Beat Insomnia with 15 Lifestyle Changes



Insomnia Strikes again!


Why am I up?

Do these late night/early morning social network post look familiar to you?  Would it shock you to hear that 1500 deaths occur yearly due to drowsiness and it’s not always as a result of alcohol intoxication?  According to NIH National Center on Sleep Disorder Research, 6 to 12% of the adult population struggle with insomnia (inability to sleep).  If you are in the number, I totally feel your frustration. I’ve been there and done that.  As, an overnight worker for the past seven years that had to adjust to sleep disturbances, I’ve tried and tested a number of lifestyle modifications that I professionally recommend to patients.  Insomnia is a top complaint in the pharmacy and most customers desire an OTC recommendation from me.  I’m happy to consult, but I always discuss some of the following first to see if we can detect some preventative efforts on the patient’s part.

#15 Lifestyle Changes to Improve your Sleep Hygiene

  1. Try to eliminate stress factors & implement relaxing activities or if that isn’t an option implement some talk therapy.  If you don’t have a relaxing companion in your household, keep a list of positive Patty types that you can call up to relax your mind before going to sleep.  Euphoria is intoxicating, this works!!!
  2. Keep a routine sleep pattern. Go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time everyday including the weekend.
  3. ONLY use the bedroom for sleep and intimacy, NOT reading, watching TV, checking email, to do list etc.
  4. Make your bedroom sleep friendly.  Set the thermostat to your comfort zone, invest in a comfortable mattress, and eliminate noises (ticking clocks, T.V.s, etc.).
    1. If you like falling asleep with the TV on, set the alarm for the TV to go off after a set amount of time.
    2. If you and your spouse have different TV sleep preferences, try earplugs & eye masks so that you can cohabitate successfully.  That goes for the snoring spouse as well!
  5. Don’t take naps throughout the day.  If you do choose to nap, take either a 30-minute power nap or 3-hour nap otherwise you will awaken from your nap feeling restless just like the people I’m writing this for.
  6. ROUTINE EXERCISE;) Of course, this improves your sleep patterns, get to it! Make sure it’s not too late in the evening.  A good guide would be to finish up at least 3 to 5 hours before bedtime.
  7. Eliminate Substance Abuse
    1. Alcohol and nicotine should be avoided in the later part of the evening.  Alcohol makes several people drowsy but it actually can have rebound effect and cause you to awaken very early in the morning.
    2. Caffeine that we all love to hate can stay in your system for up to 14 hours, so lunchtime at best should be your last sip on the tea or coffee or in my case Dr. Pepper!
  8. Spend time outside during the day being exposed to light.
  9. Refrain from drinking fluids the last hour before bedtime to prevent bathroom breaks throughout the night.
  10. Shower and brush your teeth every night before going to bed.  You will be more comfortable and relaxed and your partner will appreciate it;)
  11. Don’t go to sleep hungry or full.  Eat a light snack if it’s close to bedtime and you are still a little hungry.  Make sure you don’t eat foods that have proven to give you nightmares or indigestion.  Keep a bottle of water on the nightstand, if you wake up thirsty, you don’t have to walk all the way to the kitchen which will cause you to have a harder time falling back to sleep.
  12. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up, leave the bedroom and do something and try again.  I have a plan B resting area.  Sometimes it just requires a change of location.
  13. Pillows! A pillow between the legs can assist your comfort in falling asleep.  There is a very interesting pillow companion on the market in the shape of an L that you can give a try.
  14. If you have a newborn baby, HANG IN THERE:), this is only a season! Most definitely try to sleep when the baby is sleeping.
  15. Jet Lag can cause temporary insomnia.  Try to plan vacations and business departures and returns to allow for the appropriate adjustments back to your regular schedule.

BONUS TIPS for my Fellow Swing/overnight Shift Workers

  • Try to have as normal a day as possible. Schedule breakfast, lunch, dinner, & exercise as part of your regular routine
  • Black out the windows in the sleeping room with special light darkening shades &/or use a sleep eye mask (if you live alone and are Type A/control freak like me, this will not work, stick to the shades on the windows)
  • Set firm guidelines for spouses and children for not interrupting your designated sleep time (conversely to ease your guilt of quality time, schedule that also even if it’s just a meal or 30 minutes of “play time”)
  • Try to avoid sleeping in the early morning (7:00-10:00am); your body’s natural circadian rhythm will be fighting extremely hard on this one. Research shows and I will co-sign that your body will find it easier to go to sleep and stay asleep if you operate just as if you worked a 9 to 5 traditional job.
  • Set an alarm to remind you to PREPARE to go to sleep/(wind down) at the same time and stick to it.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of people working traditional hours.

Are you wondering if you suffer from insomnia? 

It could take you an abnormal length of time to fall asleep, you are not getting a good 6 to 8 hours of sleep, wake up frequently throughout the night, very early in the morning, or you describe your sleep as having a rough night.  The bottom line, if your daytime functioning is suffering and you feel it is associated with your sleep pattern, then you fall into the category of sleep disorders. You can utilize the above tips for healthier sleep patterns and hopefully a better quality of life.  Sleep is a huge determinant on our daily efforts to lose weight, stay fit, produce efficiently on our jobs & activities, and in our households.  I hope these help!  If they don’t, consult your pharmacist for an OTC recommendation. For most patients, simple lifestyle modifications will enhance their sleep pattern. Some patients, however are actually experiencing insomnia for other healthcare reasons or as a result of taking another medication.  Those individuals will need to discuss with their primary doctor how to take care of that issue.

Sweet Dreams!

Rx Fitness Lady is curious…

  1. Which of these lifestyle modifications do you think will be your biggest challenge to overcome?
  2. What other solutions/products have you found other than medications that help with insomnia?
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Rx Fitness Lady

Greetings, I'm Joi, a Pharmacist with a passion for fitness & a community leader. I teach BODYCOMBAT, BODYPUMP, Tabata Boot Camp, & serve as a mentor to young girls. My goal is to inspire people to live healthy, active, & prosperous lifestyles through practical blog posts deliveries. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram. You can view more post and subscribe to stay tuned to latest updates at Rx Fitness Lady.

39 thoughts on “Beat Insomnia with 15 Lifestyle Changes

    • Yes, that is very hard! It’s harder for me to go to sleep on time when the alarm goes off as opposed to waking up at the same time.

  1. I really enjoyed your site. I read all of it. The sky is not the limit. I have heard there were footprints beyond the sky, go for it my first borned Angel!

  2. From a pharmacist’s standpoint, the non-pharmacological treatments listed in this article for insomnia were great. I personally can attest that drinking too much caffeine will definitely disrupt a normal sleep pattern. I work the night-shift and am going to try the advice of not going right to sleep in the early morning, to see if I can get better, uninterrupted sleep. Thanks Joi, for your input.

    • Hey girl! Thanks for co-signing! Good luck with swinging your sleep around. I think you will see a difference in that uninterrupted sleep for sure. Please let me know how it works out when you try it out.

  3. Very informative. Thankfully I don’t have a problem with insomnia, but I could still use some of these tips. Great ideas!

  4. I am going to try some of these tips. I have only been on the overnight shift for three months and it is taking a toll. Thanks for the tips.

    • Hi Derrick, You’re Welcome! Thank you for visiting. It took me a while with lots of trials and errors to figure out what worked best considering all quality of life issues. I found that some things have to be sacrificed. It will take some getting used to but hopefully some of the tips will prove to increase your transition to the night owl crew! Please let me know how it works out for you.

  5. I definitely have a problem with insomnia and I don’t have an overnight job. I’m going to work at some of these tips and see which ones work for me. I think the hardest one for me will be going to sleep at the same time everyday and using the bedroom only for sleeping. I do a lot of homework reading and or tv in there. Thanks Joi these are some great tips.

    • Hi Ursula! Yes, it will take some time to test and figure out what exactly we are doing to prevent good sleep hygiene, but it is so worth it once you do. Sleep is so important to our daily life activities. I know bedrooms are comfort zones but girl, try to find another place…you have a LOT going on in the bedroom:) I’m glad you liked the post, I hope you will subscribe. Thank you for visiting Ursula, Happy New Year!

  6. I never knew alcohol kept could cause you to awaken early! These tips are not just tips! They’re an outline on how to go about your day. And let’s get on this here Dr. Pepper. With that physique, I would’ve never guessed that soda was in your vocabulary. It shows that with a personal commitment to fitness you can have those not-so healthy treats occasionally. I dig…

    • Yes ma’am soda is not the only thing in my vocabulary. This blog is not written by a health and fitness angel:) We are all in this together. I always feel that if you take everything away cold turkey then you are destined to fail. You have got to leave some room for guilty pleasures! I’m glad you can outline your day with my Insomnia post:)

  7. Great blog! Very informative! Being a college student, I often suffer from insomnia so I appreciate the tips! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  8. I swear you hit the nail dead on head. This post brought back so many memories of trying to overcome insomnia. I tried it all TWICE during my 5 year overnight working position. When it boils down to it all the lifestyle modifications helped a little, but was never 100 % successful until I incorporated exercise as a modification. There are many people who suffer from insomnia, but not too many people who know how to combat this disorder. This post is very informative, and very true. You would love to know I referred an employee at the health dept to this sight after hearing her complain of insomnia just hours ago. Joi your post are Informative and inspirational just as you are. I have learned a lot from u over the years, and I see right now that I have a lot more to learn. I appreciate the knowledge, and really enjoy the blog.

    • Zandis!!! What a sweet comment. I have enjoyed learning with you over the last 10 years my dear, we are vets baby! Thank you so much for taking time out to comment, co-sign, add more, & share to others. Love ya girl! So glad you like the blog.

  9. I love the tips and tricks to try that don’t require more medications!! My husband works swing shift – I will definitely share these tips with him, also!! Thanks for all your wonderfully helpful words of wisdom!!

    • EXACTLY, we have to get ourselves together before jumping to medications. I hope your husband can find some better rest utilizing something from here. Thank you for visiting Askia!

  10. I can never seem to go to bed at the same time each day. There was a point were I was, but something happened…not sure what that something was. Although I prefer working out in the mornings, I always sleep like a baby when I have my evening workouts.

    • Gurl!!! That Sunday after church nap is a tough one to skip over, especially if you made it to Sunday School:) It was a pleasure! I hope it was in line with what you were looking for. So many people neglect sleep which is a major part of their health and contributes to their weight loss efforts.

  11. Wake up very early and I knew it was and issue, but I did not know how much until I read this article so I plan to implement some of the techniques that you shared in your blog.

  12. I actually had insomnia for a while. I was so you too – about 20. I was working a full-time job and going to cosmetology school Monday thru Friday evening and on Saturdays. At night I would have a hard time getting my body to shut down. I would listen to a cassette tape of someone talking. I forget what you call that. But I would wake up again with the tape ended and the button popped up. I tried everything (so I thought) (except sleeping pills). My mom wouldn’t let me do that. I never exercised and I probably had eaten late. It all had to do with stress and when I finished school I was able to sleep again.
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted…Sniffs & Whiffs…My Profile

    • Well I’m glad you found a regular pattern. Some people struggle desperately with Insomnia and it’s not a good feeling. I’ve been so tired and couldn’t sleep that I’ve cried before, SMH!

  13. I was excited when I saw this post, hoping I might find a new trick, but alas, I’ve tried them all! I’ve been an insomniac since back in my junior high school days. I’m lucky if I can get four-five hours in a night. Can’t shut my brain off – the only thing that works for me at all is turning on a movie or TV show I’ve been before so I’ll eventually tune it out and drift off. Something new will keep me up – same with a book, and music I just sing along to LOL. It seems to be genetic – we jokingly refer to ourselves as a family of vampires as it would not be unusual to run into someone else up at 3 am. 🙁 [#TALU]
    Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe recently posted…Finish This Sentence Friday …My Profile

    • I’m sorry to disappoint you Chris. I hope that you have sought medical attention for that. Lifestyle changes is first thing but surely a pill should help you rest more that 4 to 5 hours. I feel so sorry for you. I can’t stand when I can’t sleep.

  14. You definitely covered all the essentials, and then some, Joi. I know stress is a big factor, and being online too. I try to close shop, so to speak, around 10:00, but maybe I need to push it back a bit to 9:30. We’ll see… And you’re right, exercise does help a lot.
    Alison recently posted…The Insomnia WarMy Profile

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