I could have killed for sleep. They use sleep deprivation as torture. I understand why. Night after night of very little interrupted sleep takes its toll on the body and the mind. The irony, however, is that later in life when I COULD sleep, I COULDN’T sleep. The tossing and turning and looking at the clock and laying there saying to myself, “Go to sleep, NOW,” were excruciating. At least when you were up at night with babies you got to enjoy those quiet, precious moments alone with your baby. Being alone with your anxiety is no fun. I know there are many reasons for people to lay awake at night—physical, mental, and emotional reasons. Sleep, or the lack of it, is affected by all other areas of our lives, and it affects all other areas of our lives. Again, each person’s reasons for sleeplessness are unique.
What are your reasons?
Begin the journey to find out. Find some good teachers. Try different things. See what works for you. Here’s some things I have found helpful (some of them I’ve tried and some sound like they are worth a try):
1) Regular sleep schedule—try go to bed and get up at the same time. Do not sleep in. If you really need a nap, do so early in the afternoon and make it short (about 30 minutes). Use an alarm at first, but with time your body should get used to the pattern.
2) Make sure it is dark in the room when you go to bed and use a small light if you need to wake up in the middle of the night. Also, do not read from a backlit devise before sleeping. Looking at television and computer screens just prior to bedtime could be a problem as well. Give yourself at least a half hour of “no electronics” time before going to bed.
3) Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations prior to bedtime.
4) Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Read a book or magazine by a soft light, prepare for the next day, take a warm bath/shower, get a massage, do light stretches, listen to books on tape or soft music.
5) Try aromatherapy. Lemon balm oil, lavender oil, chamomile oil, and marjoram can be used by themselves or combined for a bath, massage, or pillow or air spray.
6) Temperature can make a difference. There is evidence that the body temperature needs to lower as we fall to sleep so keeping the room cool can help. There’s two views on this, so experiment to see what works for you. Some say that the suggested warm bath should be taken a few hours before bedtime in order to allow the body to cool down again before sleeping. Others suggest that a warm bath just before slipping into cool covers facilitates this temperature drop.
7) Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Remove clocks from the room—especially illuminated ones.
8) Check your bed and pillows for the desired firmness. Try different pillow positions.
9) Keep your bedding clean and your bed made up.
10) Try different sleeping positions. Some recommend sleeping on your back or side as sleeping on your stomach does not allow for easy air intake.
11) Watch what you eat before bedtime, because big meals can cause problems. On the other hand, whole grains with a little protein may help you get to sleep.
12) Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and tobacco, along with other drugs can stimulate the body and make sleep difficult. Avoid them at all costs if you are having trouble sleeping.
13) Limit your intake of liquids in the evening.
14) Exercise during the day means better sleep at night. Even 20-30 minutes counts. Plus, it’s good for your health overall.
15) Learn how to manage your stress. Deep breathing and meditations are great, so is conscious progressive relaxation of the muscles.
16) Positive affirmation. Throughout the day remind yourself about how well you will sleep. For example,you can say, “Tonight I will fall asleep quickly and will sleep well.”
17) Practice “not thinking” when you’re laying in bed. As you lay there, if a thought comes to mind, consciously dismiss it and try to get back to “not thinking.”
18) Enjoy the silence. Life can be so noisy. Really enjoy the quiet that bedtime brings.
19) If you can’t dismiss thoughts and ideas, write them down (keep a notebook and a pen next to your bed) When you write down the idea – let it go. Journaling and writing before bedtime can also be a good way to put it on paper and get it out of the mind and heart.
20) Count the sheep! But they don’t necessarily have to be sheep. Find images that are relaxing to you and count them very slowly, seeing the increasing numbers attached to the image until you get to twenty, then start back over at number one. You can also try to count backwards from some number like 100 or 1000. The key is to count slowly and take a relaxing breath between each number.
21) If you are laying there awake, get up, do some non-stimulating activity, and then try to go back to bed. (Again, don’t turn on any bright lights).
22) Earplugs. They can be a great tool if snoring or other noises are keeping you from the quiet peace you need.
Don’t try to do all of these at the same time, try to do a couple at a time and stay consistent for a while. If it doesn’t work, move on to the next item on the list.
Most importantly, listen to your body.Back to “Body”