Doing Life Together

bed-945881_1280Sleep: We need it and want it, so it’s exhausting and frustrating when it doesn’t happen. You wake up at 2:00 a.m., stare at the ceiling and toss and turn while continuously checking the clock. Please, let me go back to sleep!

First, let’s cover a few of the basics. Did you drink alcohol before bed? Alcohol is known to disrupt sleep. Yes, it might make you sleepy when you first go to bed, but it a sleep cycle disrupter. So try cutting out alcohol and see if you sleep better. Also eating late and eating heavy meals can wake you up due to indigestion, so try a lighter meal. And certainly watch the caffeine intake hours before bedtime.

OK now, let’s say you just wake up and can’t get back to sleep. What helps?

  1. It appears mom’s advice to drink warm milk can actually work. If you are lactose intolerant, try a warm cup of tea-Chamomile and lemon balm are good options.Both are soothing and can ease insomnia.
  2. When I reached menopause, I realized one important factor of better sleep–cooling down the room. When it is hot, we toss and turn and don’t get great sleep. Experts recommend temperatures between 60-67 degrees to really sleep well. While that might challenge your cooling bills, it will help cool down your core body temperature, making sleep easier.
  3. Eliminate all light sources. This means cell phones, TV and LEDs. Dark is needed for good sleep so that the brain isn’t tricked to thinking it is morning and wakes up–digital lights can do that. And here is a tip for those of you that can’t part with your phone–a company actually sells sleeping bags for phones.
  4. This is my most helpful tip for those of us that have running lists of things to do in our head. On those nights I wake up thinking about all I need to accomplish the next day, I grab paper and pencil and write a list. It works! It tells my taskmaster brain to go back to sleep.
  5. Think about adding exercise to your day. Exercise promotes healthy sleep. Sometimes our bodies need to be more tired!
  6. Get out of bed. Do something quiet and relaxing like reading and don’t worry about not sleeping. This will usually make you sleepy! For those of you that wake up with body tension, try a little progressive muscle relaxation in which you practice tensing and relaxing your muscles.
  7. Finally, develop a bedtime routine and your body will begin to respond to it. It’s called sleep hygiene. Get the room dark, empty your bladder, get your cell phone out of sight and relax your mind by meditating on the goodness of the day and the blessings you have. Read your Bible so that the last thing on your mind is the goodness of God.

Remember waking up in the middle of the night is normal, just annoying, unless you have an undiagnosed sleep problem. If this continues with no relief despite making changes, see a sleep specialist for help.

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