Sleep help

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Sleep help

Post by Mel on Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:31 am

A topic to start us off here: Anyone have tips on getting to sleep faster?

Specifically, back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night/early in the morning. I can usually drift off pretty quickly at the beginning of the night, but I wake up at least a few times before I'm rested enough to get up, and it often takes at least a half hour if not longer for me to get back to sleep. With the baby waking me up permanently quite early in the morning, I'd really like not to lose that time beforehand.

What I'm already trying: Magnesium powder drink a little while before bed (seems to have helped a little but not a lot), guided relaxation/breathing exercises (sometimes helps, sometimes not), sleep mask, ear plugs. I also got this "natural" mouth spray that was supposed to be specifically for getting back to sleep, but didn't find it made any difference. I've also tried aromatherapy type aids with little effect. The trouble mostly seems to be physical tension and rambling thoughts (not stressed, most of the time), which the relaxation exercises help with, but there's often a point where I'm sleepy enough that I lose the thread of those, but not asleep enough that tension/thoughts can't creep back in and stop me from completely going to sleep. Razz

Open to any and all suggestions! And if others want help with sleep issues, feel free to add your own concerns here!
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Re: Sleep help

Post by azazel on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:40 pm

Damn, you're already doing breathing exercises. Those work like a charm on me. I just focus entirely on taking deep, very relaxed breaths, and most of the time that works.

When it doesn't work because bad thoughts I start self medicating with alcohol, or I don't sleep at all.

I don't recommend those options tho.

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Re: Sleep help

Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:44 pm

Generally I sleep like a particularly sleepy log, but I have a friend with anxiety issues who swears by melatonin.

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Re: Sleep help

Post by inertia on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:21 pm

I think I have always had trouble sleeping most of my life.

how is your normal diet? Are you eating okay? Is there anything upsetting your system? I gave up dairy and cut out a lot of sugar out of my diet and that helped my whole system which intern made me sleep better.

But with your restless mind... have you ever tried to write your thoughts down when you are having trouble alling a sleep?

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Re: Sleep help

Post by UristMcBunny on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:37 pm

One thing I do is have an enforced pre-bedtime wind down. An hour before bed, I change into pyjamas and make a warm, settling drink like herbal tea or ovaltine. Music gets turned down/changed to relaxing stuff/turned off. No TV. Maybe do 5 or 10 minutes of gentle, meditative yoga.

In bed, it depends on what my mood is like. If I'm feeling good, I'll turn the lights down, curl up in bed and lay on my stomach with the pillow under my head, doodling in a sketchbook. Generally within ten minutes I'll have passed out and the spouse-to-be will come along, remove the pencil from my hand, move the sketchbook back to the bedside cabinet and turn off the light. If my anxiety and what-have-you is playing up them drowning out intrusive thoughts becomes much more of a priority. Headphones, either music or white noise, and cuddling something soft and comforting. I have a microwavable wheat bag in the shape of a plush owl that is filled with lavender and hops, and it's incredibly effective - the hops, especially. That stuff knocks you out like a light. There's a reason "Hop Picker's Illness" was a hazard of the job.

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Re: Sleep help

Post by Werel on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:53 pm

This is a weird one, but usually works like a charm for me: close your eyes and visualize an image of circular motion. A toy train going around a circular track, a yo-to being twirled, just some abstract point moving in a circle, whatever. Force yourself to track the object continuously around the circle in a fluid way. I'm usually asleep after like thirty seconds of this, but I have no idea why it works or if it'd work for anyone else. Wink
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Re: Sleep help

Post by KMR on Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:50 pm

Something that's always worked for me (and I heard on the radio that research supposedly backs this up) is imagining some kind of visual imagery. Basically, if my thoughts are verbal they often keep me awake, but when my thoughts are visual, it's easier for me to drift off into sleep.

Personally, I like to make up fantasy stories in my head and then imagine scenes from them, but that may not work for everyone.
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Re: Sleep help

Post by Wondering on Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:56 pm

KMR wrote:Personally, I like to make up fantasy stories in my head and then imagine scenes from them, but that may not work for everyone.

I make up romance stories and imagine scenes from them. That usually puts me to sleep after a short bit, say 5–10 minutes.

But I bet if you're an author, thinking up stories might not be as relaxing.

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Re: Sleep help

Post by Conreezy on Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:36 pm

ASMR videos on youtube help wind my mind down before sleep. Same thing with a softly spoken guided mediatation.

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Re: Sleep help

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Thu Oct 02, 2014 6:14 am

I have a particular label on Bancamp that I keep open on my tablet all the time. I play one of a few psi-chill meditation type albums when I go to bed every night. The nice thing is that if I wake up, I can putter around for a few minutes, put the music back on drift right back off. It does a good job of short circuiting verbal thought processes and I already have stock mental images to go with each one.

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Re: Sleep help

Post by Mel on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:10 am

Thanks for all the suggestions! Smile You folks are great!

azazel wrote:Damn, you're already doing breathing exercises. Those work like a charm on me. I just focus entirely on taking deep, very relaxed breaths, and most of the time that works.

Yeah, most of the standard relaxation techniques don't work very well for me. I carry a lot of tension habitually and have always had trouble completely unwinding.

fakely mctest wrote:Generally I sleep like a particularly sleepy log, but I have a friend with anxiety issues who swears by melatonin.

Have tried this, didn't find it had a noticeable effect.

inertia wrote:how is your normal diet?  Are you eating okay? Is there anything upsetting your system?  I gave up dairy and cut out a lot of sugar out of my diet and that helped my whole system which intern made me sleep better.

But with your restless mind... have you ever tried to write your thoughts down when you are having trouble alling a sleep?

My diet isn't great right now because I'm resorting to a fair bit of convenience food due to lack of time due to baby... but I've had this issue for a few years now (it's just more frustrating with the baby enforcing an early wake-up where before I could have stayed in bed and tried to catch up longer) and I don't think the diet has made it worse. Definitely something I'm trying to work on though.

Usually the restless thoughts are pretty random and not entirely coherent, just sort of mental rambling... I suspect the action of trying to write them down would wake me up more.

UristMcBunny wrote:One thing I do is have an enforced pre-bedtime wind down.  An hour before bed, I change into pyjamas and make a warm, settling drink like herbal tea or ovaltine.  Music gets turned down/changed to relaxing stuff/turned off.  No TV.  Maybe do 5 or 10 minutes of gentle, meditative yoga.

In bed, it depends on what my mood is like.  If I'm feeling good, I'll turn the lights down, curl up in bed and lay on my stomach with the pillow under my head, doodling in a sketchbook.  Generally within ten minutes I'll have passed out and the spouse-to-be will come along, remove the pencil from my hand, move the sketchbook back to the bedside cabinet and turn off the light.  If my anxiety and what-have-you is playing up them drowning out intrusive thoughts becomes much more of a priority.  Headphones, either music or white noise, and cuddling something soft and comforting.  I have a microwavable wheat bag in the shape of a plush owl that is filled with lavender and hops, and it's incredibly effective - the hops, especially.  That stuff knocks you out like a light.  There's a reason "Hop Picker's Illness" was a hazard of the job.

I suspect that's a significant part of the problem: My husband works fairly late, so for us to have any time together in the evening after the baby's in bed, I'm usually having dinner, watching a show with him, etc. until pretty close to when I'm heading to bed. I'll have to do some thinking about how I might adjust our schedule to work in more winding down time.

Werel wrote:This is a weird one, but usually works like a charm for me: close your eyes and visualize an image of circular motion. A toy train going around a circular track, a yo-to being twirled, just some abstract point moving in a circle, whatever. Force yourself to track the object continuously around the circle in a fluid way. I'm usually asleep after like thirty seconds of this, but I have no idea why it works or if it'd work for anyone else. Wink

Hmmm, I will have to try that! Can't hurt! Smile

KMR wrote:Something that's always worked for me (and I heard on the radio that research supposedly backs this up) is imagining some kind of visual imagery. Basically, if my thoughts are verbal they often keep me awake, but when my thoughts are visual, it's easier for me to drift off into sleep.

Wondering wrote:
I make up romance stories and imagine scenes from them. That usually puts me to sleep after a short bit, say 5–10 minutes.

But I bet if you're an author, thinking up stories might not be as relaxing.

(Responding to both) Interesting point about visual vs. verbal thoughts! I'll have to pay attention to that and try to direct my mind toward the former. I do the storytelling thing (often imagining scenes from the books I'm writing), and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't... I'm going to guess it works less when I get caught up in the verbal "how would I write this bit" stuff rather than being able to just let the scene play out visually. But as Wondering suggests, it is difficult to shut the writing part of my brain off, heh.

Conreezy wrote:ASMR videos on youtube help wind my mind down before sleep.  Same thing with a softly spoken guided mediatation.

Hadn't heard of ASMR videos--will check those out!

Gentleman Johnny wrote:I have a particular label on Bancamp that I keep open on my tablet all the time. I play one of a few psi-chill meditation type albums when I go to bed every night. The nice thing is that if I wake up, I can putter around for a few minutes, put the music back on drift right back off. It does a good job of short circuiting verbal thought processes and I already have stock mental images to go with each one.

For some reason I tend to have more trouble sleeping with music than without. It's like my brain wants to give it a certain level of attention that gets in the way of drifting off.
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Re: Sleep help

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:26 am

Ohhhh, I have all the thoughts about this as I have had problems over the years. One technique that I find really useful is a type of physical awareness.

What you do is to focus on the sensation of one part of your body at a time, starting from the top of your head and moving downwards. You basically just experience the sensations from that part while allowing your mind to unspool its other thoughts.

By parts of body, by the way, I don't mean "head... then neck..." I mean scalp, then forehead frowny muscles, then eyelids, then ears, then nose cartilage, then squinty muscles, then... Should take about 20 minutes to get from top to toe, the more detailed the better. Don't forget the internal bits!

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