What can I do to prevent insomnia?

In order to prevent insomnia, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. Keep your room dark and cool at night and avoid reading, watching television or using the computer in bed. Avoid napping during the day and do not sleep in the same bed as pets or children. Avoid caffeine or energy supplement intake past noon and try to limit overall caffeine intake to one or two beverages per day, if possible. You may choose to use white noise, such as a running fan, to decrease the chance that household noises will keep you awake.

Depending on the cause of your short-term insomnia, it may be possible to prevent it. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause insomnia. If you think your medication might be the problem, talk to your doctor about alternative medications. It may also be helpful to make lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, keeping regular hours, working during the day, being active, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Sleeping in a dark, quiet place may also help you avoid insomnia.

Dr. Michael Breus, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Here are some tips to help lower your risk of insomnia and protect your sleep—and your health:

  • Track your sleep. Being mindful of your sleep patterns is the best way to catch and treat any sleep problems early, before they become more entrenched and difficult. Keeping a journal or a log can help—keeping regular track of bedtimes and wake times, as well as how you feel in the morning when you wake up, can give you a clear picture of how you’re really sleeping.
  • Exercise. Physical activity is good for your heart, your overall health and your sleep. There’s also evidence that it helps alleviate insomnia.
  • Manage your stress. Easy to say, right? This can be among the most important things you do to help your health and your sleep. Mind-body activities such as meditation, yoga, even massage, can help.
  • Talk to your doctor. Take that sleep journal with you to your next checkup, and have a real conversation with your physician about your sleep—before it becomes a problem. Undiagnosed sleep disorders like insomnia put you at risk for heart problems and other health complications. Talking with your physician can be a first important step toward sleeping—and feeling—better.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.