July 22, 2015


General Health


If you’re like me, then you are possibly missing a few ZZZ’s nightly and have the same thought every morning– “5 more minutes, please!”

I’ve struggled with sleep issues since my sophomore year of college. I started not being able to sleep one night and didn’t think much about it. The same thing happened a few days later, and I chalked it up to stress over exams, projects, and making sure my social schedule was being filled. As the weeks went on and my sleeplessness was becoming a habit, the days without sleep were more frequent than the nights with sleep. Cue: irritability, unhealthy eating, fogginess, not exercising, syncopal episodes and just a general “always feeling like crap” feeling.

Fast-forward 8 years, (sheesh I’m old) and I still have struggles with sleeplessness, but have developed a game plan and routine that keeps me closer to my sleep goals. I work with my primary care physician to get things rolling, and feel I now have a decent handle on my insomnia.

Let’s back track a bit here. EVERYONE knows you are supposed to get 7-9 hours, but do you know why it’s vital to get quality sleep each night? I’ll admit that I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to my sleep patterns until it started affecting my daily health, and after speaking with my physician and doing my own research, I made a conscious effort to change my sleep habits.

Some of the scary side effects from insomnia can include:

  • Fogginess/Grogginess
  • Increased risk for various diseases (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke)
  • Slowed response (think driving = increase risk for accidents)
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • General “tired” look (bags under your eyes, diminished color in your face)
  • Weight gain (*I can attest that this is VERY true)
  • No bodily recovery


I cannot tell you though how FRUSTRATING it was/is to have people look at you and say “well, just get more sleep” or “I don’t have any issues getting sleep every night”. I would go on a limb and assume that the majority of individuals who deal with insomnia on a consistent basis are not exactly thrilled about having this disorder, and it isn’t as easy as “laying down and sleeping”. Many times, there are underlying reasons why an individual cannot sleep, but trying new routines and tactics to re-train your brain/body can be helpful in getting back on track.

Some of the best suggestions I have come across (and used many) for helping you to get a restful night sleep include:


  • Go to bed at the same time
    • Start to wind down 30-45 minutes prior with routine
  • Establish routine before bed
    • Relaxing
      • Yoga
      • Meditation
      • Reading
      • Bubble bath
      • Relaxing music
      • Guided imagery
  • Making sure the room is dark
    • Use room-darkening shades
    • Close doors if necessary
    • Watch nightlights (great for safety, however, it may be enough to keep you up)
  • Limit/remove electronics
    • Silence cell phones
    • Turn phone over so texts/emails/updates don’t wake you up
    • Turn clocks around
    • Don’t use tv prior
  • Keep bedroom at a cool temperature
  • Make a list of things on your mind, that way you can address the next day

Other tips and tricks that you can do throughout the day that may help include:

  • Limit caffeine
  • Limit alcohol
    • Contrary to popular belief, that glass of wine may not be the best for you before bed, as alcohol distorts the type of sleep you get, and may make it a more ‘broken-up’ sleep
  • Limit tobacco
    • Can have a stimulant effect such as caffeine
  • Exercise
    • For some people, exercising too close to bedtime can rev them up
    • Exercise early enough during the day
  • Watch meals too close to dinner time
    • Sleeping with a giant meal in your belly can be a hindrance

Your doctor can also give suggestions for the best OTC medications or prescription medications that can help you get a good night’s rest also—ask him/her for suggestions!

You owe it to yourself to try a new routine and to get some ZZZ’s.

Until next time!