I don’t know about you, but I have trouble sleeping (to put it mildly). From the many stories about sleeping that are in pretty much every magazine I pick up, I’m not the only one. It appears to be a significant problem for a lot of us.
I know that there are lots of reasons to account for it, but to me, it doesn’t matter what the reason is. The fact that I’m still awake in the middle of the night is a problem. I don’t know about you, but once I wake up, even just a little bit, it’s really hard to go back to sleep. My mind starts working, I have all these brilliant ideas that I wish I had during the day, and I think about all the things I wish I had done or said differently. So what do you do when the clock reads 1:36, 2:40, or 3:15 and you just want to sleep?
Well, I read a lot about sleep hygiene. That always sounds funny to me; like you’re supposed to brush your teeth while you sleep. They are actually ideas that you are supposed to incorporate to induce good quality sleep.
- You’re supposed to sleep in a cool room – I use an electric blanket.
- You’re not supposed to nap during the day – you have to sleep sometime, right?
- Avoid caffeine – Um, I need a LOT of coffee to keep me awake since I didn’t sleep. How else am I going to get anything done?
- Avoid upsetting conversations and circumstances before bed – I take this to mean do not watch the news and become antisocial for a few hours every evening.
- Do not drink alcohol too close to bedtime- haaaa…how many hours are there between dinner and bedtime?
- Keep lights and electronics turned off; avoid blue light from cell phones, computers, e-readers, etc. Blue light from these devices affect the level of melatonin, which is the sleep-inducing hormone, more than other types of light – I’d like to know what else I’m supposed to do when I’m awake most of the night.
Well, I guess I know WHY I’m awake most of the night now. What can I do about it? There are so many different ideas on how to manage this problem. Some of the more common ones that are easy to use (and some I’ve succeeded at) are:
Deep breathing: Try breathing in while counting to 4. Hold your breath to the count of 4. Exhale to the count of 4. This actually worked to even out my breathing, relax me, and the counting took my mind off whatever it was that kept me awake. Also, after a few repetitions, I might have hyperventilated.
White noise: I think anything to decrease outside noises (like your neighbors arguing, air conditioners clunking, etc.) will work. Try a white noise machine, sound machines (like waves or thunderstorms), air cleaners, fans, etc. If all else fails, get somebody to hum to you.
Meditation: I used to think this was way too much work and too hard because I like to think too much. Actually, it’s not that hard, it does work, and you can adjust to whatever form works for you. There are so many phone apps out there to choose from, too (if you ignore the advice about the blue light). You can find whatever works best time-wise, voice-wise, and style-wise. Try one out!
Alcohol: Back to the alcohol. Yes, it’s listed above under things to avoid, but I think that’s only if you don’t drink the right amount. Be like Goldilocks; experiment until you find JUST the right amount of alcohol you need to get a good night’s sleep.