My 5-Step Formula for Overcoming Insomnia

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Want to know how to cure insomnia? In this post you will learn the 5-step formula that works for me in terms of overcoming insomnia… it might work for you too.

how to overcome insomnia

What I learned from a decade of Insomnia

My first long stretch of sleeplessness started my sophomore year of high school. I’d lie awake in bed, staring at the clock slowly creeping its way closer and closer to my 5:00AM alarm. When morning finally arrived I had to navigate the school day with just a few hours of sleep under my belt.

There’s a scene in Fight Club where Edward Norton’s character is sleeping so little that he’s hallucinating at the office, seeing lights flicker and having visions of Brad Pitt. I’d see strange and disorienting things from time to time, too, imagining aliens in the rearview mirror and mistaking trees for people. I startled my family one evening, screaming when I thought our cat was a ghost flying at my feet. Sadly I had zero visions of Brad!

While my sleep challenges as an adult weren’t quite that extreme, rough patches were still miserable. I followed every pro-sleep tip I came across and strictly controlled my evening and morning routines. It felt like endless trial and error.

There’s a desperation that comes with not being able to fully rest. Many of us who have struggled with sleep feel like we’ve tried it all. We’ve read the sleep hygiene pamphlets from our doctor, guidelines on Web MD, the “Top 10 Million Tips to a Good Night’s Sleep” online, and tried suggestions from our friends.

Some of this advice for how to cure insomnia has worked and some made us feel all the more isolated in the wee hours of the morning. The fact of the matter is this:

The path to better sleep isn’t one-size-fits-all.

There is no simple cure for insomnia. Our needs vary widely, so we may need to search for a while to figure out what works. At the same time, we aren’t alone. Not in the least. 56% of Americans feel that they don’t get enough sleep most nights. Over half of us are on this path!

So it’s with an ocean’s worth of gratitude that I admit I haven’t experienced a long stretch of insomnia in years. It took nearly a decade, but I’ve found what gets me the amount of sleep that my body needs on a consistent basis. Some of it’s little stuff, like caffeine intake and physical activity, but the most effective parts of my sleep formula are deeper.

Overcoming Insomnia: I want to tell you about my formula not because what works for me will necessarily work for everyone (I don’t claim to know exactly how to treat insomnia for everyone) but because it might give you some food for thought if you’re struggling with sleeplessness, too.

These practices work (for me) for overcoming insomnia:

1. Figure out the source.

My sleep struggles stem from a combination of genetics and anxiety. There’s not a lot I can do about DNA (although I do take a sleep medication), but I can definitely manage anxiety. I’m committed to my inner work and yoga, meditation, and therapy have been game changers.

2. Let worry be heard.

I used to think I could ignore stress, but my brain was no fool! As soon as I let my guard down, my subconscious was all over those worries. Now I write down what’s on my mind and why I know I can handle it. Then I close my journal, and bind it shut with an elastic band. The physical action of putting the journal away helps me feel like worry is taken care of for the time being.

battling insomnia

3. Accept sleeplessness.

If it was possible to will yourself to sleep, most of us would have no trouble zonking out. Unfortunately, since sleep is about letting go, shouting “RELAX!!” at ourselves just doesn’t work. Some nights I have to accept that sleep may not come soon. It sounds counterintuitive, but when I stop trying, it’s much easier to let go.

4. Practice self-compassion.

I used to feel hopeless, irritable, and alone when I was desperate for sleep. Now I respond to my own suffering with the kindness I’d offer a friend who was exhausted, too. It helps to repeat a mantra like, “May I be gentle with myself in this moment.” Compassionate self-talk can be deeply comforting.

5. Give it time.

When we’re frantically pursuing sleep we don’t always give new behaviors time to sink in and take effect. So I give every new practice a couple of weeks to become familiar and comfortable before deciding to keep or ditch it. It’s worth the old college try, right?

While our paths to getting better sleep may be different, you’ve got good company for the journey. Give these 100% natural remedies for insomnia a try, I’ve got a feeling sweet dreams are in your future.


Send this post to someone you know has trouble with sleeplessness too… they will thank you for it.

Last Updated on March 27, 2019

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