My tips for insomnia
My night owl tendencies aren't cute
I'm a person who could stay up all night if need be. When I went to college, that was my act of rebellion. 3 AM was my best friend and I could easily stay up all night. Even as a teen, I would struggle with going to bed before midnight. I am the one who shuts off the lights because I stayed up the latest in every place in I have lived in. When I was in grad school my roommates would kick me out of the living room at 3 AM because I would just stay up. When it was undergraduate, I had time to make it up. In graduate school the consequences were higher and I was averaging about 4 hours a night. I honestly was not thinking rationally. I remember bawling in a counseling session and explaining what I was thinking and she said "you need to sleep this is serious." I learned some non-pharmalogic tips to help me. I did take gobfuls of melatonin (again moderation not my thing). It would take too long to work and then I'd just be out. So short of a sleeping pill-which I didn't want because I had ish to do-these tips have worked.
Escaping to Slumberland
1. Have a night time routine and stick to it. You have to retrain your body to sleep and if you get in a routine it helps. Do things you like-take a bath every night, get a lotion you love, read for 30 minutes and get yourself to sleep. Drinking a good decaf tea is wonderful. Also, make sure you turn off screens for about 30-and hour before bed. The light can mess up your nocturnal clock. Turn off your devices and get your mind focused on sleeping.
2. Body lotion. I am obsessed with moisturizing my skin. I have had eczema since I was fourteen and I've tried every body lotion ever. I like lavender and vanilla. In grad school I was broke so I would just find body lotions from a drug store. Now I enjoy Lush's Sleepy. It smells amazing. I mean I put it under my neck and on my wrists-like I would perfume. My husband enjoys the smell and it's not trying too hard. It also relaxes you and gets circulation going. You can just breathe it in and focus. Seriously, it's great.
3. Have a boring book. I love reading and I love compelling stories. I really find "boring" things interesting. Ask me about #tudorhistory. Ask me about #tolkien. I love minutiae. When you have an active mind you need a break so have one really really boring book. I'm talking-in my case- some boring book about the ins and out of the supreme court. Or really boring histories that are told with no idea of context. Just straight facts.
4. Don't drink coffee after noon. For me, this will keep me up forever. I need coffee in the morning to zazz me up. But if I have too much- I will be up until 2 AM easy peasy. I can't even have chocolate too late. It's my mind. I have to be kind to it. It sucks and people think you are crazy if you need decaf-but it's life.
5. Breathe. Focus on breathing and if you are really struggling yogic breathing is a lifesaver. Here's the deal with yoga-it really is a lifestyle and ideal for people who struggle with focus and being calm. You can't overthink while you maintain a pose. Savasana is the time for reflection. But I have calmed myself down with yogic breath and alternate nostril breathing. Nothing snaps you back into focus like concentrating on a detail. You have to breathe and maintaining it in a rhythmic way is so beyond calming. Yoga not your thing, just take a deep breath and count to a number. Daniel Tiger (toddler mom here) says "take a deep breath and count to four." Another good thing DT suggests is hugging yourself and calming yourself down. They call it count down to calm down. I know this sounds cheesy but it truly helps.
So there you have it my tips for insomnia. If you really are struggling, I suggest talking to someone about it. Besides the actual classes in grad school, this was some of the most valuable tricks I learned. It has helped me cope with challenges that life has thrown at me. It's helped me realize a pattern of behavior and given me the tools to change it. I hope these tips help you and if you have anything you'd like to share let me know.