So many of us are affected by sleepless nights. We look for the easiest, simplest solutions. Frequently this comes in the form of a sleeping pill. Interestingly, a recent study was conducted that compared the efficacy and effectiveness of psychological versus pharmacological treatments for chronic insomnia disorder by reviewing randomized control trials between 2004 to 2015. What they found was stunning. Sleeping pills are not very effective long term and many can have very significant adverse effects. In fact, evidence showed that cognitive behavioral therapy (better known as behavior mod) significantly improved insomnia remission, treatment response, and key sleep outcomes, including sleep quality and wakefulness after sleep onset.
Insomnia is a prevalent and debilitating condition that affects over 60 million Americans, and with associated healthcare costs that are estimated in the range of $30 to $107 billion each year. This overall total could double when the additional $60 billion in estimated costs associated with lost work productivity are factored in. Finding effective treatment and long term solutions is very important. The American College of Physicians recently published guidelines recommending doctors put aside their prescription pads in favor of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia as the most effective and safest treatment.
As someone who personal struggles with sleepless nights I have developed a variety of routines, behaviors and rituals to help me sleep and extend the amount of sleep I get regularly. Below is my list of 20 non pill popping tips to help you sleep.
- Create a set "going to bed routine"
- No tv or phones in bedroom
- When lights are out make sure there is no residual glow; the room should be dark
- Need to have or invest in a quality bed and pillows
- Make your bed with layers so you can manage your comfort zone temperature
- Make sure what you wear to bed meets your comfort needs
- Create an environment that is dark, cozy and comfy...made for sleep
- If you use a clock or electronic alarm make sure it operates noiselessly during the night while you sleep
- iPod and kindles need to be away from your head when sleeping
- Take a relaxing bath before bed
- Use bath salts for extra mind and muscle relaxing in your bath
- Stretches are great before getting into bed; it gets the kinks out
- Soothing teas, including "Sleepytime" teas help relax you, your brain and your stomach
- Set a regular time for going to bed and stick to it
- Read something non-violent for a few minutes before bed
- If you are a list person, put a pad of paper and pen by your bedside so when you have a hard time letting go of a thought or "to-do" for the next day write it down and then let it go
- No eating 2 hours before bedtime, preferably 3
- Avoid stimulants like drinks with caffeine after dusk
- Avoid late meals and overeating
- Listen to a meditation tape when lights go out
Revel in the process of relaxation and sleep. Make it a part of your healthy lifestyle.