Well, hello 4 am… how are you?
Oh, I’m just great, Amber! How are you?
Kinda tired. I’d really like to go back to sleep…
Haha! You’re so funny! We can’t go back to sleep.
Why is that, 4 am?
Because that means you’d be well rested, and we don’t want that!
Oh. Okay. I guess I’ll just stay up then.
That’s the spirit!
Every morning I go through this. It’s not always 4 am. It’s mostly around 5:30 or 6, but it never fails: every morning I wake up sleep-deprived. Working from home gives me the benefit of being able to take a nap in the middle of my work day, but the problem is… I can’t take naps. I have an anxiety attack whenever I try. My heart will start racing, and I end up staring at the wall, clutching my chest, just trying to regulate my rapid breathing.
I don’t know why this happens. Maybe my mind is too busy to calm down. Racing thoughts and new ideas are popping like popcorn in my brain, and I just can’t keep up, which keeps me awake. And so, I end up being awake enough that I can’t go to sleep, and tired enough that I’m not fully awake. It’s that limbo in between that every insomniac knows and hates.
But so what if I sleep less. More time to work on the blog and other projects, right? Well, your body needs sleep for a reason. The link between anxiety, depression and insomnia tells us that lack of sleep can actually worsen anxiety and depression symptoms and can lead to sleep disorders. Take for instance this quote from the aforementioned article from WebMD:
“Normal sleep is a restorative state. However, when sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can lead to increased tension, vigilance, and irritability.”
Certain antidepressants can help with insomnia and sleep disorders, but I, personally, have found no relief. I have both the recommended antidepressant and a prescribed sleeping pill (which is also an antidepressant), and I also take a melatonin supplement each night. Apparently, I’m not in the cool kids group of people for whom this medication works.
I did, however, find some good tips in the article that I’m going to try and be more diligent about. These suggestions may make it easier to fall asleep at night:
- Write down a complete to-do list for the next day and tell yourself you’ll think about it tomorrow. This is something I should definitely do. I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow and how I won’t have time to get it done. I’m going to have to learn to know my limits.
- Avoid electronics and bright screens before bed. These can inhibit the release of the natural sleep-inducing brain chemical melatonin. I check my phone before closing my eyes just about every night, and last night I stayed up watching Robot Chicken. No wonder I didn’t sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but no less than a few hours before bed. GUILTY. I have been slacking so hard on my yoga and treadmill activities. I do yoga for stretches and sore muscles, along with flexibility, and the treadmill is to get me moving at a faster pace. I feel calmer when I’m walking fast.
- Take a warm shower before bed and keep your room at a cool temperature. Cool temperature? No problem. My bedroom is typically freezing. But then I pull all the covers over me and end up sweating to death. I question whether a shower would do me any good because then I would be even colder when I got into bed. But… I’ll try it. It’s worth a shot. There’s only so much coffee in the world, after all. I’d better start sleeping to be more economical.
There are several more tips in the article, but these were the ones that stood out to me. I encourage you to check out the other ones and implement a couple (or all) of them in your life if you’re having trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Make sure to tell your doctor about your sleep habits and check to see if your medications are working together for the better.
Do you have any helpful tips on beating insomnia, or do you currently suffer from insomnia? What are some methods and behaviors that help you fall asleep?