1. Have a 'nightcap' before bed
Do you unwind with a glass of wine or a scotch and soda before bed? “The literature shows that alcohol is the most abused drug for insomniacs,” says Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS “It’s the single worst remedy you can use.” Adds Michelle Drerup, MD, “Drinking alcohol may make you feel drowsy. ut as it wears o , it fragments the natural stages of sleep.” Despite alcohol’s quickly sedating effect, when it’s metabolized a few hours later, it causes recurrent awakenings. Your deepest stage of sleep — REM (rapid eye movement) — is suppressed. Drinking alcohol near bedtime may also worsen snoring and sleep apnea.
2. Bring electronics to bed with you
Your bed is not the right place for smartphones, tablets or laptops. “Lying in bed and ‘trying to sleep’ by playing games, checking your email, reviewing bank statements or paying bills online will backfire on you,” says Tina Waters, MD. The “blue” light from electronic devices prevents the release of melatonin from the brain’s pineal gland, preventing sleepiness. “Adolescents may be even more vulnerable to this effect than adults,” notes Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer.
3. Rely on antihistamines
Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) sure make you drowsy. But they’re not a long-term solution for insomnia.
“Antihistamines may help you get to sleep. But they accumulate in the brain over time, causing grogginess and even cognitive impairment the next day,” cautions Harneet Walia, MD.