Don’t you just hate it when you can’t sleep? I’ve had this trouble for, crikey, longer than I care to think about really. We may actually be talking about decades rather than years, even! There’s just something about lying down in the dark and waiting for a big wave of sleep to come over you. It just doesn’t work for me, hasn’t for a long long time. It doesn’t matter how tired – even exhausted – I was prior to lying down. Even if I was yawning and almost nodding off on the sofa in front of the telly. But as soon as I lie down in bed in a darkened room – I just snap straight awake again.
Sometimes that’s not such a big deal – holidays and weekends, for example. But if you have work in the morning, and your precious hours of rest are tick-tick-ticking away, then you can become so anxious about the problem that it just aggravates your inability to sleep.
Still, I’ve learned through experience what does and doesn’t work for me when getting to sleep is a real problem. Want to hear?
1 KEEPING SOME WHITE NOISE GOING IN THE BACKGROUND.
Like what? That comes down to taste. Personally I like an episode of Buffy running quietly in the background, with the TV set to switch to standby in an hour or so. Twenty minutes in and i’m snoring gently with a TV playing to nobody. It’s just like magic!
You may prefer music, or old episodes of The Persuaders with Roger Moore smarming away. Whatever works – and it’s wonderful when it does.
2 HAVING A LITTLE SUGAR BEFORE BED
I picked this tip up from Jean Carper’s ‘Food: Your Miracle Medicine’, a terrific thoroughly researched book based on scientific studies. However this tactic is something I personally avoid if at all possible, although I find it does work for me. Allegedly a little simple sugar before bed – a couple of biscuits or some boiled sweets, say – may slow your mind down and make it easier to relax. However I don’t really think my gums and teeth can afford to take the extra hammering, so as I say, it’s something I use only if I’m really desperate.
3 TRYING NOT TO HAVE A LIGHT SOURCE IN THE ROOM
I have read that there is a connection between not sleeping in perfect darkness and sleep problems. According to some this is related to the chemical melatonin. I can’t say I have had much success with this one: I find that between white noise and complete darkness, the former is just so much more effective for me that I have to make a choice between the two. Of course I could just listen to the radio or an audiobook in complete darkness and combine the two, but the television works so much better for me, and hey, if it ain’t broke – you know the rest.
However your mileage may vary, and if you think it’s worth trying your results could be different.
4 GETTING A GOOD BEDTIME ROUTINE GOING
Yes, everyone always says this, and especially your Mum! It’s probably true since it makes such intuitive sense. Most people mention making milky drinks, having a set bedtime, warm baths, winding down prior to bedtime – all the usual relaxing sounding activities and non-activities. Personally I find that my bedtime routine goes something like this; eat too much, too late; surf through late-night channels searching for comedy shows; feel restless and get on the internet; wash up with sluggish reluctance; back to the sofa and the TV; fall asleep there with the telly still on.
I wonder why I have sleep problems…?
5 TRYING SOME EXERCISE
Now from personal experience this is one that works like a charm, and really it’s just a matter of common sense. The trouble is getting yourself to feel like it in the first place. I know that if I get out and about on a long walk round a local beauty spot during the day, then by 9.30 or 10 p.m. that night I’ll be ready to drop off to sleep like a little baby. If you get to evening time properly physically tired, instead of psychologically stressed and restless, you probably know for yourself that it aids your sleep pattern an awful lot. The trick is to choose the form of exercise most palatable to yourself.
There you have it, my full and frank opinions on five approaches to the problems of insomnia. Don’t forget, if you feel your problem is severe enough to affect your health you may want to consult a medical professional. Sleep, there’s nothing like it for putting all your cares to rights – so don’t let sleep deprivation tonight spoil your day tomorrow.