When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Put You Sleep…


Night after night, you lay awake, afraid to look at the glowing clock in your bedroom. You know that within a couple of hours, your iPhone alarm is going to ring, alerting you it is time to get ready for work. You are at your wits end. When counting sheep doesn’t put you to sleep, what will?

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition where you may have trouble falling asleep, waking up early, or a combination. You may wake up not feeling rested and may find yourself falling asleep during the day. Sleep is an important need of the body. Lack of sleep can trigger seizures or migraines. The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is 7-9 hours for teens 8-10 hours and for school-age children 9-11 hours. In order to properly treat and cure your insomnia, you need to become a sleep detective. Emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression cause half of all insomnia cases, but your daytime habits, sleep routine, and physical health may also play a role. Try to identify all possible causes of your insomnia.

What Are Some Common Causes of Insomnia?

Causes of insomnia include:

  • Short/Long Term Stress
  • Medical Condition
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lifestyle

Initial Interventions

Keep track of the following factors by filling out a sleep log for 3 weeks

  • Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine
  • Exercise or physical activity
  • How long did it take you to get to sleep?
  • Did you wake up during the night?
  • Did you feel rested when you awoke?

Sleep Hygiene

Certain lifestyle practices and your environment play a role in sleep hygiene. You can control the following factors and the creation of a sleep routine. Following a sleep hygiene plan should be tried prior to medications for dealing with insomnia.

  • Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol prior to bed. Caffeine can stay in your system for 7 hours.
  • Avoid nicotine
  • Establish a sleep routine
  • Don’t go to bed hungry but avoid a heavy meal within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Go to bed the same time every night and wake up at the same time.
  • Avoid watching television or being around bright lights or electronic screens 30 minutes prior to bed.
  • Use the bedroom for sleep and sex.
  • Avoid daytime napping
  • Give yourself time to unwind and relax prior to going to bed.
  • Create an environment for sleep: set a comfortable temperature that you can change with blankets, darken the room, and/or use earplugs.

Additional Measures

So, when counting sheep doesn’t put you to sleep, it is usually stress related. Stress management techniques like deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation can be helpful. Counseling for anxiety may provide additional ideas to reduce your stress. Other ideas include a warm beverage, a back massage, or taking a warm bath prior to bed. Sometimes placing a splash of lavender aromatherapy next to your pillow might be helpful. Additionally “Sleepy Time Tea” or chamomile tea can be

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