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Arming Myself by Knowing My Insomnia Triggers

Getting to know your insomnia patterns can be tricky, but if you become acquainted with them, you may even learn to recognize insomnia triggers.

Learning to recognize insomnia triggers

It can be a slow process; it certainly was for me. After a lot of trial and error, I now know my triggers and can head some of my worst nights off at the pass. I won’t ever say I can completely avoid a night of tossing and turning and miserable wakefulness, but I can soften the blow somewhat by steering clear of a few things – unfortunately, some that I love.

Foods I now avoid

As much as I love ice cream and a great Greek yogurt, I know better than to indulge myself.


Dairy has caused me many a sleepless night. This seems to be something I grew into instead of out of. Milk products were never an issue when I was a kid, but then neither was insomnia.

It took me a while to sort this 1 out, but once I did, I knew I had to put dairy on hold if I wanted a shot at sleeping more soundly.


This is a big 1. I am not sure why carbs have this effect on me, but I am much less inclined to fall asleep and stay asleep if I eat a big meal with pasta, bread, or potatoes as my last meal before bed. Even if I make sure to eat well before bedtime, I still find myself lying wide awake staring at the ceiling.

Great meal, but sadly not for me anymore.

Stress management

I can’t stop this 1 from appearing and wreaking havoc, but I can head to bed expecting the worst and knowing I will need some extra prep to deal with the long night ahead.

Sleep meditations, my noisemaker, and giving myself time to attempt to get sleepy before actually tucking in for the night go a long way to dealing with the remnants of a stressful day.

Stress is probably my biggest trigger and the 1 with which I have the most difficulty coping – but I do try.

Exercise (the lack thereof, that is)

Never having been 1 to exercise regularly, it took me far too long to put 2 and 2 together on this one. I have always been told that I should just wear myself out and I would get sleepy earlier.

I know I need to do better with incorporating cardio into my day, but I have yet to do so. The more time I spend sitting at work and after work at home, the better my chances are of getting better acquainted with darkness, my old friend.

My arsenal for insomnia

Knowing triggers is just a fraction of the battle when it comes to living with insomnia. Having a small arsenal of things on hand, including strategies, comfort items, and infinite patience is critical. I won’t defeat it, but I can keep myself armed for it.

Are you aware of your insomnia triggers? How do you cope when you feel a bad night looming? Sometimes, learning to recognize insomnia triggers may help. Tell us about it in the comments.

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