Dealing Effectively with Insomnia

“Waking up was a daily cruelty, an affront, and she avoided it by not sleeping.”
― Gregory Maguire, A Lion Among Men

by Michael Corthell

Sleep, peaceful, restful sleep. Many people say, ''I love my bed.'' What they mean by that is, ''I love a good night's sleep.'' Not being able to sleep or sleep well is called insomnia. And it is on a continuum from mild to severe.

''I've always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.''
―David Benioff

Severe insomnia is a medical condition and you should be counseled by your physician, if you haven’t already. Discuss your insomnia with she or he to make sure there is no treatable medical reason for your poor sleep. There is a long list of conditions that can cause insomnia like symptoms, including anxiety, depression, hyperthyroidism, Lyme disease, and some heart conditions.

With that disclaimer, let's look at some tips to help you practice good sleep hygiene.

As always the number one thing to do is keep a positive mindset. Think healthy, be healthy. Always know that you will get good sleep, not, ''I just wish I could get a good night's sleep.''

Eat well, eat right. Practice good nutrition. I highly recommend becoming a vegan. There are only good reasons for doing so. You will feel and look better. You will probably live a longer, happier life plus you will help re-create a healthier planet.

Get active, be active...EXECISE your machine! Self-explanatory I think.

Stay consistent. Your mind and body craves homeostasis, physiological balance. Keep your sleep hygiene regular with the same wake-up time and bedtime.

Don't watch a screen in bed. No television, no tablet and no phone. Again self-explanatory.

Limit naps during the day. You are stealing from that night's sleep. The exception maybe a 15 min 'power nap'. There are some studies that show this can be helpful to boost productivity.

Take action. If you are unable to fall asleep or if you can't get back to sleep within a half hour, leave your bedroom and go to another room. Do light activities when you change rooms. Avoid turning on the television or computer, do work, balance your checkbook or call your friends in France. Try listening to quiet music, pray or meditate. BUT, if these methods fail get some work done. Don't waste time, it is irreplaceable.

Something to remember is that that no one ever died after one bad nights sleep. Most people require at least 7 hours of sleep. Medical research studies show it is harmful to your health when you are always sleep deprived. But, if you do get less sleep every once in a while, it is not an excuse for poor performance. Think and be positive. You can still be effective if you’ve slept 5 hours once in a while. Just don’t make it a habit.

*Lastly, the point with getting good sleep is not to overthink it. Find out what rountines and work habits are best for you. Make it second nature and your good sleep will become automatic. Then you to will, ''Love your bed.''

*How to Beat Insomnia When You Have Chronic Pain

Why do we sleep?
by Russell Foster

Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages -- and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.