Insomnia Tips!

I am a chronic insomniac.  It is my only health concern and has been for about a decade.  I have been to the top sleep doctors in the United States, four of them to be exact.   I have spent hundreds of dollars on medications, counseling and appointments.   They all tell me about sleep hygiene.   With our "wired" world I feel these are important tips.   Here is the list from the National Sleep Foundation.


Healthy Sleep Advice
If you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following to improve your sleep:
  • Set and stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day.
  • Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and avoid it at night. Exposure to bright morning light energizes us and prepares us for a productive day. Alternatively, dim your lights when it's close to bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise in the morning can help you get the light exposure you need to set your biological clock. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime if you are having problems sleeping.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Allow enough time to wind down and relax before going to bed.
  • Create a cool, comfortable sleeping environment that is free of distractions. If you're finding that entertainment or work-related communications are creating anxiety, remove these distractions from your bedroom.
  • Treat your bed as your sanctuary from the stresses of the day. If you find yourself still lying awake after 20 minutes or so, get up and do something relaxing in dim light until you are sleepy.
  • Keep a "worry book" next to your bed. If you wake up because of worries, write them down with an action plan, and forget about them until morning.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, chocolate and tobacco at night.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages right before bedtime.
  • No nightcaps. Drinking alcohol before bed can rob you of deep sleep and can cause you to wake up too early.
  • Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications might be contributing to your sleep problem.
  • No late-afternoon or evening naps, unless you work nights. If you must nap, keep it under 45 minutes and before 3:00 pm.
These are all really good tips, and all my sleep doctors have told me the same thing.   However some of them are hard to follow if you live in a small apartment with noisy neighbors or you have little kids.   I have tried to follow most of these tips, but the ones I struggled the most with in Seattle was the exercise and bright light issue.   Its hard to find bright light in Seattle especially during the winter and that is when my insomnia was really bad.  So far, I have not found a cure for my insomnia but I have not given up hope.   

On a side, but related note:  I am a big fan of kickstarter.com.   I have been researching lately about new cures for insomnia and I came across an Oregon based entrepreneur that has invented a sleeping device to help insomniacs without sleeping meds.   What a breakthrough!  When you go to sleep docs they just write scrips for medications and give you the sleep hygiene tips.  The problem with the scripts is that eventually you get dependent on the sleep aids and so if your brain is used to meds to sleep then the sleep hygiene is not as useful, its like a merry go round ride that you can't get off of.    Most people don't understand how difficult it is for chronic insomniacs and they think we should just "get over it" or some other easy fix, but its not easy.  Its like telling someone with clinical depression to "get over it" yet not giving them the tools to do so.  Its probably my most difficult challenge as an adult.   I wish this entrepreneur the best of luck in getting funded.   His website is:   www.sleeponq.com.   Check it out if you have a chance!  I think we need better alternatives than Ambien, Lunesta or Benzos. 

Do you sleep well? Have you ever suffered from insomnia? Do you have any new tips?  Feel free to share in the comments section.   

Ciao,

Rocco

Actually Rocco is just a pug that sleeps all day.  Sometimes I get jealous because he can fall asleep in 
like less than a minute.   It takes me 3 or 4 hours to fall asleep most nights if I sleep at all.   

Rocco and Dante taking a nap.



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