Do you ever have trouble falling asleep or staying in asleep? I’m pretty sure you might. According to statistics, a staggering 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders! That’s astonishing!!! Well, it’s no wonder. Think about it. The world is at a constant unrest. You have the news, the internet and of course the people in your ear telling you not to listen to either of those, but listen to them, “the world is out to get you!” That in itself is worrisome. Add every day life of a job, kids, bills, school, social life and of course, by the end of the day our minds are racing. Your body is tired and wants to lay down, but your mind is not done computing. It’s kinda like the little loading circle that goes round and round on your computer as it tries to load information. It just keeps going round and round and you want it to hurry up and stop. Lol. Same goes for you trying to fall asleep. Let me see if I can help with a few tips I’ve learned over the years.
I guess it can depend on the “Why” you are not falling asleep or staying asleep. Is it because you are having money troubles, personal issues, work issues, or even physical pain? In the past I’ve probably had all these issues and I’ve done pretty well at conquering sleep. I’m so focused because I know that proper sleep is one of the best things we can to improve our health or at least keep it in 'check'.
Do you find yourself waking up throughout the night because of a pain in some body part? If it’s hard to sleep, I first suggest seeing the doctor. I happen to have had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was a teenager. I’ve been in constant pain for more than 20 years. Some pains you get used to having, but I can give you an example: For a long while I had excruciating pain in my left shoulder. Sleeping on the left side was very painful. Nope, that wasn’t gonna work. I tried switching to the right side which was not my usual and kinda awkward, but still painful because my arm seemed to fall forward into a bad postion. Lying on my back was not much better. Nothing was working. At first I thought ‘it’s just my arthritis, nothing I can do’. But eventually I went to the doctor. I was given a cortisone injection, and that seemed to do the trick! I felt better and was able to sleep again with more minimal pain. The pain did eventually come back. I ended up in physiotherapy and realized it was my neck that was actually causing the shoulder pain. This also helped abundantly. So please see someone, because you never know if you could easily solve that problem.
It's challenging to sleep through pain. Extra pillows have helped me in the past where I can rest an arm or put a leg in a comfy position to give just enough time to help fall asleep. Melatonin may be a helpful answer. Melatonin is a tiny pill that you can dissolve under the tongue for quick absorption into the body. It‘s something our bodies make naturally, but with all the use of tablets, phones and devices later at night, our body can suffer a lack of it. You can supplement this with the small pill, over the counter in the vitamin section of your drug store. It’s not something that should be used long term, but if you can sleep through some of your pain, that right there could be just what your body needed to heal. Sleep is key to healing.
Our brain is an amazing part of our body that allows us to live, but at the same time, has waaaaaay too much control over our own well-being. It works with us through the day and then against us when we try to shut it down at night. How can our brain be so smart and so dumb at the same time? Lol. Doesn’t it know…. It NEEDS Sleep!!! Or maybe we are just overloading it like a computer download. The files we add are just too big. Anyway, we can do this! We can shut it down, give it a break and it may just work better and better for us if we can just get some sleep already. Sheish.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We don’t let our brain shut down. We fight sleep, but why? Maybe we need to stop asking so many questions and just let our brain rest. I used to be so focused on my dreams. I was always in the lighter phases of sleep just waiting to wake up and analyze my dreams. I would tell people my dreams each day. It became a focus for me. It took many years to realize, oops, I was causing myself physical pain by not getting the proper stage of sleep. I STOPPED telling people my dreams, for the most part. Once in a while I do allow myself the indulgence, but it's rare. By not telling people my dreams meant I was not so focused on them and it worked! Now I get a deeper, more restful and peaceful sleep. YAY!
TOO Much on the Brain. Unlike the pets you see in the pictures here, we have so much on our minds. Animals sleep well because they don’t have as much crammed into their brains on a daily basis as we humans.
When we lay our head down on the pillow, we’re suddenly in a quiet place(well, unless you have a spouse that is already in bed….then there may be a loud snoring noise that we either have to drown out by focusing on something else, get used to it, or put in some soft ear plugs... OH, or a little kick or poke is not a terrible option either 😉 ). Anyway, for the most part, it’s pretty quiet compared to the day time. The animals are sleeping, the kids, the television - most noise is to a minimum. Suddenly we’re left with only our thoughts. That’s when we need to have some control. If we don’t, we are screwed! Our brain will go through all the things of the day, yesterday, last year, tomorrow, next year, and then move on to perhaps even other peoples’ issues. If we don’t put a stop to it, our brain will work overtime. We need to give it permission to let go and fall asleep. It takes some practice. I find the first step is to try and think logically about all the things that are going through your mind. Worry - worrying at bed time, about things which we cannot change. Ask ourselves, “What can we do about this RIGHT NOW?” Right Now? Probably Nothing! Therefore, let’s table this thought. Seriously tell yourself, ”No, now is not the time to try and work through this.” If it’s money problems, well they won’t solve themselves during these hours. These hours are for making your brain strong in order to solve those problems during the waking hours. Period! Don’t let your mind do it! You will just be more crabby and less effective the next day. If it’s relationship or family, friend, kid issues, once again, ‘how can we solve this RIGHT NOW?’ We most likely cannot, so it’s not worth losing sleep over. Train your mind for that question and the answer.
Maybe it’s something to do with business, and suddenly you have the greatest ideas while laying in bed. Yep, I know the feeling. We have all solved all the world’s problems while laying there trying to fall asleep. Well, I suggest you get a pen and paper beside your bed. If you do actually have the best idea in the world, make the note, even on your phone. Do it, and look at it in the morning. If it’s amazing, GREAT. If it sucks, thankfully you got it off your mind in order to let yourself fall quickly back asleep. It’s a new day, go conquer the world. I’ve been let down more times than I care to say when, in bed. I thought of the greatest idea ever! I would nurture the thought and tell myself how amazing of an idea it was, so when I get up I will put it to great use. I wake up in the morning only to have forgotten what it was. Uggg. How could I have been so smart, and now??? Nothin'. The reality is, it may not even have been that good of an idea, but in that state of half asleep half awake, our mind plays tricks on us.
I know you’ve also probably heard the advice not to have the light of the phone or computers, etc., for up to two hours before it’s time to sleep. I‘m not sure this is realistic in this day and age. We even read books on a monitor! And, Majority of people use their phone as an alarm clock, therefore it will be pretty close by each night. My suggestion is to keep it on silent so you don’t hear any notifications, as those middle of the night advertising emails are truly annoying. Also keep the phone screen-side-down. This way you also won’t see it light up for every notification and possibly wake you from some much needed zzz’s. And if you can’t sleep in the middle of the night, never, ever, ever pick up your device and pop onto social media to let the world know you can’t sleep. That’s even worse than focusing on telling people your dreams. There’s no way you are actually gonna get good advice from others who are up at that time. They are in the same boat and have no clue how to fall asleep well. Stay quiet and do some breathing techniques. Focus only on one thing like your breathing or not letting your tongue touch the roof of your mouth. This could go on for an hour or so, but I guarantee you will eventually bore your mind enough that you will fall back asleep. Even a little sleep is better than stimulating yourself roaming around social media.
My all time favourite hack for falling asleep is a counting one. It’s so simple. It’s counting to four and that’s it...with a twist. I got this advice somewhere along the way and it has been hands down, best trick for me. Through this post, we have discovered that we need to do something about all the information swirling 'round in our heads, right? At the end of each day, you need to find something else to put in it’s place. It needs to be something boring enough to let your brain turn off and fall asleep, but interesting enough to keep out all those useless thoughts at such ungodly hours. Sometimes, I let myself have all the crazy thoughts, but only for a minute or two. Then I tell my mind, it’s time to turn off. That’s when the counting hack comes into play.
Whether it’s right at the beginning of bed time or if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can put this trick to work for you. Count to four in your head, then mix up the sequence again and again. Eg. 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,4,3 - 1,3,2,4 - 1,3,4,2. I do a very patterned sequence, but it doesn’t really matter. As long as you don’t just count 1,2,3,4 for each repeat. That’s too boring and you will find your brain wandering off back into the unnecessary thoughts. Mixing it up seems to be just interesting enough to stay focused and just boring enough for your brain to turn off and fall asleep. It takes some practice but don’t give up. Your brain will get to the point that when it hears you do this in your head it will say, “oh no she’s doing the boring count again. Uggg, We never win trying to distract her from this. Let’s go to sleep“ And you will eventually fall asleep faster and faster each time. Trust me, stick with it and you won’t regret it.
Here are my tips in a nutshell:
Stop recounting your dreams - gives them far too much credit
Try melatonin for short periods
Cell Phones on silent and screen side down for zero notifications
Stop solving the worlds problems(wait until morning for that)
Train your mind the “what can we do about this RIGHT NOW?”…nothing
Counting…. With a twist
There are most likely hundreds of ideas you could find on the internet or elsewhere, to help with sleep. I definitely didn’t mention even half of them. These are just my advice. If you feel it can work for you, it makes me very happy. If you don’t like these ideas, it’s ok. There’s still hope for you to find something that meets your needs. You are not doomed. You will find the answer that best suits you. Your body deserves it.
Thanks for tuning in 😊
Your Neat Life
Professional Organizer & Interior Consultant