Get to Sleep and Stay There

Sleep is a mysterious process but so important that time spent understanding it is a valuable investment. I’ve yawned my way through an unproductive day many times and worked on learning about sleep so here are some things that do and don’t help. You need; a comfortable place to curl up, no disruptive external factors and balanced internal chemistry.

It’s harder to sleep when it’s too hot or cold, too noisy or where there’s too much light. I always; wear a woolen cap that I can pull down over my eyes, put on long underwear and a long sleeved shirt (this is also good for slowing down bedbugs) when it’s cold, get adequate ventilation and sleep with a pillow over my head to cut the noise. Some disruptions you can’t control but if you list them and think about the problems you may find ways to reduce or avoid them.

One of the major problems I’ve had is not understanding my internal chemical balance and disrupting it through bad diet, substance abuse and attempting to solve my sleeplessness by adding more chemicals to the mix. How well would your vehicle run if you pissed in the gas tank? Thankfully I’ve learned not to do that.

Several years ago, after a Thanksgiving dinner, someone mentioned that turkey contained a chemical that makes you sleep. I researched this and discovered that yes, turkey (and many other foods) contain chemicals that affect your sleep but that falling into a digestive stupor was (most likely) just that, a digestive stupor – you fall asleep more easily when you aren’t hungry. I always eat a snack an hour or so before bedtime and I try to make sure the food I eat contains melatonin ( a chemical we stop producing internally with age) such as oats, barley, pineapple, oranges, corn, rice). You can buy melatonin in pill form but I’ve had mixed results with that because too much is as bad as too little and it’s hard to regulate. Now I just work on eating a good diet, lying down in a safe place and going to sleep with something in my stomach after a day that involves a reasonable amount of physical activity.

Minimizing interference is the best strategy. Being knocked out by a sleeping pill is better than nothing but unconsciousness is not sleep and can’t be substituted for it over the long term. You need to dream and that is NOT a metaphor. You are far better off to think about your problems and use a screwdriver rather than a sledgehammer (that IS a metaphor). Stay warm, eat healthily and enjoy your sleep.

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