From HuffPo, a suggestion from stress management author  Debbie Mandel, from Chinese herbal medicine:  “Put feet in a pot of hot water for one minute and then alternate in pot of cold water for 30 seconds. Do this three times.  This releases toxins from your feet — …   The heat circulates the blood and the cold water reduces the swelling. The cold pulls out toxins in the contractive phase and the heat brings blood and nutrients in the expansive phase.”

Can’t hurt.


 Vick’s Vapor Rub on the bottom of the feet, and then put on socks—this also from the Huffington Post.

 Here’s something I read in, A.J. Jacobs,  “Random Sleep Trick No. 17: Alternative Sheep-Counting:”  “Counting sheep is a crock,” and mentions a 2002 Oxford study that shows it actually delays sleep onset.   But he (she?) has found “ a mental trick…  I invented it myself, but I offer it free here — no trademarks, no royalties. My qualifications: I used to be an insomniac whose mind raced, brooded, and obsessed as I lay in bed. No more. Here it is:

Step 1: Choose a color.

Step 2: Brainstorm a whole bunch of objects that are that color. If you chose green, you can think of green leaves, green beans, green Jets football helmets. And on and on.

Step 3: You must brainstorm in categories. First think of green foods: broccoli, seaweed, the Shamrock Shake. Then move on to green animals: lizards, parrots. Then come up with phrases that have the word green in them: the Green Monster, green with envy, the Green Party,” etc.

It sounds like a lot of effort to me, and effort wakes me up—but if it works for Jacobs, it might work for somebody else.

  Esquire, March 25, 2008


AURICULAR THERAPY, stimulating points of the outer ear with seeds or needles.   Ear seeds, tiny black seeds of the Vaaccaria plant, are affixed to various points of the ear.  One woman says that pressing on the seeds “throughout the day has improved her sleep to the point that she can’t live without them now.” 

Camille Sweeney, “A Traditional Therapy Finds Modern Uses,”


Along these lines, a reader who’s had serious insomnia was using a WRIST DEVICE to monitor her sleep—when she found herself sleeping better.  She thinks she may have happened on a pressure point that brings on sleep.  She’s skeptical, but she passes this along:   

…am still sleeping better (not good by normal standards).  If you can buy a  wide Velcro’s  watch strap and wear it on your left arm just 3 inches short from you wrist, quite tight.  I am sure it can’t be the strap that has changed my sleep but try it (I wouldn’t suggest such a nutty idea to anyone else but I know you have tried some dumb things before!).  If it works we’ll patent them and  laugh all the way to the bank!

 A man who interviewed me for a radio show told me that electromagnetic pollution is  a disruptor of sleep.   There have been studies about cell phones disturbing sleep.

A device called the COMFORT CLOCK claims to stabilize the destabilizing energies that come from electromagnetic fields.

 Richard Shane, who has suffered from insomnia himself, devised a SLEEPEASILY method that he claims can help calm the heart.  You know that change in breath that happens just as you’re about to fall asleep?  His method teaches  you to bring this physiological change on, and thereby induce sleep.   He makes a lot of sense.

 One study found that babies snugly blanketed (swaddled) sleep longer and wake less often than babies who aren’t.  There is even a “swaddler/sleep sack” you can buy, “created after the inventor watched her daughter suffer countless sleepless nights because of the involuntary startle reflex, known as Moro Reflex.”  Maybe grown-ups need SWADDLING, too.  I talked to a woman who told me that wrapping herself tightly in blankets helped her sleep.  Maybe anything that makes us feel less free-floating in the universe is a help. 

 Things I tell myself:   “You can rest now,” I repeat this, like a mantra.  “The day is done, no more work, you did good.”  Okay, I maybe not so great, but forget that for now— be kind to yourself, the day is done, you can rest.  

 It sometimes works.  Almost.

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  1. I just found your website after the second sleepless night this week. I am profoundly grateful and feel less alone. I am now in my mid-fifties and I have suffered from periodic insomnia since my twenties. My variety is the mind-racing/can’t turn it off type. I look forward to reading your book and also appreciate your many links and the comments from others. I wonder if insomnia is hereditary. My 18 yr. old son also has great difficulty falling asleep.

  2. After many years I have stumbled upon my own cure. I’m sharing this in case it can help others.
    My insomnia is of the type that I can fall asleep quickly but then I wake up and stay awake for the rest of the night. There are two aspects of my insomnia: there’s the sleeplessness and then there’s the restless mind mulling over problems that can’t be solved by fretting over them at 3 a.m. This second part is what I solved first (if it isn’t an issue for you, skip to THE KEY.)
    Through trial and error I developed a mind-game to calm my thoughts. The content varies but it must have two particular elements. First: there must be a structure or pattern, so it’s easy to slip back into if my mind wanders. Second: the content must not trigger extraneous thoughts. (The particular content must be completely individual, but for the purpose of example, I describe two of my mind-games at the end of this post.)

    THE KEY. It’s too long and boring to describe how I stumbled on this one, but take my word for it and give it a try.
    This is what I do. I get up at dawn, get out of the house and do some serious exercise for an hour: walking up hills, swimming laps, riding my bike, kayaking.
    That’s it – that’s all I do and now I sleep through the night.
    You’ll notice I described a variety of exercise, otherwise I’d get bored and stop. It’s essential to do exercise I like. There’s no way I would ever go to a gym, but the gym may be just perfect for you.
    There are a few extra things that helped me as well. Read on if you’re interested.
    I make sure I eat coloured vegetables and fruit every day. That means I can eat whatever junk I like, I just eat the good stuff as well. I don’t drink gallons of alcohol. That doesn’t make me a cat’s-bum-mouthed teetotaller, it just means I drink less: (10 standard drinks is what it’s called in Australia – google it.) And no coffee after lunch. I lurrrve coffee, so I just have a nice big fat one at breakfast and leave it at that.

    If you’re thinking at this point, ‘I’m not getting up at sparrow-fart to do an hour of bloody exercise. Sunrise is the time when my body finally decides to go to sleep – forget it!’ I couldn’t agree more. (I felt like death warmed up getting out of bed for the first week, until my body adjusted and flipped the sleep switch on.)
    There’s nothing worse than getting up at first light and working up a sweat – oh yeah, except lying awake all night and going out of my freaking mind. That’s what gets me up each day.

    More on the mind games.
    The games helped me to be relaxed and less stressed in my sleepless state and enabled me to snatch an hour of sleep here and there.
    The important thing is I don’t need these games any more (unless I’m trying to get over jet-lag). I played the games for two years before I hit on the exercise bit.
    Mind game #1
    I was part of a tap-dancing group and as I had never done it in childhood, learning the dances took a lot of concentration. So each time we learned a new dance I’d go over the moves in my mind when I was trying to get back to sleep. The game worked because it focused on mechanical movement rather than ideas. So to play this game yourself, find a parallel physical activity of some complexity and think through the moves.
    Mind game #2
    This is a bit more eccentric, but I memorised a list of one hundred objects (I did it originally to occupy my mind while I was swimming laps). I go through the list to soothe my mind for sleep.

  3. Dear Gayle,

    I read your book cover-to-cover (even all of the notes!) back in 2010. I appreciated the way you detailed your journey. I connected with so much of what you said, as I too have experienced lifelong insomnia; I can’t remember a time even as a child when I slept easily.

    What I recently discovered that worked for me: wearing “orange” glasses (actually UV filter, U60) a couple of hours before bedtime that block out “blue light” from TV and computer screens and even regular light bulbs. Actually in my bedside lamp, I installed a $5 orange light bulb. AND right when I wake up, I turn on a full-spectrum lamp and relax under it for about 15 to 20 minutes.

    I also use white noise from a humidifier AND/OR listen to a relaxing CD to help me go to sleep. The ones I use are based on EMDR by Dr. Mark Grant, using a guided meditation and binaural tapping, and I just play it on repeat for a few hours. For some reason, having a focal point helps my mind stop racing as much.

    The question I wanted to ask was whether anyone had any experience with a “pulsed electromagnetic field therapy” device such as EarthPulse. I haven’t looked into it yet, but it sounds quite similar to the “transcranial magnetic stimulation” mentioned on your site. I would love to hear from anyone who has had some experiences with these devices, and whether or not it actually works.

    Thanks again for providing a “soft place to fall” for those of us more used to “hard nights.”

  4. This last bout of insomnia has been one of the worst for me. It started last Tuesday where I started falling asleep around 3AM for about 3 hours. One day I didn’t sleep at all. This has been going on for nearly a week. It’s Monday morning around 4:15am and still no sleep yet. I tried to start PX90 yesterday hoping it would help me sleep but it didn’t. I think my sleep cycle is messed up now and that’s part of the problem. The other past is that I get so stressed out now when I go to bed, plus I’m so tired that I can’t focus on doing anything to get me to relax. I’m also too tired to wake up every 15 or 20 minutes like you’re supposed to. I’m perimenopausal but I think this bout has more to do with anxiety. For those of you who are perimenopausal I read that magnesium, calcium, postassium, and DHA are helpful. I am just so tired. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  5. New idea, might be worth trying: epson salts bath. I’ve done these a couple of times, recommended for aches and pains, it is definitely relaxing. But the other day I stayed in the bath overlong and went out in the evening, and I realized it was a mistake–I was really knocked out. Then i went on line and read, you should allow time to rest afterward. Well, I thought, this is worth following up on, trying a long epson salts bath just before bed. I bet it would help.
    This is a spinoff on from Katherine’s comment, above, that magnesium is helpful–you apparently get a big dose of magnesium from these baths.

  6. Your article portrays everything about insomnia treatment. I find this very useful and informative.

  7. Just offering as an option our new product called Sleep Easily. Sleep Easily is a proven method to help the 1-in-3 people who suffer from insomnia. It’s not hypnosis or meditation—it’s a simple technique. Quickly learned through audio recordings and written material, it teaches you five specific physical triggers you can use to fall asleep. Many people report they sleep better their first night!
    Check it out

  8. There are some very good techniques outlined in this post. I think that if you suffer from any type of sleep disorder then you should try different things. The thing that works for one person may not work for another. If you do find something that works then you should share it with others to show that even the smallest things can sometimes mean the difference between a good nights sleep and tossing and turning all night.

  9. Another great option is setting up a routine for winding down. I know a huge thing for me is to put away my iPhone, and let my brain relax.

  10. I have been using Hemp Oil and it has helped ease my Insomnia a lot. I suggest one should definitely give it a shot.

  11. Foods that may cause insomnia?
    According to Almaz Rabb these foods have the potential to cause insomnia; 1. Red Meat-Your body works harder to digest meals high in protein therefore eating such meals at night may increase your metabolism which may keep you awake. 2. Spicy Foods-especially at night may lead to indigestion and irritation which could disrupt your sleep. 3. Drinking liquids later in the evening-which could lead to urination during your sleep and 4. Drinking alcohol-can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle.

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