Monday, October 20, 2014

on sleep(lessness): 6 tips for insomnia

I have had bouts of trouble sleeping for almost as long as I can remember. The last few years—be it due to stress or something else (a dog with a small bladder and more recently, a crying baby, perhaps?)—have been significantly worse than ever, and most of the time, I just sigh and accept the fact that I'm usually exhausted.

BUT. That's no reason not to try to set ourselves up for success, right? Here are my tried and sometimes true insomnia beaters:

1) Mind what you watch. For me, right now at least, this means that shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead (who am I kidding, I really can't watch that show at any hour) or any other equally disturbing drama, thriller, or show prone to get my heart rate up is off-limits in the late evening hours. Scandal is borderline. Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and Gilmore Girls are before-bedtime winners. 

2) Sleepy tea. I have literally tried almost every single nighttime tea on the market. The only one I can tell to be really helpful is the Yogi Bedtime Tea. For me, it works better than Melatonin, which leaves me with a mela-hangover.

3) Exercise. This one seems obvious, I know. But I extend this to even just time outside, especially during the work week when exercise doesn't suit my schedule or my list of priorities. After sitting in a windowless office 5 days a week, I feel so much more balanced in general to have fresh air in my lungs and the sun on my face. Who doesn't?

4) Don't just lay there. When you wake (or are woken) up and can't get back to sleep, DO SOMETHING. Read, write, check facebook, something. I know this is the opposite of what many people say. Even if it may not always help me get sleepy (but it often does), feeling like I'm being somewhat productive with my extra wakeful time sure does beat laying in a heap of worry.

5) Speaking of worry: name your anxiety. My mind will be spinning out of control about a particular stressor. Sometimes, it helps for me to step back and call that worry out for exactly what it is. Whether it's work, or finances, or a zillion other things, if I snap myself out of my inner monologue of fear, I can sometimes then channel my focus to other (more sleep-promoting) things. Sometimes I do this by imagining myself at my favorite place, our family summer cabin in Virginia. Or picturing my worries in the scope of the Grand Canyon is a tip I found that's stuck with me for a while now. It helps!

6) And when all else fails: AMBIEN. No, just kidding (kind of). But seriously, remember: you've been tired before; you'll be tired again. I do look at the clock, and it used to just get me just more ratcheted up (it's 3:30 a.m.! Only 3 more hours until my alarm! I'm going to be be soooo tired tomorrow!), but now, I just end up saying "meh" and shrugging my shoulders at that fear-mongering mentality. Will the day be long? Yes. Will I get through it somehow? YES. I tell myself to cool it and relax, and that at least letting my body rest (even if it doesn't actually sleep) is better than nothing. And sometimes, just telling myself that is enough, and the next thing I know I'm being woken up by the light creeping in through the windows.

Or—sigh—that crying baby. :)

1 comment:

  1. Great tips!! I especially love the last kinda brings it back into perspective!