Shutting your brain off for a good night sleep

September 18th, 2009

tired_woman

How many of you lay awake at night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep? How many of you flip flop around like a fish out of water, and check that clock… 1:17Am, 3:27Am, 4:49Am, 6:30AM…..BEEP BEEP BEEP. Your alarm is ringing, time to wake up!! I am getting tired just writing about it!

The truth is for many, sleep deprivation is a major issue.  We all know how it feels when you’re lying awake in bed trying to fall asleep, and your mind is racing. Thoughts are coming from everywhere, and although your body is lying quite still, your mind is running an iron man marathon.  It’s almost as if you’re thinking 100 times faster at night than you do during the day.

This is the way it may play out for you. You’re laying in bed, frustrated, forcing your mind to not think. “I just need to get to sleep… If I fall asleep in 10 minutes, I’ll have 4 hours left… I better get to sleep now… Tomorrow I can’t forget to make a haircut appointment for the three kids… I hate my job… How I’m going to tell my girlfriend she disappointed me…” and the list of worries goes on and on. So how do you stop it?

I have to say for me, I thankfully do not suffer from this problem. And, I’m not bragging, cuz I have a list of other wacky things I suffer from… anxiety and neuroses being two of the top ones. But, for some reason, when I actually get into bed and close my eyes, it’s for the night. And unless I’m awoken by a little person living in this house, it’s all pretty good here on my end.

My husband, however, is an entirely different story. I feel terrible for him. He suffers with sleep deprivation a lot of the time. It sort of goes something like this. We get into bed together. Watch a little TV. Maybe a little “you know what.”  We both fall asleep. Starting 1am, he awakes, usually for he night, and starts with the flip flopping. The bed is shaking. He’s moaning and groaning he can’t sleep.  I will not let him watch TV in our room in the middle of the night, as I find it “disruptive.” So he leaves for the den. Is that selfish? Maybe, but I’m a mom, and I need my beauty sleep! Then, we two reunite somewhere around 4am, and our bed really starts hopping at 6:15am, when the 2 hoodlums come and take over. Our day begins.

I love it though. For me, my favorite part the day is when the four of us are snuggling in bed at 6am. This does not bother me one bit. I don’t like it at 5am, but anytime after 6, no problem.

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So, before going over how to calm your mind for a restful sleep, I’m gonna tell you the bad stuff that you probably already know. These awful symptoms of your sleep deprivation. It’s no joke ladies. And it has physical and mental repercussions. Besides the lack of sleep effecting our ability to think, to handle stress, and to maintain a good and healthy immune system, it actually kills! I’m not trying to scare you. Sleep is so important to our overall health, that when a study was conducted on rats in a laboratory,  the lab rats that were denied the chance to rest, died within two to three weeks. Yikes!

More scary statistics; all your lack of shut-eye time can be causing you, depression, heart disease, slurred speech, hypertension, irritability, tremors and slower reaction time. It’s also making you age, ladies.

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Before I cause you to jump off a bridge in panic, here are some useful tips to getting a restful sleep.

  • Try and maintain somewhat of a regular sleep pattern. Our bodies have a natural clock and a regular sleep schedule, so a regular wake time in the morning strengthens the cycle. It helps the onset of sleep at night.
  • Your bed is not an office. The only purpose of bed is for sleep and sex. DON’T use it as a workspace for sorting out your papers and projects. You should get into bed with the feeling of calm and relaxation. Not with a feeling of anxiety.
  • Exercise regularly. But don’t exercise late at night, as it raises your body temperature and makes you more alert.
  • Diet. This is really true. Eating a good diet and drinking plenty of water help regulate your body. Feed it the green leafy stuff, and NO DIET COLAS OR CAFFEINATED TEAS OR COFFEES BEFORE BED…. HELLO! Obviously. I would even hesitate having that decaf cappuccino at a restaurant, as even decaffeinated coffee contains traces of caffeine. Opt for hot water and lemon. It’s an acquired taste!!
  • Try and work out your issues in your head beforehand. Try and make a conscious effort to unplug from your office or what’s consuming your head when you walk in the door. I know this is difficult, I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park. But if there’s still things that worry you, or that you must get done tomorrow, keep  a “worry list” on your nigh table. If you panic, jot those things down. They’re off your mind, and on your worry list waiting for you tomorrow. This really helps.
  • DO NOT WATCH THE CLOCK. A good family friend Ricky told me this 8 years ago. Stop being a compulsive time checker. If I happen to wake, I NEVER look to see what time it is. That’s because, if it’s 4:30am, I simply will not return to sleep. I’ll think “hey, I only have 90 minutes left of sleep, what’s the point of returning.” When in reality, those 90 minutes are crucial.  Every extra ounce of sleep counts. Don’t watch the clock.
  • Get out of bed if you really can’t sleep. Studies do show that if you truly cannot fall asleep, it’s best not to force yourself. According to experts, if you do not fall back asleep in 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed and go to another room.  Try something relaxing like reading a book or listening to music.
  • And finally, SEX. But that was my husband’s tip. He says it works like a charm.

What sleep tips work for you? Share it with our readers!

And, Happy New Year to all our Jewish readers. May it be filled with health, happiness and lots of good things.

xoxEDxox

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22 Responses to “Shutting your brain off for a good night sleep”

  1. [...] as I turn 35 this Wednesday, April 7th, I’ve come to love the life I have created (even though a great night’s sleep is a thing of the past). I’ve realized that life is about enjoying the little things. I think [...]

  2. [...] Shutting Your Brain Off For a Good Night Sleep [...]

  3. [...] a “Worry List” and leave it on your nightstand. The Worry List worked as follows: When my thoughts kept me up [...]

  4. [...] My husband and I woke up at 8:30 am to smiling faces playing in the basement. It was the best sleep trick ever. I haven’t slept in until 8:30 in 12 [...]

  5. My own mantra is “Sleep is for the weak.”

    I had a serious problem with insomnia a few years back and I saw a sleep shrink. I got tons of great help, but one of the best things was to set aside a time of day to worry about stuff. So like, 4pm is worry time for 10 minutes. A worry free-for-all.

  6. foam earplugs…

    [...]Shutting your brain off for a good night sleep | WomenOnTheFence.com[...]…

  7. [...] same. But with my baby sleeping like a champ, I could no longer blame her for my own fatigue and insomnia. I was thrilled that she was sleeping well, but a smidge disappointed to lose my sleep scapegoat. [...]

  8. [...] physical and mental bodies are not meant to be physically active and under stress 24/7. That is why sleep is so imperative to good health. When our body gets the rest and downtime it requires, it gets refueled for [...]

  9. [...] is what you do when you actively rest.  Unlike the passive rest of vegging out or sleeping, active rest is conscious, directed, and entirely under your control.  Active rest allows you, in [...]

  10. [...] Odd Dreams. Do you know that your dreams usually get progressively more positive as you sleep, so that you wake up in a better mood than you were in when you went to bed (Rosalind Cartwright, PhD). But when you’re stressed, your body awakes more often, disrupting this process and allowing unpleasant imagery to recur all night. Improved sleep can help prevent this. For more info on getting better shut-eye time, click here. [...]

  11. [...] I turn 35 this Wednesday, April 7th, I’ve come to love the life I have created (even though a great night’s sleep is a thing of the past). I’ve realized that life is about enjoying the little things. I think [...]

  12. [...] rather than problem creating. For example, instead of complaining how exhausted you are, try and get to bed earlier and stop piling too much on your plate. Instead of telling people how fat you feel, make the effort [...]

  13. [...] Sleep. Make sure you get enough. This is crucial to your overall well being. You need enough shut-eye time. Everyone requires a different amount, but generally, it should be about 7-9 hours. [...]

  14. [...] Sleep. Make sure you get enough. This is crucial to your overall well being. You need enough shut-eye time. Everyone requires a different amount, but generally, it should be about 7-9 hours. [...]

  15. [...] do you worry? Do you toss and turn at night unable to rest your mind? Do you bite your nails? Do you experience muscle tension? Are you absent minded or have [...]

  16. [...] sleep. Get 8-10 hours a night of shut-eye time if you can. Sleep has much to do with staying fit. If you [...]

  17. [...] it’s the November Blues. Maybe you need to change up your routine. Maybe you just need some good sleep. Maybe it’s something a little more serious. I read another blogger’s comment this [...]

  18. [...] Your job is making you sick. It’s not worth it to get physically or mentally ill over a job. If you are, you have to put [...]

  19. [...] Your job is making you sick. It’s not worth it to get physically or mentally ill over a job. If you are, you have to put [...]

  20. JillNo Gravatar says:

    Does he like to read? I too have trouble sleeping so I invested in a little reading light that doesn’t disturb my bed-mate. It helps shut-off my brain of those wakeful thoughts and gets me back to sleep (usually).

  21. MommySaidWhat?No Gravatar says:

    I agree with no TV in the bedroom.

    My own mantra is “Sleep is for the weak.”

    I had a serious problem with insomnia a few years back and I saw a sleep shrink. I got tons of great help, but one of the best things was to set aside a time of day to worry about stuff. So like, 4pm is worry time for 10 minutes. A worry free-for-all.

    I never stuck to it, but what it DID do was when I was lying awake, worrying about shit, I’d just say to myself “Nope. Not now. It’ll have to wait until tomorrow at 4.” I’d write down what it was so I wouldn’t forget, and then shut it out of my head.

    The radio or a book on tape also works. Nothing so interesting you want to stay up to listen to, but something (not music) that interrupts your ability to really focus on anything else, like stress. I find late-night CJAD to be perfect (in Montreal or on the web).

    Yoga breathing also works like a charm.

  22. Grumble GirlNo Gravatar says:

    Mantra: I’ll get enough sleep when I’m dead.

    And no TV in the bedroom… sex-life killer!

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