TROUBLE SLEEPING? INSOMNIA CURES ARE HERE!
I yawn, stretch my arms behind my head and stare at the ceiling. I've been in bed for a few minutes. Ahhh, the peaceful quiet all around. The room is dark. The kids are asleep. It's an expansive moment for my mind. My mind seems to fill the entire room.
Okay, it's been 20 minutes now. The novel meditative moment has passed. Now my mind seems to be filling up like a bowl that's been left outside in a torrential downpour. I can't seem to slow down or empty out my mind. So many things to think about, not the least of which is why in tarnation can't I fall asleep?
I am tired, but cannot sleep. I begin to feel agitated and become physically restless. I turn this way... I turn that way. I cross and uncross my legs. I lay on my stomach, side and back. Each passing moment lends itself to increased anger and frustration. Now my mind has jumped ahead to tomorrow, lining up all those things I have to accomplish knowing that I'll only do so by dragging this haggard, exhausted and fatigued body around for the entire day. This process goes deeply into the night.
Any of that sound familiar?
Recent estimates indicate that approximately 25 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. Some reasons for insomnia include:
Restless Leg Syndrome
Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Alcohol and other drug abuse
Life changes and/or accumulation of life stressors
You should consult with your physician in order to determine the exact cause of your sleep problems. He/she may order a sleep study, give you a depression screen, check social stressors, order a blood panel to check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, suggest you stop drinking, give an anxiety scale or any number of interventions to identify a cause and get you focused on appropriate solutions.
In the meantime here are a few "Do's and Don'ts" on how to reclaim your beauty sleep.
When you lay down to sleep, deepen and lengthen your breathing patterns -- shoot for five second inhales and five second exhales. You'll be taking 6 breathes per
minute. This takes some practice but works nicely.
Take a deep breath and hold it. While holding your
breathe, tense up the muscles throughout your entire body and hold both for 30 seconds. Exhale completely and relax. Take several relaxed breathes and repeat
Choose any relaxing color (blue, green, yellow,
etc). Place your hands on your stomach and imagine that you are expanding a colored balloon in your stomach. Exhale an insomnia/anxiety color (red, black, etc) through your mouth. Continue this for 5-10-50 times, whatever it takes. It is impossible to focus on your body/breath while entertaining thoughts.
Take a hot shower or bath before bed, or get up and do so if you are unable to fall asleep within 15 minutes.
Take some sleep food for the brain. Before going to bed
eat 1 ounce of protein, 1 ounce of cheese and 5 grapes or the equivalent.
Get out of bed if you have not fallen asleep within 15
minutes. The brain is quite easily programmed. I don't want your brain to associate "bed" with "awake."
Once you're out of bed do not watch TV, get on the
computer, listen to stimulating music, turn on a bunch of lights or do anything else that stimulates your brain
into high gear.
Once out of bed do sit quietly, meditate on emptying the mind, listen to quiet, soothing music or do some "light" reading. The research shows that deep meditation is as restorative as sleep and takes less time than sleeping for 8 hours.
Purchase a Brain Entrainment CD and some ear buds
(they are the most comfortable to sleep on). Make sure the CD is designed for sleep. I won't go into all the
scientific details here. Just know that the brain needs to be in delta wave state 60 minutes for you to wake up
feeling fresh. My favorite is "Sleeping Through The Rain" by a company you can find at
www.hemi-sync.com. Don't try this on just a boom box. The ear buds are very important to make this work.
Make sure your bedroom is dark. Lights out!
Exercise regularly. Exercise does a fantastic job of
regulating sleep cycles. The only catch here is do not exercise within two hours of bedtime, as this
can activate mind and body systems that will keep you awake.
Drink Chamomile Tea an hour before bedtime and take
Valerian root with it. If you open up your first bottle of Valerian root and it smells like rotten socks, don't
throw it away, it's supposed to smell like that! Can you believe it!? ;-)
If worse comes to worst, consult a doctor. There are
many effective medications used for sleep which can be prescribed by your doctor. Some of these include
Ambien, Temazepam, Sonata, Remeron, Benadryl (non- prescription), Melatonin (Don't take this if you have
Seasonal Affective Disorder) Trazadone and others.
Stay away from alcohol as a sleep aid. Many will argue
that alcohol gets them to sleep, but brain wave studies show that once asleep, an individual does not reach the
restorative level of sleep that results in feeling well rested in the morning.
Too many sleepless nights can lead to what feels like a psychotic break, so don't push yourself over the edge. Good self care is so important. After just 2 nights without sleep, intervention is necessary! Please take care of yourself. A great night's sleep after not sleeping well for a long time can be an absolutely wonderful gift to give yourself.
I welcome you to more restful nights!
Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer &
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need some concrete things I can DO to help me on a daily
basis to avoid the pit of depression."
so much for action.... I mean asking ;-)
behavioral action is one of THE most important things you can
do in recovering from depression. I understand it's
often the last thing you feel you can do, but you've got to
trust me on this one. It's VITAL. Here are some
- just start where you are
and attend at least 1 social event per week
(Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming article on this)
to an empathic friend about what it's like to be depressed
negative thoughts and say to yourself, "Cancel that
a daily Gratitude List.
self-care daily. Sometimes just a long hot shower is
or go see a comedy or attend a comedy show
predicting a negative future. Write down the way you
see yourself in the future in a positive manner.
Read daily and commit to one action you know will help
establish that vision. For example, ladies day at
a "Good World" detective. On a daily basis
push yourself to see the beauty all around you. This
is fun. Keep it simple. Examples, the sky is
beautiful today, my daughter has great blue eyes or
that was nice of the lady to let me pull out into traffic
yourself what behaviors are natural to you and would be
helpful to engage in. Be gentle with yourself, start
where your at... but please do start!
Alone In Depression. That's Exactly What It
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are out there reading this newsletter and suffering, you can
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in your pain. I am extending my hand. I've helped
thousands, but you have to take the first step.
Make the suffering stop. You can do it simply by asking
for help now.
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