Getting a good night’s sleep is important.
The quality of sleep we get affects everything — physical health, mental health, emotional health.
Obviously, it’s important and also obviously, getting quality sleep is a fairly serious issue for a lot of people. Just look at the number of commercials and advertisements for products to improve sleep: over-the-counter sleep aids, prescription medication, high-tech mattresses, blackout curtains, sleep masks, oil diffusers, noise machines, weighted blankets, special pillows, anti-snoring devices, just to name a whole bunch.
There are all kinds of studies and statistics about sleep, so we won’t get into all that, but as many as 30 percent of adults reportedly suffer from some form of insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep), and that number increases to nearly 50 percent for older folks.
Chronic sleep issues can cause all kinds of physical and mental problems, like heart disease, kidney issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, a weakened immune system, weight gain, anxiety and depression.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past that I suffered from horrendous sleep quality. For a while there, I was waking up every hour during the night. Sometimes, I might sleep two hours in a row before I woke up. It might take me two or three hours to fall asleep. Once in a while, I might sleep for three or four consecutive hours, and that was cause for celebration, man …
This went on for a long time until I finally made an appointment with the doctor to talk about it. It was one of those video appointments, and she wound up prescribing Trazadone, which is a pretty powerful anti-depressant medication also used for sleep. You take the stuff an hour before going to bed, I think it was, and the first time I tried it, it gave me a nasty headache. I slept fairly well and felt noticeably rested the next day, but the side effects were pretty bad.
So the next day, I took half a pill. No headache but no good sleep, either. The next night, I tried three-quarters of a pill and that didn’t work. So I tried a full dose again the fourth night, and I didn’t feel sick but it really didn’t do anything to help, either.
I quit using it after that, and went back to using Tylenol PM, which was recommended to me by a friend who uses it every night. The Tylenol PM hadn’t been working real well, which is why I went to the doctor in the first place, but something else I started doing along with the Tylenol has helped tremendously.
I’ve mentioned my new morning routine, which has been going on now for 93 days.
This new routine I practice every day has reduced my stress level significantly, and I think that has helped improve my sleep quality a lot.
I fall sleep quickly now, which is amazing, and more often than not, I only wake up a couple of times a night.
Sometimes, I’ll wake up around 3 or 4 in the morning, and if I don’t fall back asleep right away, I’ll reach up on the headboard, grab my phone, and put on one of the spiritual messages I enjoy listening to as part of my morning routine and let that play. Most of the time, I don’t make it to the end of the message. I’ve also listened to meditations for sleep, and that works pretty well, too.
Like I said, I think my sleep issues were mostly stress-related.
Believe it or not, exercise is one of the best ways to reduce or relieve stress.
And something I learned recently about deep breathing works great. Here’s what you do: sit back and relax — or lay back and relax — close your eyes, and inhale as deeply as you can through your nose. Breathe in as much as you can, then purse your lips tightly together and exhale s-l-o-w-l-y through your mouth, completely emptying your lungs until you feel your abdominal muscles start to tighten. Pause a moment, then repeat the same way. Do this over and over again, 7-10 times.
What this does is actually send a signal to your central nervous system to relax; settle down.
Use this deep breathing exercise as part of a 10- to 20-minute meditation before you go to bed.
You can also try reading when you go to bed. For some people, reading in bed knocks them out in a few minutes.
If sleep is an issue for you, you’re definitely not alone.
Do some research and find something that works for you.