Like most women beyond a certain age I would rather not admit to, I have been having trouble sleeping. Well not so much falling asleep, I could do that at 9 pm no problem – but staying asleep and getting back to sleep when I do wake up is a different matter altogether.
As I have an analytical mind, I tend to confront problems with research and a well thought out plan. After doing my homework, I tried getting up and watching tv for 30 minutes and progressive muscle relaxation therapy (which sounded promising) but nothing worked.
And the more I read, the more frustrated I became because just about every article I read was the same. Either my diet was to blame, or I had sleep apnea, or I simply needed to turn up the air conditioning and meditate. Sure you try meditating at three in the morning when you are completely stressed out that you have to get up in three hours and will be exhausted all day!
Surely someone out there had a better idea of how to handle this? And then I found an article that suggested that the only reason I was not sleeping was because “I” was undisciplined and allowing myself to stress about problems and issues instead of going back to sleep.
Me to blame? Impossible … but I read on anyway. And then I found other articles that calmly pointed out that most of the time it is factors under your own control that affect the quality of your sleep. And I thought about this for a bit and I realized that if this was the case, then I could sleep better simply by deciding to. Sure enough … that very night I caught myself rolling around at 1:30 in the morning with a thousand thoughts streaming through my brain. And I thought – it’s a faucet and I can just tell myself to turn the noise off.
Great … silence … now what to think about…
Ok so maybe I am not a Zen master after all. But I realized I could decide to think about one calm very happy thought and just think about that and nothing else. And if nothing else I would at least be able to relax for a change. And then the strangest thing happened …. I WENT BACK TO SLEEP !!! And even more exciting is the fact that doing this has continued to work night after night.
So here is my new strategy – if I sleep; I sleep. I am over obsessing about it and I am only going to focus on relaxing. And to this end I bought myself two good quality mattress pads which I placed on the bed on top of each other (one for support on the bottom and one for cooling comfort on top of it) and I have to say my bed now feels entirely different and is a lot more comfortable.
I am also on the hunt for some tart cherry juice concentrate to mix into my herbal tea because it is a natural source of melatonin. According to Dr. Oz “melatonin is a hormone produced in your brain’s pineal gland. When it gets dark outside, your eyes sense the lighting change and starts making this hormone, which communicates to your body that it is time to prepare to sleep. Melatonin helps maintain your daily body rhythms, and is an important antioxidant in the body known to fight cancer.”
I am certain that for some people, insomnia is a sign of a serious health problem. If in doubt, consult your doctor; but if you are in good health give this simple relaxation technique a try and let me know how you get on. For further reading try one of the following:
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/insomnia/AN01611