So lately I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. A really hard time. For example, tonight, I went to bed at ~12:30 and it is now 2:28am and I still can’t sleep. I decided to google it and in this search I found this site, which basically tells me that everything I do when I can’t sleep is wrong:
- RETINAL STIMULATION – make it a point to go outside and stimulate your retinas (eyes) for about 15 minutes a day with sunlight. This “full on” light exposure can help restore your body’s natural sleep/night cycle, also known as the “circadian rhythm.” Looking straight into the sun is never a good idea, but being in an area where you receive the full brightness of the sun around you is what’s recommended.
- NO NAPS – Avoid naps during the day. If you sleep during the day, your body may not be as tired as necessary to get to sleep at night.
- COOL ROOM – Keep the temperature in your room cool and comfortable.
- WAKING ACTIVITIES – Don’t participate in waking activities while in bed, like watching TV, eating, talking on the telephone, texting your friends, or using your laptop. Remember, bed has traditionally been for sleep. Train yourself to limit your bed-related activities, and your body will begin to associate your bed with sleepiness. Reading in bed is different. Reading can help you focus your mind, especially if what you read is boring. Save the murder mysteries for daytime and pick up a boring book for sleep. Reading in bed is an age-old trick for quickly getting to sleep.
- GO TO BED AT REGULAR TIME – There’s no easy answer to the problem of being too tired during day-time and not tired enough at bed-time. Nonetheless, most experts agree that it is most helpful for you to go to bed at a regular, planned time. If you need to sleep more, it’s better for you to go to bed at your regular time and get up earlier. With time, your body should re-adjust and give you the hours you need. Be careful about driving or operating machinery when not fully rested, though. If you feel tired to the point of losing visual focus, you should definitely not be operating heavy machinery – no matter what. When not sleeping well for a period of time, ask someone else to drive you to work, if you can.
- DON’T EXERCISE (<3 HOURS) – Don’t exercise within three hours of trying to fall asleep – this raises the heartrate. Slow stretching on the other hand might be just what the doctor ordered to get your body slowed down and feeling good.
- DON’T EAT STIMULATING FOODS (<3 HOURS) – Don’t eat stimulating foods within three hours of trying to fall asleep – lying horizontally interrupts digestion and may cause heartburn. Also, eating high fat and carbohydrate foods might help make you groggy and help you fall asleep, but calorie-conscious people may need to weigh the benefits of such an approach to insomnia.
- AVOID STIMULANTS (<2-3 hours) – Avoid all stimulants such as caffeinated and nicotine in cigarettes. Caffeinated products include coffee, tea, sodas, and especially colas. Even some aspirin or other headache remedies often contain caffeine! “Energy drinks”, Mountain Dew and a wide variety of other “energy bars” or supplements often contain a high amount of stimulating products. Check your vitamin and other supplements to make sure none of them are stimulating as well. (Look them up on an Internet search engine if you are unsure.) Check labels to see if products like aspirin are in any other product you take before bed. It is a surprise to many people to learn that even cigarettes can be stimulating when you are tired. Stay away from all these substances if you want a good night’s sleep.
- AVOID LIQUIDS. (<2 HOURS) – many people are just simply drinking too many fluids before sleep. Parents with bedwetting children learn to curtail all liquids about 2 hours before sleep, thereby allowing the child’s body to void excess liquids about 30-60 minutes before actual bed-time. Well, adults have the same pattern of voiding as children. If liquids are taken before sleep, those liquids create an urgency to urinate that can awaken the adult. While that adult usually has enough bladder control to get to the bathroom, they often do not have the ability to get back to sleep. Stop drinking before sleep, and see if you stop waking up to urinate.
- WIND DOWN (<90 MINS) – 90 minutes before you go to bed, wind own your day and don’t participate in anxiety-inducing activities like checking your mail, email or even watching the evening news.
- WRITE DOWN CONCERNS (<30 MINS) – Spend a few minutes before bed at night writing down your concerns and stresses, then hopes or things you’re thankful for, so that you can give your mind a rest while you are sleeping.
- CALMING MUSIC/SELF-HYPNOSIS – Listen to calming music, white noise, self-hypnosis or a “brain recalibration” tape for sleep. Such tapes are scientifically designed to help you “reset” your brain and calm down. When developed by researchers rather than marketers, they are remarkably effective. Just be sure to buy your brain recalibration audios from reputable sleep companies, and not slick marketing companies.
- GET UP IF YOU CAN’T SLEEP – If you can’t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes get out of bed.
- AVOID BRIGHT LIGHTS – if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep within 30 minutes, get up but avoid as much light as possible. Light will only stimulate your brain’s day/night balance (circadian cycle). Avoid computer-based hypnosis programs just prior to going to bed for the same reason. The light emitted from a computer screen is intense. Any strong light is more likely to stimulate and wake your nervous system.
- REDIRECT NIGHTMARES/BAD THOUGHTS – If you have a nightmare or stress-inducing thoughts, focus on a different ending. Write down your nightmare, or tell someone else about it to stop the continual thoughts.
I can say that I manage to do the exact opposite of about half of these 15 tips. In reading them, though, they’re all pretty logical which is interesting. I think that my issue is I have nothing to do. I’m done school? I’ve never been done my term so soon. I’m anxious and nervous about the busy summer but I’m looking forward to being so mentally exhausted that I can’t keep my eyes open. I’ve been trying to get to sleep for so long that I’m now completely starving. I think my body has switched night to day, so maybe I need to use Nyquil or something to sleep at the right time. I wonder if this happens to other people? You’re so bored and your brain is so completely unstimulated that you can’t sleep? I’m finding that my lack of learning lately has caused me to not be able to focus. Like when I’m reading instructions, in a cookbook or something, I have to read it maybe 10 times to fully absorb what it’s telling me to do. I wonder if that’s a bad thing? I’m hoping this changes sometime soon. I hate this tossing and turning business.
I’m thinking about reading a “boring book” like it says to do to make yourself tired. But I just don’t think that any of my books are boring. Do people own boring books? Why would you buy a book that you think is boring? I have books that don’t interest me as much as others, but on the whole I don’t buy it if I think any part of it is boring…Aren’t books for enjoyment and entertainment purposes?
I’m trying to come up with some way to rearrange my bedroom and also design a custom closet to fit all my clothes and shoes, it would help with the overall clutter issue. I remember when I got my IKEA TV storage unit I promised myself that I wouldn’t put anything on the top, and now I’m staring at it and there’s a candle, 2 christmas decorations, a scented stick thing, 2 christmas cards, a giant sparkley fake flower, a box of chocolate ducks from last easter, a microbe plus, and 3 snow globes. I wish I had somewhere to store this stuff. Looking at it up there makes me feel cluttered and dusty and maybe contributing to why I can’t sleep right now, notsomuch earlier. I tried to organize the wall unit. There’s no hope for my future organization skills…or maybe they will evolve someday, I guess nobody really knows.
I think I’m going to go buy a boring book tomorrow. It’s 2:41am and I’m pretty sure I won’t sleep if I close my laptop and shut my eyes. It feels like there’s some strange aura around me while I’m laying there. Some like negative bubble that keeps my brain from shutting off. This could also be known as mental alertness which I don’t experience a lot because school sucks my neurons dry. I guess that’s enough complaining for one too-early-morning.