhausting, and it felt like there was no end in sight.

But then, I started doing some research. I read some books, talked to experts, and tried a variety of techniques to see what would work for me.

And after a lot of trial and error, I finally found a set of strategies that helped me overcome my insomnia and get back to regular sleep.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, I want to share my top 10 tips for getting the rest you need:

1 / 10 Talk to Your Doctor About Insomnia Treatments

If your sleep issues are affecting your day-to-day abilities, you should talk with your doctor. You can also boost your snooze with these easy home remedies from Everyday Health Facebook fans, plus expert takes from Jeanne Duffy, PhD, an associate professor of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Carolyn Harrington, a holistic health practitioner in New York.

2 / 10 Warm Milk for Sweet Dreams

“I drink a cup of warm milk just like my Grandma used to make.” — Tracie Neeley

Dr. Duffy says: “This tip falls into the general category of establishing an evening or pre-sleep routine, which many people find helps them make the transition from the day’s activities to the relaxed state that allows them to fall sleep. The good thing is that there are many different ways to do this, and the important thing is to choose a routine that makes you feel relaxed, and then stick with it every night, not just on nights when you’re more stressed than usual.”

woman enjoying restful sleep

3 / 10 Soothing Tunes for Sleep

“Have a relaxing CD playing on repeat all night, at a very low volume.” — Mark Bonnefin

Dr. Duffy says: “While we generally recommend that people not use the television or radio to help them fall asleep, for some individuals this may help. However, in many cases, using music, sound, or television to fall asleep may backfire, as the sound may wake you later on in the night. In that case, you might want to switch from music to some other pre-sleep routine to relax.”

4 / 10 A Spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar Before Bedtime

“Drink one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water just before bedtime.” — Julie Patel

Carolyn Harrington says: “Some people find that drinking this mixture just before bedtime helps them to get to sleep quicker and sleep much longer. Although it is not known exactly how or why this works, there are enough people who swear by this remedy to give it some credence.”

5 / 10 A Bedtime Story

“Reading a book works for me. Just read for an hour, or until you forget what page you’re on.” — Jeanette Murphy

Dr. Duffy says: “Reading in bed may help some individuals relax and fall asleep, but others may be tempted to keep reading for a bit too long. As with anything else in the pre-sleep period it is important to set a limit on how long you’ll do this and then be disciplined and turn off the lights at that time.

“One concern about reading right before sleep is the light exposure that comes with it. If it is bright enough and lasts long enough, the light can reset the biological clock later, leading to problems waking in the morning.”

6 / 10 Aromatherapy for a Sounder Sleep

“I put a few drops of lavender essential oil on my pillow. It works for my 9-year-old son too. If he can’t fall asleep, he asks for lavender and within 5 minutes he’s out like a light.” — Christine Genardi

Carolyn Harrington says: “Sniffing lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety and ease insomnia. In a recent study from Wesleyan University, those who sniffed lavender oil before bedtime slept more soundly than those who didn’t.”

7 / 10 Comforting Thoughts to Lull You to Sleep

“Thinking of how darling and lovely my family is.” — Asmau Dantsoho

Dr. Duffy says: “One of the keys to being able to fall asleep is to be relaxed and not anxious about sleep. Anything that works to achieve a sense of relaxation and reduce anxiety can be useful.”

8 / 10 Nighttime Happy Hour

“A glass of vino?!” — Stephanie Fisk

Dr. Duffy: “Alcohol is not recommended for people who are having trouble with their sleep, for several reasons. First, while it may help you to fall asleep a bit more quickly, it actually disrupts sleep in the latter part of the night. There is also concern that using alcohol regularly for sleep may lead to alcohol dependency. In addition, for people who have sleep apnea, alcohol increases the number of apnea events, disrupting sleep (and leading to numerous health concerns related to apnea). You (or your bed partner) may notice more snoring after drinking alcohol before bed, and snoring is a sign that there is disruption of the airway during sleep.”

9 / 10 A Bubble Bath in the PM

“A warm evening bath and a cup of chamomile tea helps me have a beautiful night’s sleep.” — Tosin Oladimeji

Carolyn Harrington says: “A warm bath could work since sleep is thought to be induced more rapidly when skin temperature rises and then rapidly drops. It also helps us relax, especially when coupled with a cup of chamomile tea, which is known for its relaxing effects. So for both reasons, I would highly recommend this sleep aid.”

10 / 10 Early Workout

“I find working out during the day and staying away from caffeine a few hours before bed helps.” — Nichole Ogden Garci

Dr. Duffy says: “These are both great suggestions. Anyone who is having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep should try to reduce or eliminate their caffeine intake, and then make sure the caffeine they do use is early in the day (ideally before lunch) to reduce the chance for it to interfere with sleep. Getting regular exercise is also good for sleep, but it should be done at least a few hours before sleep.”

Don’t Give Up. Don’t Give In.

I know how frustrating and exhausting chronic insomnia can be. But I also know that it’s possible to overcome it. These 10 tips helped me, and I hope they’ll help you, too. Remember, getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. So don’t give up – you can do this!”