- Personal Health Information & Self-Help»
- Self-Help for Sleep Issues & Sleeplessness
How Well Do You Sleep?
Most of us have sleeping problems at some stage of our lives. There are various reasons for this:
The first three are easy to understand, are usually fleeting and pass after a certain amount of time.
However babies take a little longer. New parents often receive a rude awakening (literally) when they realize just how badly their darling little addition is going to affect their sleeping patterns. Nothing prepares one for this, no matter how many dire warnings one gets. You become adept at snatching a few winks at bizarre times and in crazy places.
You also often never sleep properly again.
Want to sleep?
Do sleep apps really work?
I often see people sleeping peacefully on planes and wonder if they are adept at napping, are using a sleep app, or are maybe just listening to music with their eyes closed?
Do these apps actually work for people?
I have functioned on minimal sleep for years. One morning, when I was looking particularly haggard, hunched over the table slurping slugging down caffeine as if my life depended on it (it did) my daughter grabbed my cell phone…
“I’m downloading you a sleep app. Now.” She fiddled and foofled - then gave me back my phone with a flourish. “There! Try this app.”
I stared at it. Hmmm…. aptly called Shhh. There were three different modes to choose from.
- Night Sleep
- Power Nap
- Flight Sleep
Emma waffled on about binaural waves and all sorts of wiggly things that went right over my poor sleep-deprived head. I just nodded blearily.
Although part of me was highly skeptical, another part was secretly delighted. It felt as though I had been handed a magical tool that was going to fix my sleeping problem.
Later that afternoon, when I caught myself almost nodding off in front of my laptop I decided to try out the “power nap” option. (I suppose it is one of the perks of working at home – you can have a nap – although on the odd occasions that I do, the phone usually rings or the garden dudes decide to mow or weed-eat the lawn.)
This day it was nice and quiet.
I lay down on the bed with the earphones firmly inserted and hit the power nap app.
Suddenly there were lots of little birdies tweeting.
Good grief thought I, have those wretched cats caught a bird again?
No! Stop listening to the birds. Listen to the power nap thingy.
Round about this time the garden dudes started sweeping up the grass cuttings on the bricks – lots of swishy noises going on outside with the odd chirping in between.
By now I was feeling rather ridiculous. Lying on our bed in the middle of the day with earphones. I hate earphones. Besides, there were so many things going on outside I felt I had no right to be relaxing (not) on the bed like that.
Suddenly there was a lot of activity on the main road, not too far from our house. Swishing whoosh-whoosh noises. I strained my ears – listening to see if I could hear sirens. Had there been an accident?
Gave myself another talking to. Listen to the freaking app!
Lashed out in the direction of a whiny mosquito. Swines! It’s day time. Can’t they give a person a break. Mentally reminded myself to plug in the mosquito masher.
By now I was thoroughly awake and wildly frustrated that all these things had disturbed my power nap. I snatched off the earphones and flung them onto the table next to my bed.
Strange… it was blessedly quiet. No birds… no sweeping… no swishing traffic… no whiny mosquitoes.
Stuck an earphone back in one ear. Sure enough… the sweeping noise flooded back into my head. Put the other one in… a few birds tweeting and a mosquito or two.
Are these really the sounds that supposedly put a person to sleep?
Do sleep apps work for you?
There are tips for going to sleep but very few for staying asleep
The internet is flooded with tips for going to sleep or sleeping properly - to name a few:
- Drink a glass of warm milk
- Don't drink too much alcohol
- Don't watch TV directly before going to sleep
- Eat a healthy diet
- Make sure your room is dark enough
- Don't have any electronic devices on or around you
- Get enough exercise (but not right before going to bed)
- Do nice relaxing yoga
- Count sheep
Number 3 is a joke for me - it's my favorite place to fall asleep - but I'm always so disappointed when I wake up two or three hours later and realize I have not even gone to bed yet.
I never have a problem falling asleep. But no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up somewhere between midnight and one thirty. I consider myself lucky if it’s anything after one thirty in the morning.
Then I’m awake. Wide wide awake!
There are many things a person can do in the middle of the night when you are wide awake.
- Get up and do something concrete.
- Turn the light on and read (or these days with tablets and e-readers you don't even have to turn the light on).
- Say your prayers.
- Go drink some (more) warm milk.
- Catch up with social media.
- Lie there and worry / scheme / generally think about things.
- Just lie quietly with your eyes closed.
I do all of these things. Plus I wander around the house and peer out of the windows. Sometimes go and do some work in my office if I am really busy. Then I climb back into bed, poof up the pillows. Snuggle up to my lovely man. Get too hot, turn over, hang my feet off the bed. Rearrange the cat. Rearrange the cat again. Hang more of me off the bed – not by choice this time but because it is being hogged by the cat and my lovely husband. Chuck the pillow off the bed.
By now it is around three thirty in the morning.
Sleep – I tell myself. You've got a busy day tomorrow. Shut your eyes and sleep. Half an hour later I realize I’m still lying with my eyes open staring at the shadows on the wall, my brain is still in full-on whir mode.
No matter how many lectures I give myself, sleep is elusive.
One morning, in desperation, I started to imagine sheep jumping over a fence. Very routine boring stuff. They trotted along the fence and jumped – up and over they went… along came the next one.
They followed each other and they continued to jump.
Then one miserable little weasel in sheep’s clothing refused to jump.
It screeched to a halt in front of the fence and flatly refused to jump.
I thought to myself… but this is my head and these are my thoughts… jump already you pathetic ball of wool.
But no! That wretched sheep turned around and walked back along the fence and stopped to chat with the other sheep.
I lay there, shaking with laughter. Wondering how a supposedly sane person could be so incredibly ridiculous?
Most mornings I fall asleep again when the birds are starting to tweet and less than an hour later… the alarm clock goes off an another day begins.
I have learnt to function normally on between four to five hours sleep - but according to medical opinion this is not very healthy.
Check this table to see how many hours of sleep a night you should be getting.
Hours sleep needed
7 - 8 hours
7 - 9 hours
8 -10 hours
8 -10 hours
9 -11 hours
10 -13 hours
11 -14 hours
12 -15 hours
14 -17 hours
How many hours of sleep do YOU physically need to function properly?
© 2017 Ginny Stone