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How To Fall (And Stay) Asleep

Updated on April 6, 2008

It may be time to try some alternatives

Those who have struggled with various degrees of sleeplessness have no doubt taken some drastic measures to achieve what comes so enviably easy to others....a good nights sleep. For those constant or even just those occasional sufferers who have not found success with traditional remedies, it may be time to try these unusual, yet effective suggestions. The best part is that they are simple and inexpensive, sometimes using items you may already own. Since you don't have anything to lose by reading, let's go over some common reasons for losing sleep and the suggestions you can try.

MY MIND WON'T "SHUT OFF"

Stress. Worry. Anxiety. Even when we aren't consciously feeling them, those three things can keep our minds from relaxing enough and achieving the desired R.E.M. sleep. Many people describe this as feeling as if their minds "Won't shut off". No matter how much they try to relax, the same repeating thoughts, or "busy dreams", keep them just on the edge of sleep. Ironically, the event that is causing the anxiety which keeps the occasional non-sleeper awake, is usually the very thing that they need to be rested for the following day. As each hour passes, they recalculate how much sleep they will get if the fall asleep....RIGHT NOW, and the anxiety increases. These are some things they can try:

  • Acknowledge your thoughts. Instead of trying to put them out of your mind, allow 5-10 minutes to really consider WHY you feel anxious. Give yourself credit for things that are real concerns, but then focus on what you have already done to prepare for them. If it is something smaller, like being afraid of not hearing the alarm and oversleeping, take the time to recheck your alarm clock settings. Maybe you mind is trying to tell you something. Then walk through the steps in your mind of what you need to do to be ready the next day and reassure yourself that you are ready. If not ready, what have you planned to get ready.

  • Make up your own boring bedtime story. There is some merit to the idea of counting sheep. Your brain is essentially stuck in a destructive loop and you need to shut down that roller-coaster. Rides are exciting, even if you hate them. You need to "un-excite" your mind by putting it's full attention on something else. A very BORING something else. You can create 2 or 3 characters and place them in very normal, unstressful situations. For example, you may have two women friends sitting in a coffee shop talking about their husbands. Imagine the whole conversation; go back and forth with the discussion until you have "derailed" your mind and numbed it into submission. When you find a scenario that works for you, use it repeatedly until it stops working for you. You can keep the same characters but put them in a different situation or come up with something entirely new. If you train yourself in this skill, eventually you will only have to begin thinking of your story and your body and mind will follow your cue and begin the process of falling asleep.

Soft Inexpensive Earplugs
Soft Inexpensive Earplugs

You may be hearing too much

Have you ever had a dream about an axe-murderer, with one leg dragging behind him, chasing you through the halls of an abandoned building? Ok, maybe you didn't have that exact dream. The point is that when you woke up, you realized that it wasn't a lame hatchet-carrying monster you heard, but a tree branch scratching at the window. Our brains do not shut down just because we are asleep. They stay active and continue to decipher and categorize all the sounds going on around us. That is why a tree branch may give us a scary dream, while the sound of breaking glass will make us sit up in bed immediately. We may not think we are affected by all the little noises, but they could be keeping us from real rest. If this is a problem, you could try this:

  • Add some kind of white noise to the room. You can use an electric fan or a radio turned down low on a static station.

  • Ear plugs. Do not disregard this suggestion even if you have tried this in the past. The new earplugs are soft and comfortable enough to wear while you sleep. They block out almost all the background noise,(you can still hear telephones or crying kids) and they are very inexpensive. You will be amazed at the difference they make if you have trains, traffic, noisy neighbors or snore pollution.

Cotton Sleep Mask
Cotton Sleep Mask

Shine and Rise?

 

Just as our bodies react to noise while we are asleep, they also know when it is time to get up by the amount of light coming in the windows from the sun. Simple, right? Wrong. Very few of us live where there is total darkness at night and light only when the sun comes up. We have street lights, headlights and even moonlight that moves light and shadows throughout our rooms. You may be more sensitive to this light than you know. What to do?:

  • Try wearing a sleeping mask.They do not have to be tight to be effective. Be sure to get one that is soft and big enough to do the job. Sleep masks do not have to be expensive, but if you want to experiment first, you can simply use a handkerchief. Fold it as if you were making a loose headband, and tie it loosely around your head covering your eyes. This is not as comfortable as a mask, but it will let you know if you respond well to a darker sleeping environment.

For those who are deprived of it, sleep becomes a precious commodity that they'll do anything to possess. Hopefully, these simple solutions will help them own their nights again.

Comments

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    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      7 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks wsupaul88 for the nice feedback. I have recently added blackout curtains to my bedroom and I LOVE them. Didn't realize how much light was coming in, but now it is very dark and I no longer need the eye shade. Helps when you want to sleep in longer too!

    • wsupaul88 profile image

      wsupaul88 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      This is awesome, I am glad I found this Hub. I have a hard time sleeping lately and the only thing that seems to work is wearing an eye mask! I don't now why, but it really works! Great Hub

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      8 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I have one other suggestion that has been working very well...Melatonin in the spray form. You hold it under your tounge for about 20 seconds and it helps keep you asleep all night.

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 

      8 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      Thanks for the suggestions, I'll try it!

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      9 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I use them all the time, isyan. Hope they work for you, too. :)

    • isyan profile image

      isyan 

      9 years ago

      nice suggestions.. very helpful.. i think i can use this.. thanks! please join my fan club also.. god bless!

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      9 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks Hammerj, I appreciate it.

    • Hammerj profile image

      Hammerj 

      9 years ago from Cebu City

      NIce...great and fun...

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks again Beth. Of course nothing works 100% of the time, but I use many of these ideas regularly.

    • betherickson profile image

      betherickson 

      10 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Rhym. You did a great job here. Great hub. This is good information to share with my friends. :)

    • Veronica Bright profile image

      Veronica Bright 

      10 years ago from Nebraska

      Great tips. I have always had trouble sleeping, but especially now. I don't think it's the noise. I'm deaf. lol. Of course, there is the noise from the ringing in my head...nah. Anyway, good job, again!

    • 02SmithA profile image

      02SmithA 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      I absolutely have to have an air purifier or fan running to have the white noise you speak ok. Helps a lot!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      10 years ago from California Gold Country

      I sympathize with people who have this problem. Sleep is important. Mine usually starts when head hit pillow.

      When we moved to the silent countryside- with no traffic noises or overhead aircraft it was a little wierd-- like waiting for a shoe to drop... but we adjusted.

      A coyote howl once made us jump high enough to dent the ceiling once... but it's all good now. We wear helmets. :)

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I have tried a few variations myself, but sometimes I get too involved in the story and then don't want to fall asleep.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      Do similar but more in solving a new mystery with my own twist.

      Thanks for some good tips

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 

      10 years ago from Southern California

      Very informative, you did a great job, thanks

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      That is really not a good sign Woody, especially if they don't have anything good to say. No one like a sarcastic sheep.

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I will try out some of these tonight Rhym!

      I am tired of 'counting sheep' because lately they have started talking back!

      :)

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Rhym...wow he answered...I am also the first born..so means I am ada ??? something..hmmm interesting I'd say...Thanks both of you G-Ma :o) hugs

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I am the "first Daughther" in my family, and I guess my friends there thought of me as family. My other name means "Gift from God", so I guess I was really blessed.

      Thanks for writing back Soyelude, and I am sure G-ma will appreciate it too!

    • soyelude profile image

      soyelude 

      10 years ago from Lagos - Nigeria

      Rhym i am yoruba. Ada in Ibo is reserved for first females born into an ibo family.

      Good to know you had fun whilst here...pls come again. I live not too far from Shangisha in Anthony/Maryland. Lagos must have been a crazy place hey? Tell G-ma i have responded to the question...i enjoy your hubs too.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.

    • pjdscott profile image

      pjdscott 

      10 years ago from Durham, UK

      Some great tips here - I have tried one or two you mentioned but like the idea of the quality sleeping mask, as well as the psychological tips. Thumbs up to ya!

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Those are great ideas too and that is exactly the point, to find something that works for you. I'll give this a try next time I'm sleepless. Thanks.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 

      10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      About counting sheep and boring bedtime stories...what works for me is to count backwards from 99. As I do this, I don't just say the numbers in my head, I see them as I am writing them, as I am forming them, one imaginary stroke at a time. One night, I'm writing them in wet sand on a beach, another night, in thick finger paints on a shiny piece of paper. Sometimes I imagine the numbers appearing, one dot at a time, on a huge digital billboard in some nameless city. You get the idea. I'm usually asleep before I descend into 95. Just as you say, use one scenario until it doesn't work, and then find another one. Since I don't see an end to my supply of imaginary media, I'll probably be sticking to the descending numbers game for a while yet.

      Once again, a thought provoking hub!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Let's bombard him to answer...... Happy Easter sweetie...G-Ma :o) hugs

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I forgot that I hadn't heard back....thanks for reminding me.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      I want to know too Sam..please tell us ....we are both waiting..right? G-Ma :o) hugs

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Good hub with great suggestions.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks Soyelude. I lived in Lagos for almost a year in Ikeja near Shangisha. Loved it there. I even have an Ebo name....Ada Onyinyechi. If you are really from Nigeria, tell me what that means......unless you are Yoriba. I'll be waiting.

    • soyelude profile image

      soyelude 

      10 years ago from Lagos - Nigeria

      Great ideas....fantastic hub!!

    • profile image

      Papa Bear 

      10 years ago

      Wow! I have experienced all those problems. Can't wait to try your suggestions. They make a lot of sense. Thanks.

    • Lola Eden profile image

      Lola Eden 

      10 years ago from the South

      Awesome article. Going to put into practice.

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