I get it. I really do. I had insomnia almost as far back as I can remember. As a young girl, my mom advised me to read myself to sleep, but reading never ever worked. Not even Leviticus! (More on that another day). At slumber parties, when every other girl had finally fallen asleep, I would lay on the floor in my sleeping bag listening to the peaceful breathing of those around me and feel … wide awake.
And then in college, I decided that enough was enough, and I did my research. I studied sleep habits and sleep hygiene, and I learned how to manage my sleep. And my insomnia largely went away. Now, of course, I’m a mother to a 2 year old, so I fall asleep watching TV, reading books, even while reading books out loud to her! But I remember what I learned, and I’m happy to pass it on to you now, so you can start to manage your insomnia and learn how to sleep well and soundly!
- Rule out medical issues (sleep apnea, restless legs, seasonal affective disorder, etc.). Seriously – if you have long standing issues with sleep, you’ll want to make sure there isn’t anything medically wrong with you. So go on, stop reading and call your doctor RIGHT NOW!
- Create a soothing bedtime ritual: using lotion, prayer, a gratitude journal, etc.
- Keep your room dark: blackout curtains, dim alarm clocks (if any), and NO TV!
- Turn off the screens. Phones, tablets, and TVs all give off a wavelength of light that tells your brain to chemically wake up.
- If you have been awake and alert for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something. Preferably not something involving a computer or TV screen, but whatever works.
- Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This is an essential rule of sleep hygiene. I don’t care if you only got 4 hours of sleep due to Rule 5, still get up.
Remember, unless you have a medical problem, you will sleep. You physically cannot keep yourself from sleeping. We allow our brains to interfere with our body’s needs, but if you practice the rules above, especially rules 5 and 6, eventually your body will overcome your mind and you’ll fall asleep. Let your body do what it does best: function autonomously.
None of this working for you? Sure you don’t have a medical problem? Give me a call! I’d love to talk through your sleep issues and help you identify potential problem areas.