Insomnia Tips from the Experts

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Short term insomnia often resolves with simple changes. Long term insomnia can take longer and might require dedicated effort to get results. These are a few tips to reduce from our sleep medicine experts.

Ian Merrill, M.D. profile

  • Keep out the light with blackout shades or an eye mask
  • Distract the “monkey mind” with audiobooks and earbuds

Morris Chang, M.D. profile

  • Early morning exercise, preferably outdoors
  • Turn the alarm clock around and do not check the time
  • Take a hot bath 60-90 minutes prior to bedtime
  • Keep the room dark, quiet, and cool
  • Sleep apart from a snoring spouse (temporarily)
  • Avoid caffeine 8-9 hours prior to bedtime
  • Avoid taking naps during the day
  • Avoid time in bed while awake

Subhekchya Sharma, ARNP profile

  • Earplugs are wonderful! Use earplugs to block noise

Krista Tannery, PA-C profile

  • Guided meditation for relaxation, anxiety or insomnia
  • Try the app: “OMG I Can Meditate”
  • Do not go into the bedroom or change into your pajamas until it is time for bed

David Margelli, PA-C profile

  • Get regular exercise at least 20 minutes per day at least 2 hours before bedtime

Sarah James, ARNP profile

Practice diaphragmatic breathing at bedtime
  • Inhale through your nose into your lower belly for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath for 1-2 seconds
  • Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds
  • Repeat 5-10 times
Visualize a beautiful relaxing place, focusing on the details you see, hear, and feel to redirect your mind away from stressful or unpleasant thoughts

Julia Kopcak, PA-C profile

  • Avoid getting into bed until you are sleepy
  • If you are still awake in 20 minutes, leave the bedroom and do relaxing, screen-free activity in the light such as reading, word searches, or glistening to soft music. Return to bed when feeling drowsy. Repeat this process if needed.

Darius Zoroufy, M.D. profile

Stop ALL work and all social media for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Do not check email or social media starting an hour before bed until morning
  • Keep your electronic devices out of your bedroom (or disable all notifications)
Reading helps when falling asleep at bedtime and returning to sleep during the night
  • Have a book or a couple of books ready next to the bed
  • If using a traditional paper book, have a reading light that convenient, not too bright and focused to avoid disturbing your bed partner.
  • If using a Kindle (Amazon) or the Kindle app on another device, change the settings to a black background with white text. To change this setting tap the font button (likely labelled “Aa” at the top of the screen) and change the background color. 

Insomnia Resources 

Guided meditation for insomnia helps by focusing cognitive attention, reducing racing and disorganized thoughts and promoting relaxation. “The Honest Guys” is a service with many guided meditation recordings. Find them at:

  • Thehonestguys.co.uk
  • www.youtube.com/thehonestguys

Bright light and blue wavelength light stimulate the brain and internal clock to promote wakefulness. Avoiding bright lights and avoiding light with blue wavelengths is becoming increasingly difficult. Modern LED lighting and LED screens on personal electronic devices are bright and emit bright blue wavelengths.
• Activate “Night Shift” on your Apple iPhone and iPad (see instructions below)
o http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-enable-night-shift-in-ios-9-3/
o http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/29/11326194/apple-night-shift-blue-light-sleep
o
• Install “Twilight” on your Android phone and tablet (see instructions below)
o http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-get-ios-9-3s-night-shift-mode-on-android/