Sleep. The elusive muse to soul restoration. You know those lucky people who fall asleep within five minutes of their head hitting the pillow? I am envious of that amazing ability.
Sleep, in my humble opinion, should be right up there with air, food, water and shelter as one of life’s necessities. The tricky part is that often, the more you need it, the more slippery it becomes. This need multiplies exponentially during times of stress, and often so does the inability to attain deep, restorative sleep. Welcome to the downward spiral of insomnia.
On top of sleep’s own game of hide and seek, we are a nation of people who burn the candle at both ends. It’s kind of some twisted badge of honor. “I only got three hours of sleep last night!” you hear people declare. Folks, this is not a good thing. Turn off your TV. Turn off your computers, your phones, your brain, and go to bed!
If you are trying to get on board with better sleep habits but are running into trouble, here a few tips to help you get some zzzzz’s:
- As mentioned above, turn off your electronics! They are over-stimulating your brain. Yes, this includes those of you who fall asleep with the TV on. The noise in the background is robbing you of the deep sleep you need to be refreshed and ready to hit the next day with all you’ve got.
- Create a routine and stick to it. Make a nightly ritual of things that prepare you. Turn off the TV/phone/computer, water the plants, brush your teeth, etc.
- Try a few different sleep-inducing things to see what works for you: relaxing yoga, guided meditation, journaling, warm bath, lavender scents: candle, potpourri, lotion, etc.
- Chamomile tea (unless this makes you have to get up to go to the bathroom all night!)
- Go to bed at the same time every night. Not 2 a.m. (unless your job requires it), but at a reasonable hour like 10-11 p.m.
- Relaxation body scan: repeating some affirmations (“I am okay right now.” “I will get through this.” “Tomorrow is a fresh start.” You get the idea).
- Try to stay away from sleeping medications. They can quickly become a crutch at best, an addiction at worst. Of course, listen to your doctor if they think it is in your best interest to take something, but be sparing!
- Ruminating on the day’s disasters, dwelling on the past, worrying about the future —these are all things that rob us of sleep. It can be really diffficult to interrupt those tapes that are playing on a continuous loop in our minds, but you must try if you want to get some sleep. These thought patterns are useless. If something happened in the past, it’s over. You cannot change it. If it’s in the future, it may not even come to pass. You cannot do anything about it right now, lying in bed trying to sleep. Let it go. If you can’t seem to do that, write it down so you can get it off your chest and out of your brain. You can look at it again tomorrow if it’s something you need to address.