If you've had bouts of short-term insomnia in the past, you can probably predict when it's likely to happen again. The first thing to do is to stop anticipating trouble. Worrying about insomnia only makes insomnia worse. Here's what else you can do to avoid sleepless nights.

1. Get more exercise.  Earlier in the day, take an extra walk, go for a run, ride your bike, or go swimming. If you normally work out at a gym, add some extra minutes to your usual routine.

2. Avoid eating or drinking after dinner. Stay away from food and beverages within a couple of hours of going to bed. At the same time, however, hunger can make it difficult to fall asleep. If that's the case, have a light snack, such as a glass of milk or a banana.

3. Limit caffeine and alcohol or avoid them altogether. If you must have a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea, do so only early in the day. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours.

4. Don't nap. If you absolutely must doze off during the day, set an alarm and keep it to just 10 or 15 minutes. Otherwise, napping can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.

5. Establish a routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. Stick to this routine even on weekends so that your body stays on schedule.

6. Write it down. Insomnia is often due to unresolved problems. Before you go to bed, write down a few words about your concerns, followed by at least one thing you can do about it in the morning. That way, you go to bed knowing you have a plan.

7. Find a good book. If you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep, avoid any stimulating activity and instead, move yourself to a comfortable couch or chair read quietly under a low light.

8. Use white noise. Steady background noise can help lull you to sleep. You buy a sound machine designed for that purpose but for some people, the whir of a fan or air cleaner does the trick.

9. Get help. Both physical and mental disorders can interfere with sleep. It is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis of any underlying condition so that it can be treated properly. If insomnia is persistent, your doctor may also be able to refer you to a sleep specialist or stress management counselor.

10. Consider medication. According to New York University Langone Medical Center, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine found in over-the-counter allergy and sleep medications, can help you fall asleep and improve your overall quality of sleep. Speak with your doctor to find out which over-the-counter or prescription medications can safely be used to treat short-term insomnia.



New York University Langone Medical Center: Insomnia

Ohio State University Medical Center: Insomnia

University of Arizona: Healthy Sleep Habits