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.
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.
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.
Poor sleeping conditions such as those found on planes can interfere with anyone’s sleep. But sleep onset insomniacs may find them particularly challenging, accustomed as we are to not falling asleep very quickly and being bothered by things that other sleepers readily tune out.
Why is it so hard for some insomniacs to fall asleep and what can help? Following are six ways to hold sleep onset insomnia at bay.
Here’s a complaint I often hear from insomniacs going through sleep restriction therapy: it’s hard to stay awake until bedtime. A related frustration comes with suddenly having extra time on your hands.
“I don’t know what to do with myself till 2:30 in the morning!” an insomnia sufferer groused to me.
Here are variations on 11 activities aimed at keeping you awake until the clock says it’s time to head to bed.
A reader named Gunjan recently asked a question about trouble sleeping due to temperature changes at night. Here it is, lightly edited:
“It seems my body is very sensitive to temperature while I am sleeping. Many times it has happened that I went to bed at an optimal temperature. But as soon as my body sleeps, I wake up feeling too cold. Then I go to bed after switching off the fan or covering myself with the bed sheet but then I can’t sleep because I’m too hot. This is quite frustrating. . . . Does anybody . . . have any help to offer?”
If you’re prone to insomnia when it’s chilly outside, the problem may have to do with too little exposure to daylight in the colder months of the year. Working in well-lit conditions and using a light box may help to relieve your insomnia symptoms.
Sometimes I hear from people whose sleep problem sounds more like a circadian rhythm disorder than insomnia. Laurel wrote that she’d always been a night owl. So she was taking sleeping pills to get to sleep at night.
But if her problem is due to a delayed or sluggish body clock—if what she has is delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD)—she’d be better off with other types of treatment. Here’s more: