How to Get Some Sleep

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on November 13, 2007
Tags: ,

counting sheep.

The other week, Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project linked to an older post of hers on getting better sleep. As I’ve had trouble turning my brain off as of late, spending a good portion of my evenings tossing and turning and generally agitating my exhausted husband, I read Rubin’s post with great interest. A number of her suggestions made absolute sense to me, and I’ve started putting some of them to practice:

  • “Exercise most days, even if it’s just to take a walk.” (Does my power walking through the subway tunnels count? I’ve also started doing 20-minute callanetics sessions in my living room three mornings a week.)
  • “No caffeine after 7:00 p.m.” (I’ve actually just recently started drinking coffee more heavily. I’m trying to rein myself in to no more than two cups a day, with absolutely none after 7 p.m.)
  • “If your mind is racing…write down what’s on your mind.” (This is an awesome bit of advice, though that one night i kept flipping on my lamp and jotting down notes for the next day’s editorial meeting probably made my husband near-homicidal. But the racing mind is one of my biggest problems.)

There are a number of other suggestions Rubin has, some of which I struggle with (the far-from-tidy bedroom, for one). You should check out her post if you struggle with sleeplessness as I do.

The problem of insomnia is a common one, as evidenced by recent articles like those in the New York Times, which touts the positive effects of cognitive behavioral treatment:

The behavioral strategies for better sleep are deceptively simple, and that’s one reason why many people don’t believe they can make a difference. One of the most effective methods is stimulus control. This means not watching television, eating or reading in bed [oy, the hubby yells at me for these last two all the time!]. Don’t go to bed until you are sleepy. Get up at the same time every day, and don’t nap during the day. If you are unable to sleep, get out of bed after 15 minutes and do something relaxing, but avoid stimulating activity and thoughts [does this mean the crossword puzzles are a no-no?].

So-called sleep hygiene is also part of sleep therapy. This includes regular exercise, adding light-proof blinds to your bedroom to keep it dark and making sure the bed and room temperatures are comfortable. Eat regular meals, don’t go to bed hungry and limit beverages, particularly alcohol and caffeinated drinks, around bedtime.

Such tips seem simple enough, but I can’t help wanting to find a self-help book that will cure me entirely (it’s my nature). So homework assignment #1: I’ll try these tips for the next week, and you give me all your best book recommendations on the topic of insomnia.


One Response to 'How to Get Some Sleep'

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  1. neonfoxtongue said,

    re: caffeine. If you buy coffee at a self-serve place or your office has both regular and decaf, fill a cup with 2/3 to 3/4 of decaf and then a ‘shot’ of regular. You get a little buzz, but it wears off by end of day.

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