Sleeping!

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.

sleep 300x231 Sleeping!

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.

  1. Move your body.  Getting exercise during the day makes you physically tired, so it’s easier to fall asleep – your body needs it.
  2. 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.)
  3. Lose the noises. (Snoring boyfriend, beeping outside, etc…) Try listening to a calming CD or wearing SleepPhones (SleepPhones.com).
  4. Limit eating right before bed.  This gives your body time to digest before you try to sleep.  (I can never do this, but someday!)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Stay cool. People sleep better when the room is cooler – 65 degrees or lower.
  8. 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.

  1. Hang curtains (lined ones) so that your room can be dark and peaceful.
  2. Proper nighttime lighting – try using a dimmer to set the mood for sleep – or other things smile Sleeping!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Good sheets – try 300 count sheets or even 100% Egyptian cotton. (Anything more than 300-count doesn’t make a difference.)
  6. 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?

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20 Comments on Sleeping!

  1. Maria
    25 June, 2009 at 9:58 am (5 years ago)

    Yes, journaling sounds like a great thing to do. Usually when I have trouble sleeping, it’s because there’s too much going on in my head. Also, if you wake up at 5-6am, that’s when the sun is rising, so maybe invest in an eye mask. I find that I wake up if I see some light, but I’m just overly sensitive ;).

    Hope you figure it out!

  2. Jasmine
    25 June, 2009 at 9:59 am (5 years ago)

    I totally have the same problem. I must admit that a lot of times, I debate whether or not I want to get up and pee… horrible, I know. What really helps for me is to just focus on breathing (sorta like in yoga) and that distracts my mind so that it stops racing!

  3. MarathonVal
    25 June, 2009 at 10:11 am (5 years ago)

    Journaling is great – I like to write down some things I am grateful for before I go to bed, and this “forces” me to focus on the positive things in my life! Also, if an idea/thought/worry comes into my head during the night, I can write it down so that I dont forget (if it is something I need to remember) so that I can go back to focusing on sleep!

  4. MarathonVal
    25 June, 2009 at 10:11 am (5 years ago)

    Journaling is great – I like to write down some things I am grateful for before I go to bed, and this “forces” me to focus on the positive things in my life! Also, if an idea/thought/worry comes into my head during the night, I can write it down so that I dont forget (if it is something I need to remember) so that I can go back to focusing on sleep! :)

  5. Sagan
    25 June, 2009 at 10:23 am (5 years ago)

    Good ideas. I have lots of sleeping issues but I do think that it helps to turn off the computer a few hours before going to bed- and taking some rest time away from the usual grind really helps me a lot, too.

  6. Willa
    25 June, 2009 at 10:24 am (5 years ago)

    If you’re having really erratic sleeping patterns (or if you start to) — I used to, I’d go to sleep some days at 7am, and some days at 11pm — this website is really great: http://beta.yawnlog.com/

    It helps you track your sleep in a graph and it just comforts me to keep track of my sleeping schedule, especially before, when it was really really bad (school does that to you, I find). Also it’s cool to see how much other people tend to sleep!

  7. Biz
    25 June, 2009 at 10:27 am (5 years ago)

    I have black lined curtains so I bedroom is pitch dark even when its so sunny outside – you literally can’t see your hand in front of your face!

    Wow, you stay up late!

  8. Christina
    25 June, 2009 at 10:50 am (5 years ago)

    I try to “wind down” by going through the steps of getting ready for bed (contacts out, teeth brushed, face washed) about 30 minutes or so before I actually want to lay down. I think this tricks me into believing I need to prepare for bed mentally, since I’m already set physically.

    Each night once we get in bed, Johnny and I do a crossword together on his iPod touch, but before he got that we just did them out of the newspaper or out of those books you buy at the check-out counter. It’s really relaxing and tires you out mentally (I’m also one that lets my mind race). You don’t sit there and worry and stress, you’re wearing your mind out in a productive way. Then, if he goes to sleep and I’m still feeling a little too awake I’ll start a puzzle on my own and zonk out.

  9. Cindy
    25 June, 2009 at 11:29 am (5 years ago)

    what great suggestions. I hope you figure out soon why you can’t sleep.

    I don’t have insomnia often (other than the YEAR of no sleep bc of bubs) one day I can handle the sleepies….2 days UH OH…. more than that I am a train wreck!

    girl needs her zzzzz’s.

    i just think a bedtime routine is great…and we know you get tons of good exercise (which helps me so much too)
    :)

  10. charlene
    25 June, 2009 at 12:33 pm (5 years ago)

    I go through phases where I have the same issue. I just wrote a blog on fighting fatigue..ha! I do know that since I cut out caffeine (for the most part ..only on occasion) I sleep much better. I guess it was affecting me over time. That, and I read before going to bed and shut off the tv. Always makes me sleepier :)

    I really enjoy your blog, I will definitely be reading more. If you get the chance, take a peek at mine. have a great day!

    -Char

  11. charlene
    25 June, 2009 at 12:55 pm (5 years ago)

    let me know if it helps you! that would be interesting to find out. I drank Green Tazo tea from Starbucks every day..and it affected me. I was a bit sad, but there are many decaf teas available..just not at starbucks! lol

  12. Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter)
    25 June, 2009 at 1:41 pm (5 years ago)

    Maggie,
    Crank down that AC. I love being warm during the day – never turn the AC on unless it’s really hot outside. At night, we turn it all the way down – our house is probably 60 degrees, but it’s the only way Chris and I can sleep. We also have a ceiling fan. It’s freezing, and I love it. I CANNOT sleep if I’m hot. I’m also a huge fan of nice sheets and down comforters.

  13. Kristen (Flexy Fare)
    25 June, 2009 at 5:56 pm (5 years ago)

    Like Christina said, the bedtime routine thing seems to help a lot of people. But that doesn’t address the early morning waking. One thing I’ve tried is a melatonin supplement. They seem to be safe (I read up on these things!), if you are open to that kind of thing. Your body uses melatonin to regulate sleep-wake cycles, so the supplement just gives it more. I’m no doctor and I don’t sell it – haha, but it’s something people are using to get a full night’s rest!

    P.S. I like your blog and have bookmarked you!

  14. Erin
    25 June, 2009 at 6:57 pm (5 years ago)

    I am a chronic insomniac and I can tell you that those tips are all great! They should make a difference for someone suffering a mild insomnia episode.

    Do you have white noise in your room? Like a sound machine or an air purifier? That is key for me! And Ambien. :)

  15. coco
    26 June, 2009 at 2:47 am (5 years ago)

    sorry to know that you were having problem to sleep, I really feel you on this. I used to sleep bad all the time, especially waking up too early in the middle of the night and hard to fall to sleep again. And the main reason of that I think it’s stress… it’s incredible how the quality of sleep gets better now that I’m on a semi vacation!
    I’ve never thought about journaling might help,… good to know for my next episode of bad sleep.

  16. Justine
    26 June, 2009 at 4:58 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for tips Maggie. Hope you are getting better sleep :)

    ~Justine

  17. Michelle
    26 June, 2009 at 6:33 am (5 years ago)

    Those are great tips! I’ve used ‘em all!! I also have found that getting a massage with oils (lavender) before i sleep (heheh that’s when the partner comes in) helps improve sleep quality by alot!! I tend to drink a lot of green tea during the day as well, but for some reason, my Asian genes may have gotten immune to the caffeine in them and I sleep like a baby. hahahah :P

  18. Dori
    26 June, 2009 at 8:09 am (5 years ago)

    Does Xanax count as a suggestion? Haha, just kidding. The last two nights I have had terrible insomnia, which is very unlike me. Usually I pass out around 11 and I’m out for the night, but the last 2 I have been SO tired and still up at 2:30 am. I feel a constant shakiness in my chest the entire time I try to sleep. Maybe anxiety? I don’t know. Hopefully it doesn’t last. The last thing I need is another doctor’s visit!

    I will try journaling if it happens again and I have the energy…

  19. carolinebee
    27 June, 2009 at 7:04 am (5 years ago)

    great tips! I have the waking up early thing, I don’t really know how to curb it, but at least if i go to bed earlier i feel like I still get enough sleep. It’s SO annoying though, i used to be able to sleep til like, 2 in college :D

  20. elise
    29 June, 2009 at 9:54 am (5 years ago)

    i occasionally have issues too. journaling is great, but now that i have blogging, it kinda satisfies that category. you might look into melatonin. its natural and works for me. you can get it at any local health foods/vitamin store. feel free to email me if you have any questions.