how to manage insomnia

Insomnia tips: 10 things to do when you can't sleep at night

One of the most painful things about insomnia is the boredom that happens when you find yourself staring at the ceiling for 3 hours straight. To make it worse, everyone else in your household is most likely asleep so you are stuck with your own thoughts. I always recommend that my clients who struggle with insomnia should get out of bed if they aren't able to fall asleep within 30 minutes. But after getting out of bed, what are you supposed to be doing?

Don't fret. I've got you covered. Here is a list of 10 things you can do when you can't sleep at night.

Look through old albums: Remember all those old pictures that are floating around in a random drawer or box in your home? Night time is the perfect time to actually get them organized. Think about it, you can reminisce about the good old days and get your pictures organized at the same time. If you don't have physical pictures, you can also spend this time organizing the pictures on your phone, tablet or laptop. Categorize them by date, location or any other system that works well for you.

Sort out junk mail: Many people have a junk mail drawer where they shove all their unsolicited mail and other miscellaneous items. Sometimes you can actually find good deals with coupons that are sent to your home. Night time is a great time to throw out useless mail, shred sensitive mail or organize mail you'd like to keep. My favorite mail organizing system is to use an accordion folder with tabs to keep everything. As your mail comes in, you can categorize it, and shred whatever you don't need.

Read something light (but not on a phone, tablet or computer screen): Night time or early morning is a great time to catch up on that novel or self help book you've been itching to read. Just ensure that you're not using an e-reader. I explain how electronics could affect your sleep cycle here. If you're a Christian, night time is also a great time to read your Bible or get caught up on a devotional. 

Clean out the fridge: Let's face it, no one likes to clean out the fridge, but the best time to do so is when everyone else is asleep. The kids can't bug you, your spouse isn't asking you questions, and you have total silence to get organized and methodical about it.

Organize clothes: You probably won't be able to overhaul your entire closet in one night, but you can definitely get a head start and feel accomplished. Pick one type of item and organize everything in that category. Perhaps you can start with shirts, or pants or skirts or accessories. Make it fun and enjoyable. You can even use headphones and listen to calming music while you organize. Getting stuff done beats laying in bed and feeling frustrated while everyone else is fast asleep. Insomnia doesn't have to take over your life.

Knit or craft: If you're creative, night time is the best time to start a new knitting project or some other type of craft. You can't imagine how much you can get done when you're able to work without the distractions that happen during the day.

Work on a scrapbook: Remember those pictures you organized? You can turn them into a scrapbook. These days you can even create an online scrapbook.

Write a to do list for the next day: At night, you can plan out your schedule for the next day. Write out all the tasks you'd like to complete the next day and also organize them according to priority. 

Clean out 1 drawer: Night time is also a great time to clean out your junk drawer. Perhaps start with your bedside table. Get rid of everything you don't need and hopefully, by the time you're done, you'll be tired enough to fall back asleep.

Ready to begin to sleep at night and kick this insomnia thing? Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to find out if CBT for insomnia is the right treatment for your insomnia. In just a few weeks insomnia could be a thing of the past. I also provide online sessions for clients throughout California.

5 Habits to help manage your insomnia

Insomnia can really be a real pain. Tossing and turning before you're able to fall asleep is very aggravating. Perhaps you've tried sleeping pills, but maybe you don't want to have to take a pill before you get some shut eye. Well, here are a few tips to help you drift off to sleep faster:

1) Create a restful nighttime routine: Many of us come back home from work in the evening, then continue to be busy, and then try to fall asleep after that. Your body needs to gradually transition from busy mode to rest mode. Your body needs a sign that it's time to begin to release the melatonin you need to become sleepy. Create a solid calming night time routine for yourself. This sleepy time routine is a great way to send your body that signal it needs. Choose any activity that feels soothing to you. It could include relaxing with a nice book, listening to some soothing music, drinking a cup of caffeine free tea (caffeine will keep you up, so avoid this at night), soaking in the tub or doing a light stretch. It doesn't really matter which activity you choose- as long as it's relaxing and calm. 

2) Exercise at the right time: I'm sure by now you've heard that you need to exercise for about  30 minutes a day to keep you healthy. Well, did you also know that exercising 3 to 6 hours before bed time could actually improve your sleep? Well, it's partly because there is a correlation between your body temperature and your sleep cycles. An average sleeper has a higher body temperature during the day and a lower body temperature in the evening. Exercise helps increase your body temperature- and of course it helps your body release endorphins (happy hormones). So not only would exercising at the right times help regulate your body temperature, it could also boost your mood. A win win for sure.

3) Keep your home cool in the evening: When your body temperature begins to fall in the evening, it signals your body to produce melatonin- the sleep hormone. However, if your body temperature is still too high, your body doesn't know that it's supposed to prepare for sleep. To give your body a competitive edge, ensure that your home is cool in the evenings so that your body temperature can also fall to the appropriate level. So, a warm body signals your brain to wake up, and a cool body signals the brain to begin to shut down for the night. 

4) Make your bedroom cozy and inviting: You work hard all day, and then you completely ignore the little things when you get back home. Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation. Think of it like your own personal spa. When you walk into a spa, the light is usually dim, it's quiet, it smells great and the temperature is nice and cool. It doesn't have to cost you much to recreate that effect. Make sure your sheets and clean, get a bottle of essential oils to get you relaxed (lavender is usually a great choice), dim your lights in the evening and maybe even play sounds of nature or some other relaxing sound. The goal is to create a comfortable environment so that your mind begins to relax the moment you walk into your bedroom. If your bedroom is cluttered and messy, chances are you won't find it relaxing enough to sleep- especially if you're already struggling with insomnia.

5) Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime: I know we are the social media generation. While social media is a great way to socialize and learn the latest gossip, those phone screens do nothing good for insomnia. Phones, tablets and televisions all emit blue light. Blue light disrupts the production of melatonin- the sleep hormone. Without an appropriate level of melatonin in your body you just won't be able to sleep well. If you phone or tablet becomes a temptation, try storing it away from your bed. Don't keep it on your nightstand- as it's too easy to reach in the middle of the night Some people even keep their phones in another room so that they don't reach for it in the middle of the night.

And if you'd like to learn a lot more habits to help you sleep, click here to learn more.

Now that you know 5 easy steps to manage your insomnia, start implementing them and let me know how it goes. If you're ready to finally kick insomnia out of your life, click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for Insomnia is the right treatment for your sleep problems. You can also call me at 951-905-3181 to find out how CBT for insomnia can help you sleep again. Remember, there is help for your insomnia, you just have to reach out. I also offer online sessions for clients throughout California.