One of the most difficult challenges in life is when you just can’t sleep. Over the years I have had so many people who feel lethargic and have difficulties thinking because they are just too tired. Their fatigue also causes safety issues as they are not able to focus on tasks such as running equipment and driving. Also, their memories are impaired – usually because they aren’t able to pay attention long enough to store information.
Here are some hints to help you if sleep is an issue in your life:
- Analyze the setting – Stand at the doorway of your bedroom and pretend you have never been there before. If you were in a hotel, would you find this room relaxing? If not, what can you do to improve it? Perhaps the colour isn’t soothing. Are the mattress, pillow and bedding comfortable? Remember, you are going to spend about a third of your life in this room so make it lovely.
- Remove distractions – Make sure that there isn’t any noise in the bedroom that will be annoying. Cover the windows so that light is blocked out. Take out all the technology. Bed should be for sleep and sex only. It is not the place to check your emails or balance your chequing account. Just as you go to a bathroom for specific tasks, you need to use your bedroom for specific tasks.
- Plan and honour a routine – Babies do much better when they have a regular schedule. So do adults! Choose a bedtime and train yourself to do the same things at the same times every night. Substitute a warm bath in the evening to bring on drowsiness rather than having a shower in the morning. The husband of my friend has his lights on a timer so even when we are visiting there, we all know when it is bedtime and respect the reminder.
- Say what you want – It is strange, but our brains tend to deliver the things that we say out loud. If you catch yourself saying “I can’t sleep. I have always had problems sleeping”, your brain will take this literally and give you what you are asking for. Instead, repeatedly say “I am practicing good sleep hygiene so that my mind and body can rest”.
- Write it down – Before you get into bed, make a list of the things that you will think about tomorrow and let them go. If you wake up in the night and have something on your mind, add it to the list. Ideas go around and around in your head but when you write them down, there is a beginning and an ending. Also, with this practice, you will be set to go in the morning as you already have an agenda for that day.
- Good tired – I think there are two types of tired – physically tired and mentally tired. Seniors often state that they need less sleep than in the past because they are not doing as much movement as in younger days. When you get some exercise, your body is a “good tired” at night so sleep comes easily. Mental fatigue, however, is a different story as you usually can’t get enough sleep to feel rested and free from the thoughts. Instead, you need to deal with your psychological problems so your mind can let things go of troubles.
Ancient scriptures state that sleep is a gift. But as with all gifts, you need to accept, open it and enjoy what is inside.
This week, make a commitment to do at least one of the tips that I have written about. Better yet, if you have sleep issues, try more than one.
And if you are still struggling, perhaps booking an appointment with a psychologist will help you to deal with whatever it is that is stealing your sleep.