Insomnia and sleep deprivation are problems that thousands of people face. With insomnia, the person can’t get to sleep. With sleep deprivation, the person can’t remain asleep. Lack of sleep is often the culprit behind traffic accidents, falls, and general loss of productivity at home and at work. But, what can you do to get a relaxing night’s sleep? Here are some pointers for beating insomnia and sleep deprivation.
If your lack of beneficial sleep is due to interruptions, see what you can do to eliminate those interruptions. In some cases, you just need earplugs to block out ambient noises. I never travel without earplugs, because you never know how noisy the hotel will be. Young parents are among the most sleep deprived, and when there is someone present to take care of the baby, can greatly benefit from a good set of earplugs.
Another form of interruption is yourself. It is said by sleep experts that everybody wakes up 3 or 4 times a night. They just don’t remember waking up. This means that by repeating pre-sleep rituals, you may be able to teach your body to get back to sleep.
Along with the problems that can arise with interruptions to your sleep are the problems brought about by ambient noise. It may not be periodic noises that randomly crop up – it may be repeated sounds such as the neighbor’s garden gate squeaking, or simply the sound of the water heater as it gurgles and pops. The solution to this is often the old strategy of fighting fire with fire. Play recordings that will keep your ears busy, rather than distracted by environmental sounds. Many people listen to relaxation recordings of ocean surf or thunderstorms. Some take advantage of their brain’s need for stimulus and listen to foreign language tapes while they sleep. Foreign language tapes are a great way to keep the mind occupied instead of thinking “I can’t sleep” and you also get the added bonus of being able to learn, there’s nothing better than having the ability for translation. The rhythm of the spoken words help to lull the mind, and some of it usually sinks in!
Caffeine can be a subtle influence on your sleep patterns. I learned that, while I may be able to have a cup of coffee with evening dessert, I must not, under any circumstances, drink any tea within 6 hours of bedtime. You would think there would be no difference, but there is. And, keep in mind that children are also affected by caffeine. I still remember one mother who, to my shock, allowed her children to drink tea with dinner, then complained that they were so hyper and hard to calm down for bedtime!
There are some additives in food, as well, that might be keeping you awake at night. MSG in foods can act as a stimulant for some people. Foods that you have even the slightest allergy to can upset your system and keep you from drifting off, or from remaining asleep once you reach that state.
Slowing down, avoiding stimulants, and using calming music or language recordings can help you get caught up on your sleep. Try them out, and you’ll see.