How Can I Overcome Insomnia Without Using Drugs?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you either have a difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. An estimated 3.3 million Canadians, or about one in every seven suffer from this.



Three types of insomnia are called transient (days to weeks), acute (weeks to months), and chronic (years). There are some common causes, and it’s more often our lifestyle that plays a huge role. We can get into some bad sleep habits, for example, if you are working shifts, have a lot of stress and worries where you are ruminating at night, or if you are a new mother who is keeping a listening ear out for the baby at night.

Look at other behavioural factors in your life, such as how much caffeine you have during the day and at what time. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Are you exercising in the day or late at night? Are you affected by the lack of light in the winters as these changes in the light can affect your circadian rhythms?



It’s worth learning more about what is called “Sleep Hygiene”. These are tips that will help you develop healthy sleep habits. For example, going to bed only when sleepy, to reduce the time you are awake in the bed. If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something uninteresting until you feel sleepy. Sit quietly in the dark or read something that is not stimulating. Don’t expose yourself to bright light while you are up, as this gives a cue to your brain that it is time to wake up.

I’m often surprised that a lot of my insomniac clients still have a TV and laptop in the bedroom. These are more stimulants, with the light and noise this will keep your mind active and more alert rather than winding down and getting ready to sleep. So aim to keep things regular and get up and go to bed the same time every day (even on weekends). 


Lastly, think about how you would put a baby to bed. Have a nice warm bath (perhaps with lavender), make your room quiet and warm, with perhaps some soothing music in the background. Prepare for sleep by making the hour before sleep a time of peace and quiet for you.

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