Do you suffer from chronic insomnia?
Would you like to learn how to fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep?
You’ve come to the right place.
What’s In This Guide?
Table of Contents
I’ve had trouble sleeping on some nights. While I haven’t experienced anything close to chronic insomnia, even a couple of nights of sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on my productivity and moods.
Chronic insomnia, where you have trouble sleeping at least three nights a week for three months, is much worse.
In this guide, I look at some of the most common problems chronic insomnia causes and recommend proven solutions as well as products to help you sleep better.
These products and solutions are also great for those with insomnia that occurs once in a while or acute insomnia (lasting a few days or weeks). They can help your situation from worsening into chronic insomnia.
Common Problems Experienced By People With Chronic Insomnia (With a Few Solutions)
Many of us have experienced sleep deprivation several times, and know how it makes the next day utterly miserable.
Because sleep is so vital to our wellbeing, not getting enough of it comes with many problems. It even affects your health by increasing the risk of various illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
Medical note: As you try some of the solutions below, I highly recommend consulting a doctor if you have chronic insomnia. They can diagnose the root cause of the condition or refer you to a sleep specialist or psychiatrist for additional help.
No Sleep, No Matter How Many Sheep You Count
The most common symptom of chronic insomnia is the sheer difficulty in falling asleep.
There are people who drift off the moment their head hits the pillow (lucky them) and there are those who take a while longer to sleep.
A sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep) of between 5 and 20 minutes is normal. For people with chronic insomnia, it can take from a half an hour to… never.
If insomnia occurs along with other problems like anxiety, you can find yourself still tossing and turning in bed hours after you turned off the lights.
The first thing to do is identify why you have chronic insomnia and address it. That’s where a doctor, sleep specialist, or psychiatrist comes in.
If the cause is medical (e.g. an illness, depression, medication etc.) seek treatment.
If the cause is lifestyle (drinking coffee late in the day, poor sleep habits, stress, alcohol etc.), find a way to address it.
Regardless of the cause, here are a few things you can do to reduce sleep latency & fall asleep faster:
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. An uncomfortable mattress or pillow makes it harder to sleep. If your mattress is due for an upgrade, the WinkBeds Luxury Hybrid Mattress is one of the most comfortable mattresses online.
- Still on the issue of comfort, if you get too hot or cold when in bed, it will worsen your insomnia. Use a mattress pad like the ComfiCloud Cooling waterproof mattress pad to sleep cool or an active bed cooling system like the ChiliSleep Dock Pro to cool or warm your bed.
- Soothe yourself to sleep. Find a technique that works for you. Proven methods include aromatherapy using a kit like the Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser & Essential Oil Set, sleep sounds (a device like the Hatch Restore Sound Machine is better than using your phone in bed) or meditation.
- For people with GERD, symptoms usually worsen when you lie down to sleep. They make it harder to fall asleep. Of on the things you can do to reduce GERD symptoms is sleeping on a wedge pillow like the Kӧlbs Bed Wedge Pillow that elevates your upper body.
Even When You Sleep, You Don't Sleep Well
There are three major reasons why people with chronic insomnia don't get good quality sleep once they doze off, as follows:
- The first, which we’ve already mentioned above, is it takes longer to fall sleep and so don't sleep for the recommended amount of time.
- After you finally fall asleep, however, you don’t get enough deep restorative sleep. One study suggests that most insomniacs experience frequent disruptions to REM sleep, which contributes to daytime fatigue.
- Finally, people with chronic insomnia tend to wake up multiple times during the night and find it difficult to go back to sleep. They spend less time in deep sleep and get few hours of sleep.
The good news is that you can do a lot to improve your sleep environment to make it more conducive for sleep. Buying a more comfortable mattress, maintaining an optimal sleeping temperature in bed, using soothing white noise to block disruptions, managing your lighting, and avoiding the wrong foods and liquids before bed all come to mind.
Lights Keep You Awake
I live in a suburb with street lights close to my house. Even with the bedroom lights turned off, it doesn't get totally dark. This is a problem because I, like most people, sleep best in a super-dark bedroom.
If you already have chronic insomnia, light from the street or other houses can make it harder to sleep and stay asleep.
There are two simple ways to solve this problem.
One, get blackout curtains that block all light, plunging your bedroom into total darkness. The best rated ones we found online are the NICETOWN 100% Blackout Window Curtains.
A less expensive option is to wear a sleep mask to bed. The MZOO 3D Sleep Eye Mask has an innovative shape that blocks all light while keeping your eyes comfortable.
Every Little Sound Wakes You Up
I am lucky I can sleep through a thunderstorm, but some people struggle to sleep if the fan is too loud.
Many insomniacs are highly sensitive to sounds. Anything from the sound of cars outside to the whirring of appliances inside the house affects sleep quality.
You could soundproof your bedroom but that’s impractical for most people and does not protect you from noises coming from the room.
The best solution is to hide the offending noises with a more soothing noise. Sleep sounds not only block unwanted noises, they can also soothe you to sleep.
You can play sleep sounds with your phone, but if you prefer to keep gadgets away from the bedroom, use a sleep sound machine instead. We recommend the Hatch Restore Sound Machine.
Alternatively, you can rely on your phone/apps and play sleep sounds wirelessly via sleep headphones like this Perytong Bluetooth headband.
If sleep sounds are not your thing, you can also reduce noises using comfortable ear plugs like the Loop Quiet Ear Plugs.
Stress and Anxiety Can Worsen Insomnia
If racing thoughts often keep you awake for long, you probably have anxiety. You may also feel wound up, unable to focus, or irritable.
Anxiety and stress can cause or worsen chronic insomnia by interfering with how well and how long you sleep.
In some cases, stress can trigger nightmares that further degrade your sleep quality.
If your stress or anxiety has reached a point of being a serious disorder (e.g. anxiety disorder or PTSD), seek medical treatment and therapy.
For less severe anxiety, there are many ways to calm yourself at bedtime that won’t cost an arm or a leg.
Some people find sleep sounds soothing, others like sleeping to soft music, and some find yoga or meditation before sleep helpful.
Another highly effective solution is a weighted blanket. The weight of the blanket wrapped around your body creates a calming physical sensation that can reduce stress and anxiety, and help with your insomnia. One of the highest-rated weighted blankets we’ve reviewed is the YnM Weighted Blanket.
Chronic Insomnia Can Worsen Pains and Aches
Pain can aggravate chronic insomnia, too – for obvious reasons. Chronic insomnia itself can also worsen any pains and aches you have because you must sleep to heal yourself.
This pain-insomnia loop can make life ever more miserable for several reasons.
- When you can't sleep because of insomnia, you are more aware of pain in your body. This can create the perception of increased pain.
- Lack of sleep can interfere with healing. Pain from an injury or operation can take longer to fade away.
- Sleep deprivation increases inflammation, which can cause or worsen body pains as well as increase your risk of certain diseases.
Managing pains and aches will definitely help reduce insomnia.
If the pain is caused by a health condition like osteoarthritis or cancer, talk to your doctor. They can recommend medication to deal with the pain.
There are also things you can do at home to reduce back pain, neck pain, and other types of pains. Ideas include electrotherapy using a TENS machine, heat and cold therapy, stretching, and massage.
One of the best devices to help with basic muscle fatigue and pain is the Zyllion Shiatsu Massager. It massages various parts of your body and also applies heat for more effective pain relief.
Other Sleep Tips & Solutions For Chronic Insomnia
Top-rated sleep products definitely can help, but there are many other proven things you can do to improve your quality of sleep that don’t involve spending a lot of money. The most proven of these include:
- Adopt healthy sleep habits. These include avoiding caffeinated drinks in the afternoon or evening, not using gadgets 2-3 hours before bedtime, and sticking to a regular bedtime and wake up time.
- CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a proven treatment for insomnia. The best part is that you can do it on yourself. It can also help you manage causes of chronic insomnia like anxiety. Here’s a book that provides step by step guidance on how to do CBT for insomnia.
- While sleeping pills are an effective short term solution, doctors don't recommend relying on them for the long term. Sleeping pills have various unpleasant side effects and can be addictive.
- Instead of sleeping pills, look into natural sleep aids like certain herbal teas like Valerian root, dietary supplements like magnesium and plants like lavender (in the form of tea or oils).
- Keep your bedroom at an appropriately cool temperatur that is ideal for sleep (60-67 degrees F). It makes it easier for your body to relax and sleep. If using your central AC is inefficient, you can get a portable AC for your bedroom that provides more cooling or heating.
- Be more active during the day. Adding exercise to your daily routine can help you sleep better in the evening. Just be careful not to work out too close to bedtime as that could make it harder to fall asleep.
- Avoid daytime naps as much as possible.
- If you find yourself in bed without sleep, don't just stay in bed. Staying in bed struggling to sleep can make you more anxious, which makes it even harder to sleep. Get out of bed and do something else like read until you feel less anxious.
Top 10 Products For People Who Suffer From Chronic Insomnia
If you think your mattress is what’s keeping you awake at night, consider upgrading to the WinkBeds luxury hybrid mattress.
Unlike most mattresses that compromise on some areas (e.g. comfortable but hot, plush but not supportive and so on), the WinkBeds hybrid mattress is a complete package.
The hybrid design, with plush foams on top and pocketed coils at the base, allows the mattress to be pressure-relieving and supportive at the same time.
The WinkBeds mattress starts out with a luxury Euro pillow top that contains gel-infused foam to help with cooling. It’s wrapped in a breathable Tencel cover.
Notably, there’s no memory foam in the pillow top to prevent overheating.
Below the pillow top are multiple layers of foam that contour to your body and provide even support. Then there’s a zoned pocket coil base that provides higher support in your midsection to keep your spine aligned.
The pocket coils, breathable cover and gel-infused foam all work together to disperse excess body heat. If your hot mattress makes it hard to sleep, the WinkBeds mattress is perfect for you.
Something else to note is that the WinkBeds mattress has SleepCalm Motion Isolation technology that keeps couples from waking each other up with movements.
If your insomnia makes it hard to go back to sleep when you wake up, the WinkBeds mattress ensures you stay asleep no matter how much your partner tosses and turns.
The WinkBeds mattress is available in four firmness levels, including a Plus option for heavier sleepers and couples.
The Luxury Firm is the best choice for most sleepers. The ‘Soft’ provides extra pressure relief for side sleepers, and the ‘Firm’ has more support for back and stomach sleepers.
Issues & Limitations
Having four firmness levels is a good thing – you can pick the mattress that’s perfect for you. But, to be honest, knowing which level to go with can be a head scratcher.
Luckily, WinkBeds offers a handy firmness guide on the product page.
WinkBeds accepts returns and exchanges within 120 nights after purchase. Exchanging your mattress for a softer or firmer one costs just $49 and WinkBeds handles all the logistics.
Sleeping hot or cold can trigger or worsen insomnia. A moderately cool temperature between 60 and 67 degrees is ideal for sleep.
The ChiliSleep Dock Pro is the best way to maintain a perfect sleeping temperature all year round. It warms and cools your bed using a series of tiny water tubes while using little electricity.
There are several ways you can maintain your bedroom at a comfortable temperature for sleep. You can adjust the thermostat, get a room heater, or buy a portable air conditioner.
The most efficient option is a bed cooling and heating system like the ChiliSleep Dock Pro.
Because it is heating/cooling just your bed, and not the entire room, the Dock Pro is very effective at maintaining the right temperature while using very little electricity.
Most people using the Dock Pro don't notice a big bump in their electricity bill.
The other great thing about the Dock Pro is that it’ll keep you comfortable all year round since it can warm and cool your bed.
The Dock Pro consists of the main unit (where you add water) and a Chilipad mattress pad containing channels that hold cooled or heated water.
The main unit cools or heats water to the temperature you’ve set then circulates it through the mattress pad to cool or warm you.
You can select a temperature between 55 and 115F, and even set different temperatures for various hours of the night (ideal if you tend to get colder towards the morning).
The Dock Pro not only helps you fall asleep easily, it also helps you stay asleep through the night by maintaining a comfortable temperature.
It can also help if your insomnia is caused by hot flashes or night sweats.
By the way, there’s a dual sided Dock Pro for couples with separate temperature controls.
Issues & Limitations
The ChiliSleep Dock Pro is not cheap. It costs about the same as a good quality foam mattress.
If you are on a budget, consider cheaper ways to cool or heat your bed such as a mattress cooling pad or a heated mattress pad/electric blanket.
That said, I think the ChiliSleep Dock Pro is worth the money. It can make a huge difference in how well you sleep.
The ComfiCloud mattress pad is a low cost way to deal with a hot mattress that keeps you awake at night.
The top fabric of the ComfiCloud mattress pad consists of 70% bamboo and 30% polyester. Bamboo rayon is one of the most breathable fabrics.
And because the ComfiCloud mattress pad is mostly bamboo (many bamboo mattress pads are mostly polyester with a bit of bamboo rayon), it does a great job of keeping you cool.
A lot of customers say it has helped keep their memory foam mattress cool.
It also protects your mattress. The ComfiCloud mattress pad has a waterproof backing, so it also works as a mattress protector.
And don't worry – it’s not noisy like one of those old fashioned mattress protectors.
The ComfiCloud mattress pad looks like a fitted sheet. It secures easily to your mattress. It has an extra-deep pocket that can fit mattresses up to 18” thick, so don't worry if you have an extra-thick pillow top mattress or a mattress topper.
Note: While the ComfiCloud mattress pad feels soft, it doesn't change your mattress firmness. You’ll still enjoy the same amount of support your mattress offers.
Issues & Limitations
If you sleep really hot, experience serious hot flashes, or live in a place that gets very hot summers, the ComfiCloud mattress pad may not be enough to keep you cool.
It’s no match for an electric bed cooling system like the ChiliSleep Dock Pro.
I have tried listening to white noise or rain sounds on my phone to fall asleep faster. But I inevitably end up scrolling on the internet.
Using a sleep sound machine like the Hatch Restore Sound Machine allows you to keep your device safely away. The Hatch Restore has a built-in library of soothing sounds and it also works as an alarm clock and night light.
The Hatch Restore sleep sound machine tackles several problems that are related to chronic insomnia.
The built-in sound library soothes you to sleep at night, it helps reduce anxiety and stress when you go to bed, and it blocks out distracting noises.
The sound library is fairly big. It includes over two dozen sounds including white noise, waves, rain and a few free meditations.
You can access additional sleep sounds including meditations and stories via a subscription membership.
In addition to playing sleep sounds, the Hatch Restore is also a night light. You can cycle through several light colors.
Finally, the Hatch Restore is also a clock. It displays time at the bottom.
What makes the Hatch Restore my favorite sleep sound machine is how much you can customize it via routines.
You can configure your sleep and wake up routine with different sounds and colors. Many users also love the sunrise alarm that gradually brightens the light as your wake up time approaches.
Issues & Limitations
The biggest complaint from users is that they feel the Hatch Restore is overpriced. For what it costs, it should have a much bigger library (without requiring a subscription) and the ability to play your own sounds/music via bluetooth.
Another thing to note is that you still need your phone to use the Hatch Restore sound machine. Some features like routines and alarm are available only via the app.
But once you configure everything, you can adjust basic settings like volume, brightness and snooze using physical buttons on the Hatch Restore.
Natural essential oils are great for aromatherapy because they are safe for your health. You can use them in your bedroom without worrying that the scent will irritate your nose or lungs.
The Ultimate Aromatherapy kit included 10 bottles of different essential oils, each 10ml. But the main component is the ultrasonic diffuser. This is where you add water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s).
The diffuser doesn't use heat to produce a scented mist. Instead, it uses ultrasonic vibration to break the water into a fine mist that spreads around the room. This ensures the essential oils retain their quality.
The ultrasonic diffuser includes ambient light, and you can cycle through several colors. It also has an auto shut-off timer for 1, 3 and 6 hours. So you can leave it on when you go to sleep and it’ll shut itself off.
Issues & Limitations
One important feature lacking is mist control. Depending on the size of your bedroom, the Ultimate Aromatherapy diffuser may be too weak or too strong.
Other than adjusting how many drops of essential oil you add to the water, there’s no way to control the amount of mist and scent it produces.
Blackout curtains are not just suitable for those who find street lights distracting when trying to sleep; they are also great for night shift workers who need to sleep during the day.
The bright outdoors can mess up with your sleep hormones, resulting in chronic insomnia.
The NICETOWN blackout curtains block virtually all the light that hits them. They are made with a thick and soft fabric that feels more expensive than it actually is.
The heavy fabric not only blocks light, it also provides insulation to protect the bedroom from excess heat or cold from outdoors. The NICETOWN blackout curtains also reduce noise from outside your home like traffic or construction.
Each curtain set includes two panels. There are several panel sizes to choose from including an extra large 72*108 inch panel.
Keep in mind that the grommets create pleats when you insert a curtain rod through the curtain. The pleats will reduce the overall width of the curtains.
To avoid leaving gaps on the sides, choose panel sizes that, together, will extend wider than your window.
Issues & Limitations
As with any curtain, there’s a risk that some light may still seep around the sides of the curtain.
Even if you install wide curtains that adequately cover your window, your curtain rod might still limit how far you can draw the curtains beyond the windows.
If this is a major problem for you, consider installing wrap around curtain rods. They allow the curtains to be flush with the wall, blocking out all light.
The MZOO 3D sleep eye mask is an upgrade on regular eye masks. Instead of a flat mask that crushes your eyes, the MZOO mask has cups that go over your eyes.
So you can still blink and open your eyes with the mask on. It’s also more comfortable if you hate the sensation of pressure on your eyes.
The MZOO 3D mask contours to your eyes and nose, ensuring zero light seeps in. A soft elastic strap goes around your head, keeping the mask in place.
You can adjust the strap to get a tighter or looser fit.
The MZOO eye mask is filled with memory foam. So it feels soft and plush against your skin. You can wear it all night without any discomfort.
As for cleaning, hand wash the mask in cold or warm water.
By the way, the MZOO 3D eye mask comes with bonus ear plugs for blocking out noise. You also get a pouch to store the mask in when at home or traveling.
Issues & Limitations
Because of how snugly the MZOO eye mask fits around your eyes, it can feel uncomfortably hot after some time.
It doesn't help that it’s filled with heat-trapping memory foam.
A weighted blanket literally hugs you to sleep. This gentle pressure on your body works wonders for calming your mind, reducing racing thoughts and helping you doze off faster.
Many users of the YnM weighted blanket also say they sleep more deeply and longer. They wake up less often at night, and when they do it's easier to go back to bed.
Several also say the YnM weighted blanket has helped them deal with sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and nightmares.
The YnM blanket contains glass beads, which are safe and noise-free. They are sewn into small baffles to keep them from shifting. This keeps the blanket evenly weighted.
You can choose from several weights and sizes. To pick the right weight for yourself, take 10% of your body weight and add 1lb.
If it falls between two weights, go with the lighter option.
You can also pick from more than a dozen colors and styles.
Unlike most weighted blankets, the YnM blanket sleeps fairly cool. The manufacturer says they use less fiberfill inside the blanket to improve breathability.
It also helps that the blanket is made with 100% cotton, which is highly breathable.
In fact, you may need an extra regular blanket or comforter on top of the weighted blanket during the colder months.
As for cleaning, the recommendation is to hand wash or machine wash. But don't do it too often as it could damage the blanket.
Consider getting a duvet cover for the weighted blanket and washing that instead.
Issues & Limitations
While the YnM weighted blanket sleeps much cooler than polyester weighted blankets, it can still get a tad too warm for those who sleep hot.
Thankfully, YnM has a cooler version for hot sleepers – the YnM bamboo cooling weighted blanket.
Massage relieves pain by relaxing muscles and stimulating blood flow. Heat has the same effect.
The Zyllion shiatsu massager combines deep kneading massage with heat for quick and longer lasting pain relief.
It’s designed to be used on various areas of the body. You can strap it to your body using the built-in straps (perfect for thighs and legs), strap it to a chair and then lean against it (great for neck or back pain), or place it on the bed and lie on it.
The massager uses rotating nodes to massage the target area. They can feel a bit rough at first, but you’ll get used to it.
The nodes will automatically change direction every one minutes.
While enjoying the massage, you can turn the heat function on or off.
The Zyllion massager automatically turns off after 20 minutes to protect against overheating. But that’s all the time you need to relieve pain for the night.
The Zyllion shiatsu massager comes with a car adapter, so you can use it while in the vehicle (but not while driving). Strap it to the seat and then lean against it.
Issues & Limitations
The main issue with the Zyllion massager is its limited customizability. Other than turning the massager and heat on and off, there’s no other setting.
You cannot adjust massage speed, massage direction, heat level or timer.
Our final pick is for insomniacs who struggle with GERD or acid reflux. Sleeping on the Kӧlbs wedge pillow reduces acid reflux, making it easier to sleep through the night.
It can also help with other common causes of insomnia like sleep apnea, stuffy nose, and low back pain.
A wedge pillow is great for a surprising number of sleep problems.
The most common one is GERD. Acid reflux can make it hard to sleep or it can keep waking you up in the middle of the night.
Sleeping on the Kӧlbs wedge pillow raises your upper body, which reduces reflux.
The Kӧlbs wedge pillow also reduces symptoms associated with sleep apnea, which improves sleep quality.
It’s also a great way to relieve a clogged nose and reduce lower back pain.
Another bonus benefit of sleeping on the Kӧlbs wedge pillow is that it reduces snoring. Your partner will sleep better.
The Kӧlbs wedge pillow is made with high density foam topped with a 1.5” layer of soft memory foam. So it feels plush and comfortable against your head and back.
It’s available in two height options: 7.5” and 12” for bigger sleepers.
The wedge pillow is pretty wide; you can turn and toss without falling off. For those with a bigger body, there’s an extra-large option that’s even wider.
The Kӧlbs wedge pillow comes wrapped in a breathable Jacquard cover that you can remove and wash.
Issues & Limitations
Many users note that they tend to slide down the Kӧlbs wedge pillow in their sleep. You find yourself in an awkward position in the morning, sometimes resulting in a sore back or shoulders.
To resolve this, use the Kӧlbs pillow along with your regular pillow (a thin pillow is ideal). Place the pillow under your head to avoid sliding down. It also makes the wedge pillow more comfortable.
Products For People WHo Suffer From Chronic Insomnia: FAQs
Is it okay to take sleeping pills every night?
Most doctors recommend using sleeping pills only as a short term sleep solution. If you have chronic insomnia, sleeping pills are not recommended as they can cause dependency and even interfere with your sleep.
What supplements can help with chronic insomnia?
Some of the best supplements for sleep include magnesium, melatonin, and Kava. Note that there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence that these supplements work – mostly anecdotal evidence.
But most are safe to take (check with your doctor to be sure), so they should not have any negative side effects.
Does CBD oil help with insomnia?
Yes, CBD oil works for some people. It can help reduce anxiety and stress, helping you sleep better.
What is the best cure for chronic insomnia?
The best cure for chronic insomnia involves addressing the root cause of your condition. For most sleepers, lifestyle habits and poor sleep routine are the main cause of insomnia.
Adjusting your lifestyle (e.g. less alcohol, more exercise etc.) and adopting a healthy sleep routine can cure chronic insomnia.
Can my mattress cause insomnia?
Yes, your mattress can certainly mess with your sleep and increase the risk of developing chronic insomnia.
If your mattress is uncomfortable, you’ll struggle to fall asleep. You’ll also not sleep well.
An uncomfortable mattress or pillow can also lead to body aches and pains, further affecting sleep quality.
Making your bed more comfortable is one of the best solutions to chronic insomnia.
How do you block noise and light in your bedroom?
If you live in a noisy neighborhood, the best sleep solution is a pair of earplugs. They are cheap and highly effective at blocking most of the noise.
Alternatively, you could try covering the noise with a soothing sound like white noise, rainfall, or piano.
As for light, there are two options: black out curtains or wearing an eye mask.
As a degreed engineer, I love new technology as much as you do (perhaps more). I also understand how to sort the best products from the rest. My team and I spend dozens of hours each week reviewing the best & latest products for your bedroom. Many are tested in-house, and others we break down based on our technical understanding. Whether you need a bed-cooling system, an adjustable bed, or a new CPAP machine – we've got you covered.