Stop Counting Sheep: How to Deal With Insomnia Effectively

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how to deal with insomnia

One of the biggest mysteries in the world is how it’s possible to feel tired, yet wide awake at the same time. Luckily, after nearly a decade of battling it, I finally learned how to deal with insomnia!

During my college years, insomnia seemed to follow me everywhere. It didn’t matter whether I was at home or in my dorm — I simply couldn’t sleep. The main reason was that I couldn’t seem to turn my brain off. Suffice to say — I would look (and feel) terrible in the morning.

But, there is a silver lining. Insomnia is a vicious monster that’s difficult to defeat. However, it CAN be defeated!

I’d like to share some tips and tricks that will help you deal with it as well. And don’t worry — none of my methods involve counting sheep!

7 Tips on How to Deal With Insomnia

#1. Consider what’s keeping you up

Fixing any kind of problem requires a bit of reflection. Take a moment to consider why you think you’re having trouble sleeping. Is it stress or pain? Are you simply more of a night owl, or is there a bigger problem?

Some problems are easy to deal with. All it takes is a bit of discipline, and you’ll be able to establish a healthy sleeping schedule within a week.

However, if you don’t know how to deal with insomnia, and you’ve been battling it for quite some time, think about visiting a psychiatrist. You may have some deep-rooted issues that you’re completely unaware of, and professional help may be the quickest path to recovery.

#2. Spruce up your bedroom

When you’ve determined what’s keeping you from enjoying a good night’s sleep, it’s time to move on to the next step — tidying up your bedroom.

One thing I’m sure of is that my messy bedroom didn’t help my insomnia one bit. You may think that the state of your room won’t affect your sleep (after all, how can you see it when your eyes are closed?), but you’d be wrong.

It’s not just about the mess, though. You need to make your room a comfortable, cozy space where you go just to sleep. Consider adding some twinkly lights, painting your room a darker shade, and closing the curtains/blinds at night.

If you have a TV in there, it’s time to get rid of it!

Tip: Exchange your TV for a white noise machine that makes some peaceful sounds.

Another thing: don’t keep your phone next to you when you sleep. Not only is it a health risk, but if you keep it at close proximity, you’ll probably reach for it several times during the night too. So, you’ll probably end up scrolling through Instagram until morning.

If you’re like me, and you simply cannot go to bed and fall asleep immediately, you can read a book. I decided to read a few pages before bed instead of watching TV.

Nowadays, it takes me about 15 minutes to fall asleep. In some cases, I don’t even manage to read an entire chapter before I feel myself drifting off!

#3. Create a sleep schedule

Let me be honest — this step isn’t going to be easy. Making a schedule is simple enough; however, sticking to it will take some time.

Basically, you’ll have to force yourself to follow a sleep schedule. Don’t wait until you’re tired — just go to bed every night at the same time. It’s as simple as that.

You won’t fall asleep, but you’ll start getting your body used to a sleep schedule.

The same thing goes for waking up. If you have classes or work in the morning, you already have a schedule you need to stick to. Even if you don’t have any morning obligations, get up anyway.

After about a week, your body and mind will start adjusting to your new schedule. What’s more, your brain will automatically tell you when it’s time to go to bed.

#4. Exercise

It seems that everyone is always telling me to exercise when I have a problem. Back pain? Exercise. Low energy? Exercise. How to deal with insomnia? Exercise.

I’ll admit that it seemed like a generic piece of advice. However, once I tried it, I couldn’t believe that it actually works!

Of course, when I say exercise, I don’t mean you should go to the gym before bed. The best piece of advice I can give you is to find a workout you like and stick to it. It can be anything from cardio to Yoga.

Basically, you’ll get yourself physically tired, and you’ll relieve your mind from stress. It’s a win-win strategy!

#5. Leave your worries for tomorrow

If you want to learn how to deal with insomnia, you also need to learn to leave your worries for tomorrow!

Let’s face it — stress is all around us. Who can honestly say that their life is stress-free?

Ultimately, most people suffer from insomnia due to stress-related problems. There is no way to get rid of it for good. However, you can try to leave your worrying for tomorrow.

#6. Don’t stay in bed all morning

It may be tempting, but try not to postpone getting up in the morning. The best advice I can give you is to get up at the same time every morning. Trust me — you’re not going to feel any less tired if you spend all morning in bed.

If you’re not a morning person, I know this step will seem like it’s the most difficult to accomplish. However, there is a way to ease into it.

Start by setting your alarm clock half an hour earlier every day for about 3-4 days. After that, add another half hour, and repeat for three days.

Keep going until you reach your ultimate goal. I’m a firm believer in the phrase practice makes perfect, and I can honestly say that this method helped me.

Once you’ve established a morning schedule that you can stick to, you won’t have any trouble getting up. Soon, your body will adjust to your routine, and you won’t even need to set your alarm. Also, there are several benefits to getting up early, so give it a try!

#7. Don’t take naps during the day

If you like to take a nap in the afternoon, it’s time to change that habit. In fact, most people don’t know that afternoon napping can affect their sleep.

You may think that a quick afternoon rest will help you stay energized, but it’s probably one of the reasons you’re dealing with insomnia.

Obviously, if your body is used to going into nap mode after 2 PM, you won’t be able to go cold turkey just like that.

Start by going to bed a bit earlier than usual. If you follow the previous step, you’re probably going to feel tired anyway.

Most people tend to stay up late watching TV, or browsing the Internet. So, force yourself to turn off all your screens, and if you can, buy yourself a sleep mask. I bought myself a fuzzy unicorn mask and some cozy pajamas — now I can hardly wait to go to bed!

Additional Advice on How to Deal with Insomnia

Drink less coffee

Yes, I know. This piece of advice is the worst.

We’ve all grown accustomed to drinking coffee whenever we feel like our energy levels are low. Unfortunately, it’s time to limit your coffee intake.

But, don’t worry — I’m not saying that you should completely stop drinking coffee. Just drink less throughout the day. Caffeine can stay in your system for quite a long time.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that first cup of coffee in the morning. You can drink it without feeling any guilt. You can even drink one more during the day, and you’ll be fine.

However, try not to drink any coffee at least six hours before you go to bed. That goes for energy drinks as well.

Tip: I switched out my late afternoon coffee for a cup of herbal tea instead. Pick one that you already like, and give it a try! Just remember to avoid tea that contains caffeine, i.e., black and green tea.

If you’re having trouble going cold turkey, try drinking decaf. It still has a little caffeine; however, it’s much better than regular coffee.

Alcohol has got to go

I’m guessing you’re probably not thrilled about the coffee. Unfortunately, the same thing goes for alcohol.

Alcohol can be quite damaging to your sleep routine. It’s true that drinking alcohol can cause drowsiness, but you’re also most likely to wake up a million times during the night.

Drinking causes you to go to the bathroom more often, and it can mess with your circadian rhythm. I’m not telling you to never drink again. Just be careful how much you drink.

Conclusion

If lack of sleep is bringing you down, this simple guide on how to deal with insomnia will help you say goodbye to your problem for good! However, as I mentioned in most of the steps, the process of dealing with insomnia takes time.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately fall asleep the first night. It took me about a month to get used to my new sleep schedule, and I won’t lie and say it was easy.

Furthermore, don’t beat yourself up if you fail to go to sleep at the same time every night, or if you sleep in once in a while. Sometimes, our bodies have minds of their own, and it’s difficult to navigate them the way we would like to.

All in all, I can happily say that I’ve learned how to deal with insomnia, and I hope my how to deal with insomnia guide will give you the tools you need to conquer it too!