Sleep is often elusive in our fast-paced society. Wendy Freund MSEd., LCSW offers some practical help to see you through a good night’s rest.
Many people have trouble sleeping. Some cannot fall asleep while others fall asleep but wake in the middle of the night. Some are miserable during this wakeful period while others walk around like zombies during the day, suffering from depression and general fogginess. Resorting to pills, often leaves one in a stupor the next day and may even increase the feeling of exhaustion and depression. Below are some suggestions based on my readings, consultations, and other research.
Take a hot bath or shower, switch your element.
Sleep in a dark, cool (even cold) room.
Get rid of all those little red, green, and blue dots that your various devices generate.
Avoid devices for a few hours before bed.
Use orange, red, or yellow lighting at night (think campfire)—never white or blue. Some people like electric candles that are programmed to go off after a few hours.
Try a white noise machine if your room is noisy.
Develop a sleep visualization that engages the right and left hemispheres of your brain i.e. a picture with something to count. That’s why counting sheep works.
Scramble your brain to turn off your thoughts e.g. pick a number and count backwards by sevens or go through the alphabet picking an artist (or musician etc.) for each letter of the alphabet.
Try yoga or other calming breathing techniques.
There are many apps for meditation that can put your mind at ease.
Try time release Melatonin.
Relax with the aroma of lavender.
Napping is not a problem for many people if it’s before 4pm.
No caffeine after 2pm.
Be mindful of alcohol, especially red wine.
Sip two teabags of Sleepytime Tea Extra seeped in a half glass of hot water.
Keep a journal next to your bed to jot down random thoughts.
It is a personal preference whether you stay in bed or get up during sleepless nights.
Be ok with episodic sleep as long as you can fall back to sleep between episodes. As we age, we are likely to sleep in episodes, not long chunks.
And lastly, if you really can’t sleep read Ken Haruf, Our Souls at Night.