5 Ways to Fight Insomnia Without Medication

By: Jenna Savage

47917_bedroomMany people suffer from sleep disorders. One of the most common sleep disorders is insomnia, which is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or both. The sleep deprivation caused by insomnia can lead to problems that affect quality of life, such as increased pain sensitivity and poor academic achievement. A lack of sleep can also have an adverse effect on a person’s physical health and well-being.

Typically, doctors treat insomnia by prescribing medications like non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, also known as Z-drugs, which help patients fall and stay asleep. However, as we reported last week, the effectiveness of Z-drugs is questionable, and may be the result of the placebo response rather than the drug itself. In addition, Z-drugs have dangerous side effects, such as dizziness and memory loss.

Thankfully, sleep medication isn’t the only treatment for insomnia. In fact, there are a variety of other ways for people to fight the sleep disorder. Some solutions are as simple as minor adjustments to a person’s habits. Listed below are five easy ways for people to reduce or even eliminate insomnia.

  1. Decrease your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant and as such, can make it difficult for people to wind down at the end of the day. If you enjoy coffee and tea, try to limit your indulgences to the morning and cut back on how much caffeine you drink. Doing so may make it a little easier for you to fall asleep at night.
  2. Cut down on alcohol. Some people drink alcohol before bed to help them fall asleep. However, alcohol can disrupt REM sleep and can also interfere with a person’s ability to stay asleep. It is therefore a poor choice for the treatment of insomnia. In fact, if you drink frequently, you may find that reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can help you overcome insomnia.
  3. Put down the electronics. The artificial light from electronics, like cell phones or computers, can interfere with normal sleep patterns. Using electronic devices right before bed can therefore make falling asleep a difficult process. Consider putting your electronics away before you start getting ready to turn in for the night.
  4. Pick up a pen. If you have trouble falling asleep due to anxiety, consider keeping a notepad by your bed. Use it to make lists of the things that are causing your stress. Doing so will help you clear your mind, which may help you fall asleep.
  5. Stop watching the clock. Keeping track of the time as you’re trying to fall asleep will not help you fall asleep faster. In fact, it will probably cause you anxiety, which may then disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Consider turning your clock away from you so that you’re not tempted to look as you are falling asleep.