Sunday, June 3, 2012

Deal with Insomnia & Sleepless Nights

I suffer with insomnia in cycles. Sometimes I will doze off nearly immediately, but within an hour I am wide awake--for nearly half the night! Recently, I was on a 2 week cycle of not sleeping and I couldn't relate it to anything physical or emotional. So I did some research and discovered a hunch of mine was true--our technology can drive bouts of insomnia and it has nothing to do with worrying if we are missing a contact on our smartphones.

TVs, computer screens, and today's smart phones--what do they have in common? Answer--illuminated screens. Yes, not just the content (which can keep our minds active) but the mere illumination (staring directly at a light source) has an affect on our body's ability to wind down and get restful sleep. The answer: Turn off all illuminated devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed. (BBC Report here)

If you feel the need for some mental stimulus, read a physical book. But not horror, suspense or anything that cause angst or conflict in the mind. Light-hearted, uplifting reading fits the bill very nicely because it puts us in a restful & contented frame of mind. My wife enjoys the Chicken Soup series but you may have other interests. (For me, I can't even read technical publications, which are my favorite, because it causes too much thinking when what I need is to relax the brain.)

There are numerous other suggestions that can be found on the web to handle insomnia such as warm bath (not shower); soft music (even nature sound-tracks such as rain, ocean or the like); journaling (not necessarily a diary, but a brain dump of what you did during the day, the uncompleted work you need to handle, etc.) What jouraling does is that it allows your mind to "let go" of everything that is bothering it.

Finally, just when you go to bed, take SLOW DEEP breaths. This is scientifically proven to relax muscles. Don't hyperventilate, just a few, easy deep breaths. After doing this, close your eyes and use mental imagery to project yourself to your most peaceful surroundings. For me, it is Big Sur, CA. You'll be surprised how quickly you will doze off.

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