4 Ways to Get Better Sleep Without Medication

4 Ways to Get Better Sleep Without Medication

Insomnia (trouble getting more than three days of restful sleep a week for three out of four weeks) drove Michael Jackson to desperate measures. If it's driving you there too, you're not alone. Sixty-six million North Americans a year have frequent or extended bouts of sleeplessness. We’re here to help—and not in a drug sort of way. Find out what causes insomnia.

To work through your insomnia, GO! to Sleep—a very successful program at—suggests that you:

  1. Exercise regularly. Walking 30 minutes a day relieves stress and helps you sleep. But not too close to bedtime! We aim for 10,000 steps, so buy a pedometer and get walking—early in the day. Here's why exercise earlier in the day helps you sleep better.
  2. Make bedtime comfy. We know some things in life are worth the expense. Two of those things are good pillows and mattresses.
  3. Slow down to help your body relax. Set aside 30 minutes before bed to finish the day’s must-do tasks (10 minutes). Do the hygiene things (10 minutes). Create calm-down time; try deep breathing and/or meditation (10 minutes). Use these tips if you're not sure how to meditate.
  4. Ban bedside digital devices, including TV. Have nothing in your bedroom except the bed, which should be used for only two things. Sleep may come in an easy second. Discover how electronics intrude on your sleep.

Medically reviewed in October 2018.

Still sleepless? Medications, a medical condition or stress could be to blame. Try to identify the problem yourself and work through it. If not a complete success, meet with a sleep specialist or try cognitive behavioral therapy. One-on-one sessions and telephone and group therapy can be very effective.

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