Strategies for Staying Sane: Beating Insomnia

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


Betty’s poor sleep habits were getting her down. She took sleeping pills and tranquilizers from time to time, but hated to rely on pills ~ especially habit-forming drugs. She was not aware that some simple methods of “sleep hygiene” could be of enormous help to her.


Almost everyone has occasional trouble sleeping. In fact, most people will have at least one bout of significant insomnia at some point during their lives.

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While most episodes of insomnia are brief and self-limiting, in some cases insomnia is a sign of some underlying emotional, social, or even medical problem. If you suffer from persistent insomnia, a medical consultation is recommended.

Fortunately, the vast majority of insomnia sufferers can be helped simply by following seven guidelines of good sleep hygiene:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening.
  • Make sure to get plenty of regular exercise such as walking, but be careful not to overdo it.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex ~ so avoid watching TV, eating, or even reading in bed.
  • Unless they disagree with you, eat moderate amounts of foods rich in the sleep promoting amino acid tryptophan, such as poultry and milk.
  • Try to keep the temperature of your bedroom on the cool side since excessive heat often interferes with deep, sound sleep.
  • Stick to a consistent pattern of sleep time. Don’t throw your body out of synch with erratic bed and wake times. So, as tempting as it might be to sleep in on weekends, don’t do it if you’re not sleeping well on week nights.
  • And very importantly, don’t force yourself to try to sleep.

The last point is very important. If you can’t fall asleep fairly quickly, get out of bed and do some non-strenuous activity, like reading in a comfortable chair, or playing a few rounds of solitaire, until you feel sleepy, then return to bed.

If these simple guidelines don’t help within a few nights, consult your family doctor or a qualified mental health specialist.


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus & Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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