Activities for when I can't sleep
March 7, 2011 10:30 AM Subscribe
Activities for when I can't sleep.
posted by LaurenIpsum to health & fitness (32 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I have had struggles with insomnia for most of my life. I "hit rock bottom" with it a few years ago after a slight neck injury that forced me to sleep in a position I wasn't used to. I ended up seeing a sleep specialist who was very good and gave me some tips about good "sleep hygiene." For example, he told me to avoid the computer or TV close to bedtime because of the stimulating light. He also told me to not try to sleep when I'm not tired, and if I lay in bed for a while and can't sleep, get up and read a book or do something else until I do feel tired.
This was all very good advice. Since then, several years later, what I usually do is get in bed around 10 or 10:30, and read a book or magazine until I feel drowsy (usually between 11 and 11:30), then I lay down and go to sleep. This is diametrically opposed to how Mr. Ipsum works. He simply looks at the clock and decides, "It's 11 o'clock. Okay, bedtime." Then he lays down and just goes to sleep. Seriously, he can just decide to go to sleep, and then just do it. How I wish I could do that. Usually when he goes to sleep, I'm still in bed with a little book light, reading. In fact, he tries to tell me I should follow his method - that if I just tell myself I'm tired, then I will be tired. That's very well and good for him, but I used to do that (trying to sleep at time XYZ every night regardless of whether I was tired) and I have a much better time getting to sleep with my current method - reading until I'm actually tired.
However, the past few days I've been having trouble sleeping. Part of my problem is that I'm a worrywart and get anxious/upset easily. Having a bad night's sleep can set off a chain reaction where I get nervous going to bed on the next night, thinking I won't be able to sleep (which is partly what happened with my neck injury a few years ago). For two nights in a row I took 5mg of ambien (half a pill), and last night I decided I wouldn't take any, because I don't want to get too used to it. Finally at 1am I'd had enough and took 2.5 mg (a quarter of a pill) but I'd rather not take any tonight.
Up until that time I'd been following all the rules. I got into bed at 10:15. And I read a book. And I read, and I read, and I read. By midnight, I was getting really, really sick of reading and I think it was making things worse because now I was bored and angry. But I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't watch TV or surf the internet because I felt that would make things worse. I'm a very active person and sometimes when I'm bored I will do a physical activity like the Wii Fit or just walking on the treadmill, but I didn't think physical activity would be a good way to get relaxed. I suppose I could have gotten up and read my book in the living room, but by now the house was cold because we turn down the heat at night, and the bed was more comfortable.
So, any suggestions? What are some relaxing activities aside from reading that I can do on my insomniac nights? And yes, I do realize that I'm my own worst enemy here, because my worrying makes it worse. I do need to remember that the world won't end if I don't get a full-night's sleep. During the worst of my insomnia, a few years ago, I went to a full day at work after having NO sleep, and while it wasn't pleasant, I managed. I need to keep that in mind.