Temporary insomnia is inadequate or poor-quality sleep lasting anywhere from one night to a few weeks. Temporary insomnia can be a single episode or recurring episodes of insomnia separated by periods of normal sleep. There are no formal criteria for diagnosing insomnia, and what constitutes sufficient sleep for one person may be inadequate for another. Temporary insomnia may involve difficult falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep (waking up frequently), awakening too early, experiencing unrestful sleep, or a combination of the above.
The following suggestions are intended to help overcome temporary insomnia and maximize the chance of getting a healthy night’s sleep:
- Make your bedroom an inviting place. Keep the room free of clutter and distractions. Be sure you have the right bed and mattress for your needs. The wrong mattress can lead to musculoskeletal problems and sleep disturbances.
- Use the bed only for sleeping and sex. Avoid use of the bed for watching TV, eating, working, or any other activities. If you do wish to use the bed for a bit of nighttime reading, read only pleasure books in bed.
- Therapists often use “reconditioning” as part of a treatment plan for insomnia. With this method, people are “reconditioned” to associate the bed with sleep. If you find yourself unable to sleep at all, get out of bed and move to another room, so that you only associate the bed with sleep and not with wakefulness.
- Establish a regular sleep-wake cycle. Your body will learn to set its internal clock to your schedule and will eventually respond to internal cues to become sleepy at a given time and to awaken at a given time. A good way to begin this is by getting up at the same time every morning, even on weekends.
- Don’t nap. No matter how tempting it may be, an afternoon nap can make falling asleep at night even harder. “Extra” sleep on weekends can also throw off your regular sleep schedule and worsen midweek insomnia.
- Limit your consumption of caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Remember that eating chocolates and drinking cocoa and colas also are sources of caffeine.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Don’t drink any alcoholic beverages in the few hours prior to going to bed. Excessive amounts of alcohol at any time in the day can also disrupt sleep patterns and lead to unsatisfying sleep. Cigarette smoking can also worsen insomnia.
- Fit in some exercise during the day, but don’t exercise strenuously right before bedtime.
- Eat light meals in the evening. Eating heavily in the evening or eating just prior to going to bed can disrupt your sleep.
- Establish a “winding down” ritual in the evenings just prior to bedtime. Try to free your mind of distracting or troublesome thoughts and engage in a relaxing, enjoyable activity like reading, listening to music, or watching a pleasant film.