If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you probably know that I suffer from insomnia. Between my husband Colm's snoring, our God-awful knockoff Tempur-Pedic mattress, and my racing brain, I'm lucky if I get five hours of sleep a night. Some nights it is closer to three.
Then of course at 5:00 am when it's time to get up, I'm so exhausted that I have to drag myself out of bed, rouse the first set of kids to get ready for school, get them on the bus and then I sleep on the couch for 30 minutes until it's time to get the next kid up and out the door. After I drop off my oldest at school I get home and either start working right away or I go back to bed and try to get another hour or two of sleep before I really have to start my day.
More than once I've fallen asleep on the couch after sitting down to take off my shoes. I was so tired this afternoon that I actually fell asleep briefly in my parked car waiting for my daughters to finish with their after school activities. I immediately took a nap when I got home.
You don't realize how incredibly bad it is for your body to go without proper sleep.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 50-70 million adults in the US have sleep or wakefulness disorders. Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health concerns including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Not only does it cause memory loss, anxiety and depression, but WebMD states lack of sleep ages your skin “…chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.”
On top of all the health issues lack of sleep causes, one of my biggest issues is my mood and how it effects everyone around me. When I am especially tired I'm impatient, can't concentrate and get snippy. It only takes one small misunderstanding to quickly change a the atmosphere from happy to WTH just happened?!?
Tips to Help You Get the Sleep You Desperately Need
- Try to schedule your daily exercise at least 5 to 6 hours before going to bed.
- Don't eat heavy meals or drink a lot before bedtime.
- Avoid substances that make it difficult to fall asleep, such as caffeine, tobacco, and other stimulants. Several OTC and prescription medicines can disrupt sleep (e.g., anxiety medication, cold and allergy medicines).
- Despite popular belief that an alcoholic drink will make you sleep better, alcohol actually triggers a light sleep and you tend to wake more times during the night.
- Create a bedtime routine that will help you wind down before bed, maybe take a hot bath, read a book, or listen to soothing music.
- Avoid electronics, TV and bright lighting for an hour before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly. Keep the temperature cool and don't play loud music. It should be also be very dark. Buying light-blocking shades will help keep outside lights from disturbing your sleep.
- You spend 1/3 of your life in bed, your mattress should be comfortable. It is recommended that you replace your mattress every 6-8 years, but if it's a high quality mattress it can last over 12 years.
- Go to sleep and wake up around the same time, even on the weekends. Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends disrupts your sleep cycle and makes it hard to get back on schedule during the week.
Desperately Seeking Sleep
For me, it doesn't seem to matter if I go to bed early or late, I always end up tossing and turning, staring at the clock just waiting for sleep to finally come.
I've tried music, no music, ambient noise, white noise, running a fan, keeping the room pitch black, guided meditation, essential oils… nothing seems to help. I've taken melatonin, OTC sleeping pills, NyQuil, Benadryl, and other sleep aids to no avail.
My husband and I have been mattress shopping at Sleep Number but it never seems to fit in to the budget.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about any sleeping problem that persist for longer than a few weeks.
Do you have any tips on falling asleep and staying asleep?