Saturday, September 21, 2013
5 Tips For Curing Insomnia
After returning from China, my sleep cycle was so messed up. Jet lag, crying baby, illness... it all conspired to leave me awake when I shouldn't have been, and exhausted the rest of the time. Here's some tips for getting your much needed zzzs.
1) Cut the screen time before bed. I'm terrible about this! I'm guilty of curling up with my iPad, and not realizing how much time has passed until it's very late and I have to turn out the light and go to sleep. Turn off the TV, computer, or tablet half an hour before you turn off the bedroom light, and you'll have an easier time slipping off to slumber.
2) Have a set routine. I finally had to set an alarm on my phone for 8:30 every night to remind me that it's night time and I need to be moving in the direction of bed. Of course there will be exceptions, nights out, etc, but if you try to get to bed at the same time each night, you will set the rhythm for your body.
3) Natural remedies. Calms Forte from Hyland's comes in both adult and children's formulas, and is a gentle, natural, no "hangover" type option to try. Melatonin is another, similar option. Melatonin, however, works best when taken consistently, whereas Calms Forte is more of an "as needed" sort of product. Anyone who's familiar with Rescue Remedy will be interested to know they also make Rescue Sleep, in spray or tiny melts. Rescue Sleep is helpful when your brain is whirling or you're having a hard time dropping off due to worry. It can be taken when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep, without leaving you drowsy in the morning.
4) The occasional sleeping pill. Sometimes it's the best option. Maybe you goofed and had a soda with caffeine late in the day. Maybe your insomnia has been going on for a while and you're stuck in a bad cycle and you really need to hit the reset button. Maybe something big is happening tomorrow, and you have to get your sleep tonight. One pill, once in a while, is not a problem. Depending on sleeping pills, however, is not good for you, so keep it to a minimum.
5) Focus your thoughts. In our family, we use The Alphabet Trick. For the kids, especially last year, when our homeschooling was so geography based, I would tell them, "Start with A, and think of a country that begins with each letter through the alphabet. If you get all the way to Z, and you still can't sleep, come see me again." They never make it. We also use cities, animals, foods, etc. Personally, as a homeschool mom, I was doing, "Things I want to teach my children" the other night. A is for Art, B is for Bible, C is for Cursive, D is for long Division these days (which we're hating, BTW), E is for Everything-they-need-to-be-successful-in-life, F is for Fractions... You get the idea. I've also done character traits: Admirable, Benevolent, Caring, Devoted, Enthusiastic, Fun, Generous, etc. If you take your mind off of the fact that you're not sleeping, often you'll wake up realizing you never made it to J. You can try Things I'm Thankful For, or Funny Names, or Businesses You Frequent, or make up your own. Just don't do Things I Have To Do Tomorrow--you'll stress yourself out!
Prayer is another way to focus your thoughts, and people tease that you fall asleep faster because the devil doesn't like you praying. Whether that's true or not, I find that praying can be helpful IF you're praying reflections about how great God is, or blessings you're grateful for. If you're worried, and you start praying about a problem, you stand a chance of just getting yourself worked up, instead of relaxing. On the other hand, if you can truly turn a problem over to the Lord, you may find yourself resting easier afterwards.
As a bonus, you might also contemplate your sleep environment. Maybe it's time for a nice, new set of flannel sheets, or a comfy new pair of PJs to put you in a somnolent frame of mind. Perhaps you might try putting a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil in a diffuser in your room. Lavender Spray or a lavender scented candle burned (and extinguished!) before bedtime serves the same purpose. Consider whether too much light in the room is bothering you. Unplug any unnecessary charging devices, etc. If it's window light, blackout curtains or shades might be the answer to your sleep issues.
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