The need is great: untreated insomnia is at the root of many mental health problems, as well as myriad physical conditions, and the sleep deprivation it creates contributes to a larger public health safety dilemma, if one is to look only at the statistics on drowsy driving, workplace errors, and industrial accidents which are the result of chronic sleep loss.
When we talk about nonpharmaceutical treatments for insomnia, we are actually talking about living mindfully, and that means making the most of one’s sleep hygiene and nighttime habits to make sleep more likely to happen.
While some people struggle with sleep because of internal issues like disrupted circadian rhythms or comorbid health conditions, many more are simply practicing poor sleep hygiene that could be contributing to their own problems.
Before you go the route of a sleeping pill (prescribed or over the counter), consider one (or all!) of the following options for resetting your sleep habits.
By and large, these options are inexpensive (or free) and require little skill and time to put into practice. What’s most needed is your commitment to make healthy changes for the better.
Won’t you give some of these a try?
Practicing Mindfulness to #SleepBetterFeelBetter
Sleep Hygiene Tips
APR 20: Self
How Christina Applegate’s Phone Sabotaged Her Sleep
Curator’s note: A great example of using sleep hygiene to conquer insomnia.
APR 18: Self
I Tried 3 Methods for Better Sleep, and Here’s What Worked
Curator’s note: There are myriad “tests” of sleep hygiene applications by ordinary people showing up on the web and, like this one, they prove out the benefits of being mindful in a number of ways. Great observations and advice here.
JAN 20: CNBC
5 tricks to fall asleep when your mind is racing about work
Curator’s note: This includes both text and a video.
APR 7: Psychology Today
The Inside Story of How Slow Breathing Calms You Down
Curator’s note: I’ve been using breathing strategies for decades and recommend them highly. PS, I love this line: “The mice had become chill,” says Krasnow. “They were laid back.”
APR 6: Dr. Steven Park
Why Deep Breathing May Make You Calm
Curator’s note: This well-known respiratory expert reviews a recent column on the subject in The New York Times and adds his own (valuable) two cents.
MAR 22: Sleep Review
New Book About Breathing Yourself to Sleep
Curator’s note: Highly recommended: Breathe Better, Sleep Better
APR 12: The Coffeelicious
10 Thought Pills For The Anxious Mind
Curator’s note: Fantastic graphics and a sense of humor help readers to navigate anxiety and its potential to prevent sleep.
APR 10: HealthPartners
Sleeping through anxiety: How and why your anxiety might be keeping you up at night
Curator’s note: They’ve done a nice job of examining how anxiety can sabotage sleep here and offer some thoughtful approaches for managing it. Also, it’s important to remember that you need to be sure the anxiety isn’t actually caused by another sleep disorder.
DEC 28, 2016: Bustle
9 Simple Bedtime Rituals That Can Significantly Reduce Anxiety
Curator’s note: Good ol’ fashioned sleep hygiene.
APR 2: Daily Local News
Kendal-Crosslands seniors benefitting from meditation program
Curator’s note: Why hasn’t this been done before? Kudos to this retirement community.
APR 2: GoodLifeZen
25 Celebrities Who Meditate And Why You Should Too
Curator’s note: Hey, if it can work them, maybe it can work for you? It never hurts to try.
MAR 27: The Health Site
Meditative and religious retreats good for the brain, mood, sleep and memory
Curator’s note: I know my own personal “silent” retreats have done wonders on all four counts.
APR 19: Positive Psychology Program
Gratitude Journal: 67 Templates, Ideas, and Apps for Your Diary
Curator’s note: A reverse approach—recording gratitudes instead of worries at bedtime—may be a better solution for some trying to calm their thoughts so they can fall asleep.
MAR 30: LifeHacker
When Meditation Doesn’t Work, Try Journaling to Stay Sane
Curator’s note: It’s always good to remind yourself that what works for some may not work for you, and vice versa. What is the harm in trying out every option, anyway?
FEB 25: Shape
All the Ways a Worry Journal Could Make Your Life Better
Curator’s note: This practice works any time of day… why wait until bedtime?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i)
MAR 27: KTVN-2
Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia
Curator’s note: Includes a broadcast interview with a sleep specialist that discusses the basics of CBT-i.
FEB 1: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in a Community Health Setting (abstract only)
Curator’s note: Some recent research on CBT-i.
JUN 10, 2016: Health Central
Revealed: The Thoughts That Are Harming Your Sleep (and What to Do About Them)
Curator’s note: Racing thoughts are a problem that CBT-i can very effectively solve.
The Benefits of Yoga
MAR 3: Yoga Journal
For Athletes, Yoga Can Improve Sleep and Boost Recovery
Curator’s note: Photographs of poses… you can print this out as a bedtime guide, if you like.
FEB 21: Sleep Review
For Athletes, Yoga Can Improve Sleep and Boost Recovery
Curator’s note: There are so many benefits to yoga for athletic performance, and many athletes may be surprised to learn they’ve been practicing yoga stretches and postures as part of their warm-up or cool-down already.
FEB 17: Mind Body Green
Have Insomnia? These Yin Yoga Poses Will Put You To Sleep
Curator’s note: Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
FEB 6: Sleep Review
Massage, Imagery Help with Pain, Anxiety, Insomnia
Curator’s note: If you can add this to your nightly ritual, you’ll be ahead of the game.
DEC 2, 2016: Massage Magazine
Can massage help with our $411 billion sleep problem?
Curator’s note: Now we just need to get insurance coverage for massage to treat insomnia.
OCT, 2016: Healthline
For Some RA Patients, ‘Painsomnia’ is a Real Phenomenon
Curator’s note: Pain is the enemy of sleep, but massage can be your weapon of choice.
Closing Thoughts on Mindfulness
APR 26: Manufacturing.net
Head In The Game: Using Mindfulness To Boost Worker Safety
Curator’s note: Business owners know first-hand the workplace problems that are the result of sleep-deprived employees. This article shows how they can be supportive of workers while off the clock by practicing mindfulness about sleep and wake time.
APR 12: Health News Review
The marketing of mindfulness and why that matters
Curator’s note: Most efforts at mindfulness should not point you into a consumer-focused array of products. Mindfulness can’t be purchased, and most sleep hygiene, meditation, and other sleep-supporting behaviors should cost very little money to achieve.
DEC 6, 2016: Psych Central
Mindfulness and Sleep: Advice from Experts
Curator’s note: Mindfulness is more a 24-7 mindset than a specific practice; it also embraces all the ideas that make sleep hygiene a legitimate goal for those who struggle with sleep.