Insomnia is one of those afflictions that can be temporary and a minor annoyance, or long-term and life-affecting. Insomnia has ruined lives, caused lost jobs and promotions, lost relationships, and accidents. The cost of insomnia in the United States is estimated at over $100B.

There are three types of insomnia: initial, middle, late/ terminal. Insomnia is sometimes also classified as either primary or medical, and can be induced by stress or anxiety, or even be genetic. While persistent insomnia should be checked with your healthcare provider, short-term effects can be relieved or prevented in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions.


Diet and Supplements

These are foodstuffs and supplements that you should or shouldn't take.

  • Drink milk.
    Milk has tryptophan and a warm glass, possibly with a pinch of ground nutmeg, can help you get to sleep. Bathing in milk is possibly even more effective. This remedy's effectiveness is usually more psychological than not.
  • Don't drink milk.
    Milk has protein, which could not only keep you awake but give you bad dreams because of digestion activity. Cold milk especially will not help. Whether milk works for inducing sleep or not depends on the person.
  • Fixed meal periods.
    Don't eat two hours before you expect to sleep. Digestion activity can keep you up. However, a light snack such as a piece of fruit or a piece of toast can help.
  • Eat carbohydrates.
    Carbs at supper, such as rice, bread, potatoes, will aid in sleep, especially if they contain tryptophan (mash potatoes with milk). Just don't eat too late at night, else you may find yourself fighting the battle of the bulge from excess unused calories.
  • Legumes and soy products.
    In addition to foods mentioned above, also try soy products (soy milk, tofu), whole grains, oatmeal, almonds, beans, hummus, nuts, and sesame, sunflower, poppy or flax seeds. Try the Lullaby muffin.
  • Don't drink caffeine.
    At least not late in the day. A good rule of thumb is to avoid coffee after supper.
  • Herbal tea.
    Herbal teas are non-caffeinated and a warm cup can help soothe you to sleep, as a substitute for warm milk. Chamomile particularly has a sedative effect (don't take if pregnant or using blood thinners). Valerian root, lavender and passionflower are said to help as well.
  • cider vinegar and honey.
    Honey has glucose, pectin, amino acids, enzymes, and B vitamins. Mix it with cider vinegar or chamomile tea.

  • Melatonin.
    Melatonin supplements are not a general remedy for insomnia, but do help the jet-lagged traveller.

  • Bananas.
    Bananas have both melatonin and serotonin, both of which are present in the body and induce sleep. They're also high in potassium, which the body needs to prevent bone decay. Low levels of serotonin are said to cuase mood disorders and depression.

  • Medications and alternative therapies.
    There are a variety of prescription and non-prescription remedies said to help with sleep problems. Sleepng pills and liquids should only be used as a last resort and after consulting your doctor, as these remedies are typically ineffective for insomnia.



Sleep Behaviour

How and when you sleep is important to control.

  • Caf-nap.
    So you're at work and you're drowsy. Take a Caf-Nap. Drink some strong coffee and take a 20-minute box017nap. The caffeine will be kicking in when you wake. It's probably best to do this somewhere away from the workplace, unless there's a rest area.
  • Cat nap.
    The jury's out on this one: many experts say napping during the day is bad, making it harder to sleep at night. However, many people swear by it, especially if you're not getting a full night's sleep. The famous British statesman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill only slept about 4 hours at night plus several 15-20 minute cat naps during the day.
  • Strictly sleeping.
    Use your bed only for sex and sleep. Anything else and you associate it with not sleeping. That means turn off the televsion. Don't read, either, unless the show or book is boring.
  • Hit the sack.
    But sleep only when tired. If you can't sleep for more than 30 minutes, get out of bed and try something else, such as reading something boring or listening to quiet music.



Sleep-Aiding Activities

Excess energy, stress, or distractions can affect your ability to fall asleep.

  • Jump up jump around
    Regular exercise during the morning: calisthenics, cycling, or lifting weights. Or take an early evening walk around the neighbourhood.
  • Workin' 9 to 5.
    Take your work home with you is pretty common practice. However, not box018making a distinction between daytime and night activities can be a source of stress and anxiety which will rob you of sleep. If you have to take it home, leave at least an hour between work and sleep, else you may find yourself resenting your job, which will cause you further stress.
  • Write your memoirs.
    If you're bothered by something, spend the time between your "homework" and sleep time recording your thoughts on paper, or even on a weblog, as well as some possible solutions, then tell yourself the problem will be resolved.
  • You're soaking in it.
    A warm, relaxing bath eases tension in your body, making it easier to sleep. A hot shower can work equally well.
  • Laugh it up.
    Laughter relaxes you, relaxes muscles, allowing you better chance of sleep. If you watch TV, don't do it in bed.
  • Meditate.
    If you are stressed out or distracted for any reason, your body is not relaxed and hence you'll have a hard time sleeping.
  • Give'em the rub.
    Giving a massage to your significant other will tire you out. Receiving a massage may just put you to sleep. Obviously, if both partners want to reciprocate, let the insomniac give the first massage.
  • Bright lights, big city.
    Having a quiet, darkened bedroom may be what you're lacking. Turn off your computer and get rid of any clocks with glowing lights.
  • White noise.
    White noise or binaural beats may relax you enough to put you to sleep. If you don't have access to a white noise generator, turn on a fan at a low setting.
  • White heat.
    Actually, you don't want it to to be too hot (or too cold) in your bedroom, as that makes for uncomfortable sleep. Adjust the temperature.




These are some miscellaneous suggestions that might help you achieve restful sleep at night.box019

  • Good morning, sunshine.
    Bright, early morning sunlight helps reset the human Circadian clock, which is based on 24.8 hours.
  • Keep'em separated.
    If you work and live in the same space, such as in a loft, or work out of your bedroom, this can affect
    your sleep. Put some neutral time between work and sleep activities.
  • Under pressure.
    Don't go to bed angry, upset, or anxious. Do what you have to to reduce stress,
    anxiety and guilt feelings in your life, for more restful sleep.
  • A regular guy/girl.
    Keep a regular sleep routine. Sleep and wake as consistently as possibly.
  • Don't smoke.
    Nicotine is a stimulant. If you smoke, try not to do so before close to bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol.
    Alcohol may make you fall asleep, but it's usually shallow and sometimes nightmare- producing.
  • Keep a sleep diary.
    If you have persistent insomnia, track your diet and sleep behaviour to look for patterns.
  • Comfortable bedding.
    Bedding should be comfortable and not too restricting. Use a comfortable pillow as well. Natural fibers are best as synthetic fibers can cause static and even electromagnetic interference.
  • A good mattress.
    If you've tried any or all the above but have a bad mattress, you might fall asleep sleep but it's not necessarily going to refreshing. A comfortable, supportive mattress beats one that's warped and buckled. If you use a futon, try placing a thick sheet of plywood under the mattress. (Unless, of course, you use it as a couch during the day.)