A few years ago I was desperate enough to submit to a sleep study. My wife would probably tell you that it was because I was irritable, not desperate, and that she scheduled the whole thing. She might be right…she usually is.
After arriving at the clinic, a bright-eyed lad named Kyle put about 100 wires around my neck. He glued a few dozen more to my scalp. Then I was told to lie down next to a machine that whirred and gurgled constantly. There was enough light to read by in the room and the short bed had a footboard that forced me to sleep with my knees bent about 18 inches more than I would have preferred.
It was the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. Insomnia relief? Hardly. They didn’t get any data, since I began pulling the wires out of my head about two hours in. Kyle seemed irritated with me. He probably gets a lot of practice escorting sleepy people out of the clinic in the middle of the night.
So I am turning to the smartest people I know instead: my readers.
It has never been easy for me to sleep. As a child I went through the whole “I don’t want to go to bed I’m not tired!” phase, of course, but even when I got old enough to want to go to sleep, I’ve never had too much luck.
Tourette’s is definitely one of my big reasons for insomnia. It is probably the only factor that I can’t control all of the time. When I lie down to go to sleep, my body continues to do something. Maybe it’s just a toe curl, maybe my tongue is doing something odd, but it’s usually enough to keep me from relaxing to the point where I drift off.
First of all, let’s look at insomnia symptoms.
Either you can’t fall asleep or you wake up and then can’t go back to sleep. There are more scientific definitions, but I don’t care about them.
I would like to spend today looking at some of the other reasons why people (any of you) can’t sleep and talk about some treatments for insomnia, or other successes you have had.
Too much to think about
The pace of life is rarely slow, am I right? I am right at least as far as my life is concerned. Between getting up, going to work, doing my writing, working out, trying to have some social time with my family, and getting my pleasure reading in, winding down can be a challenge.
Sometimes it feels like the only time I have to think is when I would rather be sleeping. Whether I want to think or not. Lying there in the dark is often when I get most of my planning done, when I work out problems that I haven’t had time to focus on, and when I worry about dying (that doesn’t happen often, and usually when I’m half-awake).
So is there a home remedy for insomnia in this case? The most common things I hear and read about are meditation, breathing, relaxation drills, and various combinations of them.
Diet for insomnia
I’m not guiltless, either. I drink too much caffeine, although I’m trying to scale it way back and not drink after 12 noon. I often eat too late at night and then my digestion is not happy with me when I suddenly try to be still and calm.
For those of you who are tuned in to what you eat, how does nutrition affect your sleeping habits? Does it?
When we got married we bought a huge California king size bed. This was the first time in my adult like that I had ever slept in a bed that my feet didn’t hang hang off of. It was glorious. It still is, although I’m starting to wonder if we should replace it. It’s been nearly 9 years.
Every morning when I wake up–I do sleep every night, just not as much as I want–I try to gauge how my body feels. Then I try to determine if I’m associating my bed with new aches or pains in the morning.
So, for you bed-heads. Any advice on mattresses that prevent insomnia?
Your sleep schedule
One thing that all the books (and Kyle) preach is that you form sleep rituals. Always lie down at the same time. Always brush your teeth 10 minutes before getting into bed. As a pamphlet stated, “Only use your bed for sleep and loving.” Ha! Whoever wrote that does not know the joys of reading in bed.
My sleep schedule is not as perfect as it should be. I usually know that if I lie down at ten, I will still be awake at midnight. I certainly won’t fall asleep while I’m reading, but I feel like if I’m awake I should be getting something done, not just staring at the ceiling.
I know, I know…whiner.
So: Is there a cure for insomnia? Are there treatments for insomnia that work for everyone? In your travels through bedland, what has worked the best for you?
Also, do not let Kyle hook wires up to you unless you’re planning on staying the whole night. It makes him grumpy.
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