How’d you sleep last night? If you’re like the millions who report they don’t regularly get enough sleep, you may have insomnia, which affects nearly 30 percent of adults. The lack of zzz’s can spell trouble because those who struggle with insomnia are at increased risk for heart attacks, hypertension, and obesity.
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.”
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.”
Tossing and turning during the night or having trouble falling asleep can make you sleepy and grouchy during the day. You may have tried some things to help your insomnia that haven’t worked. The good news is that there are many treatments to help you sleep better. But first it helps to know the reason why you don’t sleep well. If you have a medical problem, such as chronic pain, or an emotional problem, such as stress or depression, treating that problem may help you sleep better.
Treatment options for insomnia
Treatment options include behavior and lifestyle changes, medicines, and complementary medicines.
Behavior and lifestyle changes
Getting ready for bed means more than turning down the sheets. Sleep experts know that there are many things that affect how well you sleep. Behavior and lifestyle changes improve overall sleep quality and the time it takes to fall asleep-without the side effects of sleep medicines. Perhaps most important, these improvements last over time.
To improve your sleep, here are some things you can try:
- Relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation, may help you if you lie in bed with your mind racing.Try these relaxation exercises:
- Choose a healthier way of thinking. Healthy thinking is a way to help you stay well or cope with a health problem by changing how you think. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of counseling that can help you understand why you have sleep problems and can show you how to deal with them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps reduce interrupted sleep over time.
- Lifestyle changes are simple things you can do that may help you sleep better. These include changing your sleep area or schedule, watching what and when you eat and drink, and being more active. It’s also important to keep regular bedtimes and wake times-7 days a week-and to try to avoid taking naps during the day.