I’ve been having some trouble sleeping recently, and I’m not sure why. I go to sleep between 12-1am (usually) and I like to wake up around 8:30-9am. But sometimes I wake up early – say 5-6am – and I can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes I get up because I have to pee, other times I just get up for no reason. I don’t usually have trouble sleeping when I first go to bed, but when I wake up in the middle of the night it’s always a struggle to get back to sleep.
I googled around and read some magazines and found a bunch of sleep tips that I thought you, my dear readers, might find useful. The one that helps me the most is journaling. I found some of these in the current issue of Health magazine.
- Move your body. Getting exercise during the day makes you physically tired, so it’s easier to fall asleep – your body needs it.
- Yoga. Yoga before bedtime is really relaxing. It’s a good time to start winding down your body and your mind. Even just some simple stretches can do wonders. (Just make sure not to do anything too intense – that might have the opposite effect that you want and wake you up.)
- Lose the noises. (Snoring boyfriend, beeping outside, etc…) Try listening to a calming CD or wearing SleepPhones (SleepPhones.com).
- Limit eating right before bed. This gives your body time to digest before you try to sleep. (I can never do this, but someday!)
- Relax. Here’s a good exercise – curl your toes for 7 seconds, then relax. Repeat with all the muscle groups from your toes up through your neck.
- Take notes. Makes notes of how much caffeine you drink, your exercise, your food, when you go to bed and wake up, and the amount of time you sleep. (Then you can take this to a sleep specialist if you want to go that route.) You might notice some patterns.
- Stay cool. People sleep better when the room is cooler – 65 degrees or lower.
- Journal. Instead of having tons of thoughts running through your head just when you’re trying to get to sleep, try to journal about your day ~2 hours before bedtime. You can also try an imagery exercise – imagine something peaceful like getting a massage, or a walk on the beach. Over time this will become a signal for your brain to start settling down.
Some more suggestions have to do with making your bedroom more sleep-friendly.
- Hang curtains (lined ones) so that your room can be dark and peaceful.
- Proper nighttime lighting – try using a dimmer to set the mood for sleep – or other things
- Your color theme should be relaxing spa tones like a warm blue-grey, light khaki, muted green… No bright colors or strong patterns. Something as simple as throwing a nice neutral throw blanket on your bed would work.
- Nix the clutter – get a pretty hamper or bin to throw things in and get out of sight. This makes it easier for your brain to relax.
- Good sheets – try 300 count sheets or even 100% Egyptian cotton. (Anything more than 300-count doesn’t make a difference.)
- Move your work to another room! No phones, no computer. (If you can’t do this, at least cover up the computer with something, or maybe put a screen between the bed and your workstation.)
I think all of these suggestions are great. Moving the work area to another room is a big help. I also realized that I drink green tea throughout the day… probably too much. I should switch to white or decaf tea in the afternoon and evening. The clutter thing makes sense – I got a bin for Bobby to put his crap in so I don’t have to have it just lying around. I also turned on the air the other night (!) when it was hot. I usually try to never use the A/C at all… but if it’s gonna help me sleep, I’m up for trying it.
The best suggestion for me was to journal. The reason that I can’t fall back asleep is because my mind just starts to race, and I think about all the things that I need to do, that I haven’t done, the bills that need to be paid, the grocery list, the decisions I made earlier, what the next day is going to be like… it just gets crazy. But if I write these things down, they immediately stop bothering me.
Do you have any more suggestions?