Not getting enough sleep is frustrating and keeps us from being at the top of our game. We snap at our kids, are irritable on the job, and do not enjoy life to the fullest. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that 25% of Americans do not get enough sleep and another 10% have chronic insomnia.
Lack of sleep contributes to developing chronic conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Depression can cause insomnia or be the by-product of sleep deprivation. If you are feeling the blues, consider seeing your doctor to determine if it is clinical depression that may benefit from medication, or the stressors of life interfering with sleep.
- Be like Goldilocks and sleep in just the right bed. Your sleep environment may be interfering with dreamland. If your bed is too firm, you could be waking up when you get stiff. My mother developed a back ache with a too soft bed, which made sleeping more challenging. Keep your room dark and banish electronics with their various lights to another room. Keep the temperature in your bedroom on the cool side, particularly if you waking up with night sweats.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Varying it drastically on days off is similar to having jet lag. Your body likes rhythms, and this includes a sleep one.
- Write in a journal, make to-do lists, whatever it takes to empty your mind so you can drift off to sleep. Some people keep a small notebook by their beds to write down ideas or tasks, so they are not trying to remember them for the next day.
- Eat dinner earlier in the evening so that you are not digesting it throughout the night. During sleep, several hormones are released that help to renew cells and digesting a late dinner diverts energy from these important functions. You may wake up feeling sluggish. Avoid middle-of-the night trips to the bathroom by limiting liquids before bedtime.
- I keep Bach’s Sleep Rescue Remedy in the drawer of my nightstand and squirt some in my mouth if I am having trouble drifting off to sleep (keeping the light off). It is a homeopathic medicine that has been around for decades. Tryptophan is another one I take if I am wide awake at bedtime. Some people find Valerian helpful, but I wake up in the middle of the night when it wears off. Prescription sleeping pills are an option, but can lead to dependence on them. I go for more natural sleep remedies.
- Physical exercise earlier in the day gets rid of tensions and promotes a deeper sleep. Taking a walk in the evening relaxes me. I do Tai Chi and Qi gong to focus my mind, plus get my energy flowing and keep it from getting blocked (which can lead to headaches for me). Yoga is great for stretching muscles and clears the mind. Discover what works best for you.
- Different therapies help insomnia. Several massage therapists have told me about their divorced clients becoming more relaxed, and sleeping better after treatments. Foot massages (reflexology) enables me to have deeper sleep. Learn meditation to clear the mind and have the body feel lighter. Some people told me that reconnecting with their faith permeates all aspects of life, including feeling calmer and more restful sleep.
- Respect your circadian cycle. I used to sleep long and deeply when I went to bed after midnight in my early twenties. I worked evening shift and went out for dinner, dancing, or movies afterwards. After my divorce I got a job which required me to get up before 6 am. I am a night owl and developed a sleep problem for years. I slept lightly and woke up completely after each REM cycle. Now as a writer, most nights I write until 1 am or, so and have no insomnia whatever. If you are a lark, think about a day job and not a night one, and the opposite for night owls.
- Practice gratitude. Some write in a journal describing what nice events or actions that happened to them that day. Make a mental list of 3 to 10 things that your are grateful for, such as your kids, an upcoming trip, or whatever else. Do silly activities and laugh. Laughter reduces blood pressure, increases oxygenation and is great for your physical and mental health.
- If you are still having insomnia, consider seeing a life coach or counselor for short-term therapy. There may be stressors that have to be released in order to get a good night’s sleep. Vent to girlfriends about what may be bothering you. They may have gone through something similar and have some advice. Forgive. Holding on to a grudge is a form of attachment and sever this link now to be free.
Getting through divorce is challenging and can affect many areas of life. Sometimes taking a breather from your environment (a getaway) can do wonders for resetting your sleep patterns.