Sleep-onset insomnia—trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night—has been one of the biggest challenges in my life. By now, having gone through insomnia therapy and spent decades observing how changes in behavior and the environment affect my sleep, I know what I need to do—and what not to do—to get the best night’s sleep I can.
If you’ve got sleep-onset insomnia, here are 8 do’s and don’ts that may help to regularize your sleep.
“I have 5 years of anxiety about not being able to sleep to overcome,” began a query I received a month ago. “Once triggered, it is difficult to stop this downward spiral and sleep.”
Without a doubt, anxiety about sleep is one of the hardest aspects of insomnia to beat. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can help to reduce sleep-related anxiety, as can other adjunctive therapies. But here’s an alternative treatment that might lead to calmer nights: plant-based medicines found to be effective for anxiety.
Do you experience a sudden onset of insomnia at about this time every year? Not much is written on seasonal insomnia that occurs in warm weather. Yet I’m convinced it’s a real phenomenon since my posts on summer insomnia get lots of traffic starting in May.
Here’s updated information—and speculation—on what could be causing the problem and how to get a better night’s sleep.
Several drugs approved for insomnia are in the doghouse these days, and physicians are doing a fair amount of off-label prescribing. What medications should we expect to be prescribed in lieu of zolpidem (Ambien) and temazepam (Restoril)?
Using a “translational approach,” McGill University researchers have reviewed a host of medications with sedative properties and found the evidence base for some is stronger than for others. Here are the drugs they’ve found are most likely to work.
I don’t often write about technology developed to improve sleep. I’m frankly skeptical that most products could help me any more than the daily exercise I do and the habits I changed after going through CBT for insomnia.
But a few items have caught my attention recently because they sound like they have genuine potential to help—two I’ve blogged about before and one brand new. See if you agree.
A daily routine and daily exposure to sunlight help regulate sleep. Research backs this up and I see it in myself. My best sleeps come after days when I get up and out and do the things I do at the usual time.
Last night my sleep went off the rails, and I’m convinced the problem was at least partly related to light. Let me explain.
When my family gathers for a few days over the holidays, usually someone brings along a sore throat or a cough. Try though that unlucky person may to keep the germs from spreading, they almost inevitably do.
I catch colds fairly easily, and I’ve often wondered if insomnia has a part in that. A new study suggests that chronic insomnia does—at a minimum—increase our susceptibility to influenza. Here’s more about the study and precautions poor sleepers can take to stay healthy over the holidays.
If you’ve got insomnia, you’ve probably heard of “worry lists.” Sleep doctors for years have been urging insomniacs to write our worries down before going to bed, claiming this will alleviate anxiety and sleep will come more easily.
Really? Write about looming deadlines and all the upcoming functions I have to prepare for before I go to bed? That’s sure to send my anxiety through the roof! (not to mention keeping me up for hours).
But the idea may not be as counterproductive as it sounds.