Sleep medications may be helpful for some insomnia sufferers, but before you reach for the pills, consider some easy tips for better sleeping:
Evaluate your sleep hygiene. Avoid watching TV, eating, or working in bed. Make the bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep the temperature a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house, and hide bedroom clocks so you're not constantly checking the time as you try to fall asleep. Try sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting naps or daytime sleeping.
Get active. Thirty minutes of exercise each day (at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime) will help you get more restful sleep at night.
Avoid triggers. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine or large meals before bedtime can disrupt your ability to fall asleep and remain asleep throughout the night. Though many people use alcohol to get to sleep initially, alcohol actually compromises the quality of sleep you get overnight.
Check your medications. Make sure they don't contain stimulants. Talk to your doctor about other options if you think your prescriptions are preventing you from getting good sleep.
Stressful life events also commonly trigger insomnia. If you think anxiety is the underlying problem behind your insomnia, relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and deep breathing exercises may be helpful techniques to fight off tension at bedtime.
Whatever the cause, insomnia can have devastating consequences on your health and quality of life. The key to relief is resolving the underlying cause.