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Tips for Overcoming Insomnia

Author: AnneMarie Laurri Bannister, MD

Chances are at some point you’ve had a night of poor sleep. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the US and about 10% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia.

How do I get a better night’s sleep?

First thing is first: Better sleep hygiene

  1. Stick to a schedule – keep your sleep within certain times, don’t oversleep on the weekends to try to catch up

  2. Avoid using devices with light and sound in bed

  3. Get a bedtime routine – A relaxing ritual done nightly will help with sleep. This should be done with the phone, e-book and TV off! Try a hot shower before bed or a relaxation exercise.

  4. Example: Beginning with the muscles in your face, squeeze (contract) your muscles gently for one to two seconds and then relax. Repeat several times. Use the same technique for other muscle groups, usually in the following sequence: jaw and neck, shoulders, upper arms, lower arms, fingers, chest, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Repeat this cycle for 45 minutes, if necessary.

  5. Try to avoid working on the computer before bed – this makes it difficult to unwind

Insomnia and Foods

  1. Cut back on alcohol – alcohol can make you feel sleepy at first but actually works as a stimulant later in the night

  2. Watch the coffee – this one seems obvious, but caffeine can stay in your system for about eight hours and make your brain less likely to settle down

  3. Avoid heavy meals before bedtime

  4. Nicotine before bed acts as a stimulant

Stimulus Control

  1. Get your comfortable bedroom set up before you get to bed – dark, quiet, and cool temperature tend to be better for sleep.

  2. Turn the clock away – looking at the clock during the night tends to provoke more sleep anxiety

  3. Spend no more than 20min trying to fall asleep – If you’re not feeling sleepy, get up and go to another room to do something relaxing until you start to feel sleepy again.

Still can’t sleep?

Talk to your doctor about other ways to work on insomnia. Contact Frank R. Laurri, MD today for help in the Buffalo area.


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