Sleepless Nights: What Keeps You Up?
It's 4 am. The house is quiet; my children are snuggled in bed, soundly asleep. My husband sleeps peacefully next to me. The house is cool and comfortable, so why am I awake?
Having trouble sleeping
Apparently, my body thinks 4 am is a good time to get up and seize the day. I try to reason with my own mind. "It's too early, and the birds aren't even up yet. You've only had 5 hours of sleep, and that's not enough to function for the day."
Of course, my body and mind do not listen to me. So here I lie in my bed staring at the ceiling until I get bored, and then I pick up my phone to burn my retinas with the blinding light on my phone screen. I search endlessly through social media and even play some games, but sleep still eludes me. Picking up my phone was a bad idea, but what else could I do?
Staying asleep is a challenge
Why am I awake in the first place? I'm exhausted all day and then can't sleep at night. If you're like me, falling asleep is not the issue. I fall asleep as soon as I close my eyes. I also sleep well for about 4-5 hours and then wake up.
Do you have difficulty staying asleep at night?
Deciding against taking sleeping pills
After speaking with my doctor, she offered me some pills to help me sleep through the night. But not without a warning. My doctor warned me to be sure to take it when I'm about to sleep because it can cause hallucinations. What? So I will sleep "better," but I might see Elvis in my room. No, thank you.
Tips to help improve the quality of your sleep
Okay, back to the drawing board and on my own. So, for the next few months, I went about improving the quality of my sleep naturally. I tried a few different techniques and found some that have helped me, so I wanted to share them.
Pain management: getting comfortable
Pain is probably the most common reason I wake up at night or can't sleep deeply. I can't seem to find a comfortable sleeping position. So your bed is essential and needs to be comfortable for you. Ensure you have suitable pillows, but not too many, or that can cause more pain.
I must sleep on a wedge pillow to take the pressure off my hips. Also, a pillow between your knees can be comfortable if you are a side sleeper. The goal is to keep pressure off the sore areas. Make sure you only have 1 or 2 pillows under your head, or your back may hurt, and you may get headaches.
If your doctor approves, an over-the-counter pain medication may work for you. Or even some supplements can help with the pain.
The room environment
The room environment is also a significant factor in sleep. It should be a cool temperature or, even better, cold in your room. A running fan helps cool the room; its white noise can also help you sleep. There are no lights, except maybe in the bathroom, so you can see in the middle of the night.
Sleep stories or soundscapes
Are you having trouble falling asleep? Try reading, meditating, or listening to nature soundscapes and (my favorite) sleep stories. Some of my favorites are:
- Calm (app)
- Slumber (app)
- Michelle's Sanctuary (podcast)
- Get Sleepy (podcast)
All of these are tools that can help you fall back to sleep, too. You can purchase earbuds specifically for rest on Amazon.
What helps you sleep?
The last bit of advice is to take a nap during the day. Sometimes, that can be my only saving grace to keep me from walking around like a zombie all day.
What are your tips for helping you fall or stay asleep?
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?