Don’t look at the clock..
Don’t look at the..
Awake for 30 minutes now.
4 more hours till the feet hit the floor.
Is it supposed to rain tomorrow?
Is the patio door locked?
Was that the cat?
Unfortunately this is an all too common internal dialogue for those who suffer from insomnia.
The night time hours are not the only thing that don’t go smoothly for those sleep challenged. For those who don’t experience the toss and turn polka it’s hard to understand.
You wake unrested, hobble to the bathroom, and wonder why has that old knee injury decided to flare up today. You fire up the coffee pot hoping the caffeine brings you into the land of the living. The appetite seems more suppressed than usual but a muffin rides shot gun for part of the drive to work.
Low in energy the body now cries for sugar and doesn’t discriminate the source. The stash of quarters in the top desk drawer gets inhaled by the vending machine.
“C’mon 5 o’clock!” once again becomes the mantra.
The young intern at work whose enthusiasm has been admired up till now is on the receiving end of a long glare and an internal judgment about her high heels.
The day drags along and the idea of taking a nap during lunch in the car seems appealing except for the fact your hunger is tearing a hole in your stomach.
After lunch the clock seems to stand still and the focus and creativity required for the job has apparently stayed on lunch break.
The auto pilot button is pressed for the drive home except for the detour at a drive through.
The diet will have to wait for another day.
Salty, greasy fingers throw the jacket over a chair because the fries became the appetizer 8 blocks from the house. The main entree is finished on the couch in front of the TV.
A couple hours go by of mindless TV viewing horizontal on the sofa.
The semi coma state is only jarred by a recollection of some chocolates in the cupboard.
The search party of one has no luck finding the target but stumble across a forgotten cereal box with enough sugary remains to fill the void.
Bedtime draws near and the lights are dimmed and the bath is drawn. This is what that article at the grocery store instructed.
Maybe tonight will be the night.
Maybe the game of counting the ceiling tiles will be postponed due to darkness.
Unfortunately this scenario may sound all too familiar for those who have insomnia. The fact that 60 million Americans suffer from poor sleep at some point would indicate this is more common than it is publicized.
Optimal sleep has a far reaching impact. Those of you who pillow wrestle can recognize how mental focus, cravings, mood and overall well-being can be affected. Sleep is one of the staples that holds our health together.
The more common strategy is to work on sleep hygiene. This is essentially your habits around sleeping.
Do you go to bed at different hours? Wake up different times? Caffeine latter in the day? Is the bedroom dark and quiet?
is there a pre-bed ritual? Alcohol before bed? Exercise before bed? Do you have a ritual such as warm bath, maybe some reading or breathing exercises? Is there screen time in bed? Even a sleep diary may help to put down your thoughts instead of letting them fester.
Getting some exercise during the day does pays dividends. If this can be done under the sun to help with circadian rhythms then that would be optimal.
Some will argue with me that alcohol is beneficial and that may be occasionally the case but daily and multiple drinks will impair sleep and block health goals. This is why it’s common to wake around 1:00 – 3:00 feeling overheated and possibly a fast heart rate. Blood sugar is strongly affected from alcohol. Alcohol will be absorbed very quickly through the mucous lining. This starts in your mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach and intestines. This is why some medicines include alcohol
Regulating blood sugar and optimizing thyroid has enabled many to sink into deep sleep.
One of those mentioned action steps below could be the answer but usually it is a combination of a few. There isn’t a need to convince yourself that, “I only need 5 hours.” No need to wear that badge.
One thing for sure is lowering the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol is key to optimizing sleep quality. These two stress hormones are the partners in crime for most sleep problems. These are the real keys to affecting change especially if you already have managed your sleep hygiene habits.
Discovering how to keep them at bay will go along way to improve sleep quality and quantity.
I’ve included my checklist from my book. Here are 21 tried and tested ways to improve sleep. Most should be self explanatory.
1.Have a ‘Nog’ of fruit juice or milk and honey before bed (sea salt optional)
2.Reduce or eliminate caffeine after 1 p.m.
3.Reduce or eliminate alcohol
4.Minimize physical and mental stimulating activities after supper
5.Reduce or eliminate water consumption after supper or earlier if needed
6.Create a smooth transition to bed such as: dimming lights, taking bath, watching funny T.V. reading light material and
7.Avoid stressful work or stimulating, disturbing T.V.
8.Keep extremities warm with socks, hot water bottles, and long pajamas.
9.Epsom salt baths before bed are great (don’t be shy with amounts)
10.Daily sunshine or red light wavelength therapy during the winter months
11.Raw carrots daily especially if cycle related or menopausal related. Normal bowel functioning is extremely important
12.Compare awakened heart rate to resting heart rate to determine if adrenaline driven. If adrenaline, then more Nogs are needed
13.Diaphragmatic breathing, especially when trying to get to sleep. Breathe through nose
14.Grazing throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable
15.Get enough daily protein (80 grams or more)
16.Try to maintain the same bedtime
17.Use F. lux software to protect from blue light
18.Keep bedroom environment suitable for sleep such as darkness, noise, temperature, etc.
19.Exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be intense—just move. Walking is nature would be great
20.Optimal thyroid functioning
21.Do something you enjoy every day
Feel free to email me at Sean@liferightsideup.com and let me know your experience.