NOT a post about bed bugs...
How'd you sleep last night? If your answer was "awful" or "not at all," it seems you're in very good company: the CDC says Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic.
I've suffered from insomnia for years. I once went 2 weeks without being able to sleep at all. After the 3rd or 4th night, you start going crazy. Everything seems surreal. Physically, your body needs sleep. Actual REM cycle sleep where you go through all the sleep phases. This supports your immune system and your brain's physical health, and there are even some vitamins your body processes more efficiently when you sleep properly.
But there you are, tossing and turning, your mind won't turn off. Eventually you assume you won't be able to fall asleep, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So what do you do?
I have several different tactics for dealing with my insomnia:
1. I love Netflix on my iPod. If my brain just won't shut up, I turn on something I've seen a million times (Black Adder, Futurama, any number of movies), and the repetition lulls my brain into sleep. If nothing else, it gives me something to keep me occupied while my eyes are closed. Netflix > laying there staring at the ceiling. I am also a big fan of having a small TV and DVD player in the room (not everything is on Netflix's instant queue). I don't need to see what's on -- it just needs to be something my brain knows by heart (Simpsons, LOTR, Amelie). I'm usually asleep within 15 minutes.
2. Do you know who Belleruth Naparstek is? If you have insomnia or panic attacks, this is the woman you need to listen to. If I feel like I might have a problem with sleeping before I even get into bed, I listen to this. I really don't care how New Age-y guided imagery is. The fact is that it works. By focusing your mind on your breathing patterns and relaxing your body one part at a time, you essentially are put into a mode of light meditation. And this woman's voice is so soothing. If you make it through the entire guided imagery section (I hardly ever do), there's also about 30 minutes of soothing music to keep your brain occupied. If you don't want to listen to the same guided imagery session repeatedly, there's an app for that!
3. Speaking of apps, Chelsea turned me on to a fantastic white noise app -- Relax Melodies. There's a free version and a paid version (around $2); both are fantastic, but the paid version has about 3 times as many sounds, as well as a whole host of binaural tones. Binaural tones are frequencies played from one ear to the other (only works on headphones); depending on the frequency chosen, they are supposed to bring on a meditative state or dreamless sleep or a sleep with dreams. My favorite combination is Campfire + Thunder + Slow Waves + Dreamless Sleep binaural tone.
4. Pandora has a Yoga Radio collection that is pretty relaxing.
5. Mountain Rose Herbs sells two different tinctures for getting to sleep. Sleep Care is an alcohol-based tincture, containing Valerian, Wild Lettuce, Blue Vervain, and Hops. If I take this before I go to bed, I'm guaranteed at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I don't feel groggy when I wake up, and I don't have that awful drugged-sleep feeling. If you need one step up, they also sell a glycerine-based tincture containing Valerian and Poppy. I tried this for the first time last night. I felt very sleepy within 15 minutes of taking it. I got into bed, put on Pandora's Yoga Radio station, and I slept the sleep of the dead. I woke up this morning feeling a bit drugged, but I slept all night. And when something woke me up (like a dog kicking me in the face), I fell right back asleep. You can use Sleep Care every night, but I would save the Poppy Valerian tincture for those nights when nothing else will work. And I don't think I'd take the two together.
Dec 20, 2012
NOT a post about bed bugs...