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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Missing the Bus to Sleepy Town

I was so pleased to see Merrillee Whren’s tips for getting a good night’s sleep in the July WNP e-zine. It corresponded perfectly with my new campaign to improve my sleep IQ.

Last month we had a program at the library where I work on Overcoming Obstacles to Healthy Living. The speaker, a lovely mental health worker named Paula, started out by enumerating the different things that keep you from being healthy, like not getting enough sleep, not eating healthy foods or having too much stress. To my dismay, I had to claim all three!

I realized, as I listened to Paula, and to the comments of the other attendees, that, for me, all roads lead back to the bedroom. When I fail to sleep well—and that can include not setting aside enough time for sleep or waking frequently during the night—other parts of my life are affected. I make poor food choices when I’m tired, choosing fast food over cooking or substituting snacks for a healthy meal. When I am tired I get stressed out more quickly, especially during this time of year when I’m working on the library’s budget.

I decided that day to make an effort to go to bed at a decent hour and set aside eight hours for sleep. I started out like gangbusters. I planned my bed time like a seasoned general, then couldn’t sleep because I was so stressed out about getting a good night’s sleep. Second night went the same. I crawled under the covers at the appointed time, fell asleep immediately, but woke 45 minutes later. I did better over the following weekend, and still try to observe a consistent lights-out, but I’m still waking up about every two hours.

I haven’t given up, but I wonder…Will I ever get this sleep thing straightened out? Or is being aware of the problem (and its many components) the key to solving the puzzle?

Do you have a tip for better sleep? Hot milk? Makin’ whoopee? Come on, share! I’ll wait up.


At 8:37 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

One thing that has helped me is when I exercise regularly during the day, I sleep better at night. That's probably why I'm not sleeping well now. I've been so busy the past few weeks that the exercise has been sporadic.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Karen, your sleep pattern is probably on a two-hour cycle which is pretty normal. The trick is getting back to sleep after you wake--if you can't get back almost immediately you're going to have to wait two hours for the next bus to come along.

A good trick that works for me is to invent a really annoying and stupid reason why I have to get up right now: I must get up, find a blue sock and a white sock, and walk round the house backward five times while singing Yankee Doodle, or something like that.

Works like a charm for me.

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Jennie Lucas said...


You have all my sympathy.

Often when I can't sleep, it's because I've let myself develop the habit of fretting over stuff at bedtime. If that's the problem, I let myself have 5 or 10 minutes then cut it off with the promise that I can worry more tomorrow.

Trish's suggestion about working out is good. I also like to read right before bed. The more boring the book, the better! (Although often I can't help myself from reading something good. Right now I'm on Christina Dodd's Trouble in High Heels. NOT boring. Unfortunately.)

And if all else fails, remember that sometimes you're sleeping and you don't realize it. Level one sleep can feel like wakefulness, but you are still getting some rest.

Janet, I'm puzzling over your trick. Do you mean that getting up and finding the blue sock helps you go back to sleep? Or is it *not* wanting to get out of bed to do the task the thing that makes you drowse again?

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Jennifer Shirk said...

I think I read somewhere that there is A LOT of people with some type of sleep disorder in the world, but it goes undiagnosed.

I now avoid any kind of caffeine after 2PM.

Exercise, like Trish said, is a great idea. That helps me, too. (Sometimes too well and I have to struggle to stay awake at 7PM!) LOL!

No TV at night helps, too. Just music after dinner.

Hope you get some good zzzz's soon!

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Advil PM works like a charm for me! I'm a worrier, like Jennie. Sometimes when I'm having problems turning the worries off, I imagine scenes in my head, make up stories or replay old ones.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Judy T said...

I grew up sleep deprived, so now I'm having to learn new habits. A bedtime routine helps, sometimes, sort of telling my body it's time to sleep. A bit of lavender oil helps calm me, just a little touch of it under my nose. I also need the room cold enough; for me, it's about 74. Anything warmer, and I'll wake up off and on all night.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Or is it *not* wanting to get out of bed to do the task the thing that makes you drowse again?

Exactly, although of course if you were a truly responsible person, which obviously I'm not, you might lie awake worrying that maybe you should get up and do it.

At 6:26 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

Funny you should post this the morning after I got MAYBE an hour and a half of sleep. I usually know when I won't sleep, so I take Tylenol PM, but I need to take it at least an hour before bedtime.

I read every night, but some nights the characters stay with me (which is preferable to worrying, I know, and I also do that). Still, keeps me awake.

I didn't know about the two hour sleep cycle, Janet.

Judy, I used to use lavender oil for my son when he couldn't sleep. I told him it would make him sleep, and it did - don't know if it was in his mind, though. I can't stand the smell!


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