How to sleep better?

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  • How to sleep better?
  • finbar
    Member

    I’ve been sleeping no more than four-five hours a night since Christmas. It’s destroying me. I was just wondering if anyone had any good advice?

    I usually get to sleep just fine, but i wake up every night around 2-4am, my head gets very busy, and then i get frustrated with myself and any chance of more sleep is gone.

    finbar
    Member

    I should add, i’m doing all the obvious things – no caffeine after noon (none on weekends), going to bed at a regular time, my room is nice and dark, and i usually try and read a little before i go to sleep.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Try self hypnosis /relaxation.

    Or 10 cans of Stella.

    samuri
    Member

    go to bed later.

    DrP
    Member

    Why do you wake up? External noise, illness etc.
    Is it the waking, or the not getting back to sleep that’s new and bothersome?

    Most importantly – how do you feel during the day? OK, or falling asleep at the drop of a hat?

    DrP

    thegreatape
    Member

    One off the wrist?

    patriotpro
    Member

    Maybe you’re not tired when you go to bed, are you exercising regularly? Eating your tea a good few hours before bed time?

    If yes to the above, try Kryton’s 10 cans o stella method.

    saxabar
    Member

    Do not unnecessarily check email in the evening and ensure you relax.

    Premier Icon althepal
    Subscriber

    All the things you mentioned are good, but if you’ve got a ton of stuff going on in your head you’ll never get back to sleep.
    If you’re awake like that concentrate on something, focus on it until all the other stuff you’re thinking about has gone.
    Sounds strange but I used to playback a run down spooky woods in my head. Usually once I’d done 2 or3 runs I was relaxed enough to go to sleep.
    Exercise is also good- distracts you and releases lots of stuff that helps you sleep.
    If you have a lot of stress or other stuff going on it might be good to speak to someone qualified about coping with/managing your stress?
    Anyways, nightshift last night and knackered!
    Good night.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    I usually get to sleep just fine, but i wake up every night around 2-4am

    Same here. Drives you nuts doesn’t it… Last night was my first decent night’s sleep since Christmas. Coincidence that I went for a glorious bike ride that day?
    Anyway, the only thing I found was to fill a mp3 player with ambient music and stick the headphones in, volume low, when I woke up early. Most nights of that, I would actually sleep through the music and wake up when it got light.

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    daily exercise?

    my simple 16mile commute by bike is enough to leave me knackered enough that i fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow – if not before.

    it’s ace.

    spchantler
    Member

    i find a short relaxation exercise involving breathing does it for me, been going through some sh!t the last couple of years and sleep has been difficult.nice music

    skink2020
    Member

    As Samurai said “Go to bed later”.
    I have had bouts of broken sleep my whole adult life.
    I’ve had months of 2-3 hours total sleep a night, it being broken just by waking up and my brain focusing on all the s**te of the day.
    The only improvement i get is if i stay up till 3ish and then go to bed. I will then(mostly but not always)sleep through till back of 7.
    Give it a go.

    finbar
    Member

    Thanks for the input everyone. I’m pretty good on the exercise front actually – I run or do weights almost every day, and ride my bike to and from work.

    I wouldn’t mind the waking up if i knew i could get back to sleep again, but i never do.

    Try self hypnosis /relaxation.

    Any more info Kryton? This is something i’ve thought might be helpful.

    If you have a lot of stress or other stuff going on it might be good to speak to someone qualified about coping with/managing your stress?

    Well, i’m unemployed and i’ve just been dumped. It’s brought things to a head but the sleep has been an issue for much longer.

    p.s. glad you got a good nights sleep DezB ๐Ÿ˜€

    moonwrasse
    Member

    Try this http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/pages/product_detail.asp?pid=2035&prodid=2258&cid=143
    The spray may feel like its burning the first few times if your body being low in magnesium.

    Combine it with a zinc tablet.

    Works for me.

    finbar
    Member

    Ta moonwrasse. I’m taking magnesium already, but not zinc. I’ll get some.

    imnotamused
    Member

    Take a pen and paper to bed with you. When u wake up with a busy mind, write all the stuff down so you don’t have to remember it. Then go back to sleep.

    willard
    Member

    Try avoiding caffeine in all forms (including chocolate) during the afternoon and get some light exercise in at about 7pm (jog, cycle). Also, try not to eat too much at night and, when you do eat, make it earlier.

    Also, avoid alcohol. I’ve found that I may take longer to go to sleep since I gave up drinking completely, I feel as though I get a better quality of sleep now.

    Lastly, if you smoke, stop.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    As Samurai said “Go to bed later”.

    I’d still wake up at 5 and not be able to get back to sleep. So that would kill me!

    The breathing exercises are worth doing too.
    Stuff here (Sorry it s the Livestrong site, but it had the best Google results!)

    finbar
    Member

    Most importantly – how do you feel during the day? OK, or falling asleep at the drop of a hat?

    DrP – i don’t fall asleep properly in the day, but i get dozy in the afternoon and my concentration is pretty woolly at the best of times.

    finbar
    Member

    I don’t smoke, and drink maybe 3-4 glasses of wine a week.

    I’ll print those breathing exercises off and give them a try, thanks DezB.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    I’ve been sleeping no more than four-five hours a night since Christmas

    Good preperation for parenthood ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ve not had more than 5 hours sleep for nearly 5 years. Most nights its interrupted at least once, sometimes more.

    The advantage is on the occasional nights I don’t need to look after the kids I can go out riding all night long. My advice would be get some good lights and head out on your bike. There’s no-one around at 3am, cheeky rules apply.

    Pre-kids however, I’d make sure I’ve done some excercise of some sort in the day. Eat fairly early, go to bed with time to read a good fiction book for half an hour before getting to sleep.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    no screens within an hour of bed. I find the really puts off sleep badly

    An 80 mile road ride does it for me.

    saxabar
    Member

    Sounds strange but I used to playback a run down spooky woods in my head. Usually once I’d done 2 or3 runs I was relaxed enough to go to sleep.

    I do something very similar. Its easier having been out for a ride, but I try to relive the sensation of being in the air (on a bike) or of fast long descents. Other times it is just a spectacular part of a road ride, or of being on a snowboard. The trick is to explore and enjoy those moment in their full visceral richness.

    xcracer1
    Member

    Do you have anxieties/worries in general? If anxious about something it is then difficult to sleep because the fight/flight is activated and you have a lot of adrenaline.

    Another one is being anxious about not sleeping itself, not sleeping, more anxiety etc.

    Premier Icon Coyote
    Subscriber

    saxabar’s trick works wonders for me. Just focus on any downhill experience and make sure you concentrate on the sensation and detail.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    You get woozy in the afternoon? What’s your diet like?

    Cutting down on the fast carbs really stabilised my sleepiness levels. Now I can have disturbed sleep (thanks to sick kids) and manage reasonably well all day, but if I have a sweet treat at any point I am guaranteed to crash about half an hour later.

    The other thing I do if I can’t sleep is just get up and do something else. I made a decision that there was just no point lying there getting stressed. For me, simply getting up and attempting to do something makes me realise how knackered I am then I can fall asleep again. If you have a spare room or a comfy sofa, you might try that. Often I can just move rooms and go down immediately.

    The other night I was sleeping fitfully, then my youngest woke up and was calling, so I went in there, sat with her for a while as she was not sleeping. So I lay on the floor (no carpet!) under a cot blanket with a cuddly toy for a pillow, fell asleep immediately and had about 5 hours quality sleep!

    Another thing I do to get to sleep, similar to saxbar’s approach I suppose, is deliberately daydream. I pick something nice like going to see US family, going on a big bike or climbing trip, winning the lottery, making a wildlife film or having some kind of small windfall that would allow me to buy a new bike or some camera gear or something and focus in great detail on what I’d do and what it’d be like.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    So I lay on the floor (no carpet!) under a cot blanket with a cuddly toy for a pillow

    I read that as ‘with a cuddly toy’ to begin with. It was a great picture ๐Ÿ™‚

    edit: and more usefully, I have a fried who believes that this works for him http://lifehacker.com/5817500/pzizz-helps-you-get-to-sleep-faster. I didn’t like it much but it may be worth a shot

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Lol ๐Ÿ™‚

    If anxious about something it is then difficult to sleep because the fight/flight is activated and you have a lot of adrenaline

    Cortisol I think rather than adrenaline is what you get with general stress.

    Premier Icon FieldMarshall
    Subscriber

    I suffered from this for years. Fell asleep easily but awoke most nights and then couldn’t get back to sleep. My mind was going flat out. End up with chronic fatigue.

    You are already doing all the good sleep hygiene things i.e. dark room, no caffiene writing stuff down etc etc and that helped me a lot, but didn’t totally alleviate the problem.

    You should also look at eating foods that increase your melatonin levels, i.e. high in tryptophan e.g. turkey. You could also try eating different foods prior to sleep and at different times, as depending on your metabolic type, some people sleep better having eaten protein/large meal and others light meals/carbs.

    If you are happy to take supplements, then 5HTP is the best. It increases your serotonin level and therefore indirectly your melatonin level. But is a very natural substance.

    The above is all helpful, but to me it sounds like your sympathetic nervous system is over stimulated, i.e. you are suffering from excess stress of some kind. This could be physical, emotional, work, environmental etc etc. Only you really know.

    So you need to engage your parasympathetic side more. I found that meditation/breathing helped a lot if I awoke. You should also tailor your diet to support your parasympathetic side.

    But ultimately you need to get the root cause of the stress.

    And if you are drowsy mid afternoon, then sounds like your blood sugar levels are unstable, so worth looking at the balance of carbs/proteins etc in your diet to stabilise them.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    An 80 mile road ride does it for me.

    Yeah, that puts me to sleep as well. Trouble is, it can be a bit dangerous dropping off in the traffic ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Google “good sleep guide”- tbh it didn’t work for me at all! But my GP seemed pretty surprised at that.

    finbar
    Member

    Thanks again. Loads more good advice to think about.

    So you need to engage your parasympathetic side more. I found that meditation/breathing helped a lot if I awoke. You should also tailor your diet to support your parasympathetic side.

    But ultimately you need to get the root cause of the stress.

    Interesting. Please can you expand on what you mean about diet and ‘parasympathetic side’? That’s not something i’ve ever heard of.

    I do have a lot to be stressed about (job hunting, depression and alcoholism of other family members, partner just broke up with me), but i’m not going to be able to fix any of that in the short term. I can’t help but think if i could just get some bloody sleep it might be easier though.

    mudshark
    Member

    I have the same problem – seems it’s quite a natural thing though:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783

    I have some mild sleeping pills that I take if I really need to get some good sleep – usually take once a week on Friday night to help ensure I have a good weekend.

    Other than that I read when wake up which can help take my mind off whatever is jumping around my head.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    I’ve always found leaving the bedroom and reading a book or something brainless on TV* for a bit helps. And/or trying to ‘concentrate’ on something (as suggested above, think through a ride you’ve done, or similar, this is basically a meditation type thing) takes the brain off what you’re stressing about.

    But really, the source of whatever stress is causing you to wake needs fixing.

    * I know, TV is not usually recommended, YMMV.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I know, TV is not usually recommended, YMMV.

    TV works very well for me.

    when you get up, get a few minutes of natural light ( if you can ) as it helps the body’s body clock. Also a bath soaking in lavender oil is a great relaxant and totally chills people. Also if you’re a bit of a worrier I’ve heard it said that people should maybe have a mega worrying session for a short period ( like 15 mins i think iirc) at a set time etc, then move on.

    Premier Icon FieldMarshall
    Subscriber

    Interesting. Please can you expand on what you mean about diet and ‘parasympathetic side’? That’s not something i’ve ever heard of.

    Well simplisticly your sympathetic side is the “fight and flight” side, i.e. the side of your autonomic nervous sytstem that helps you cope with short term stressful events. However, if the stressful events don’t go away, this side of your ANS remains engaged. You end up wired and tired.

    You therefore need to try and enagage the other side of your ANS, the parasympathetic side, which is more concerned with digestion, healing etc.

    Easier said than done when you are in a period of elevated stress. But there are deep breathing techniques/meditation that can help.

    You can also use food to support your parasympathetic side, but you would need to know your metabolic type to do this effectively. In my case I benefit from more protein and fat than carbs. This effectively slows down my oxidatisation of food and stabilises my blood sugar levels. I then feel calmer and more able to deal with stuff.

    I can’t help but think if i could just get some bloody sleep it might be easier though.

    Yes it’s chicken and egg. If you could get more sleep, then youd be better placed to deal with stuff. But its that stuff that’s causing you to wake up.

    You can understand why people turn to sleeping pills, at least in the short term, as if you can get some rest then it is easier to deal with stuff.

    Sounds like you have a number of external stressors in your life at present. If you can start to off load some then it will get easier. It’s like loads on a boat. One or two are manageable, but once they start to add up, the boat is overloaded and topples. If you can start to reduce them, then your sleep will improve and you’ll be better placed to deal with the others. As some are external and out of your control i.e. ill relatives, you might need to be a bit selffish until you have sorted yourself out.

    Good luck.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    If you wake up feeling like you’ve been fired out of your sleep by an ejector seat, then it could be anxiety. I was down to about an hour a night at the worst point. Exiting sleep quickly and in a heightened state of alert is a symptom of depression / anxiety rather than just tossing and turning all night or drifting in and out of sleep.

    I found antidepressants to be brilliant – got back to sleeping a solid 7-8 hours in a matter of a week or two after months of sub 3 hours sleep and being completely useless during the day…

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