October 18, 2005 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Having a lot of trouble sleeping lately...

Having a lot of trouble sleeping lately and was wondering if anyone has any non-drug suggestions that worked. I'm thinking about getting one of those sleep/white noise machines. Have those worked for anyone...any recommendations?
posted by unccivil to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
I used to live on the ocean and got used to the sound of the waves. When I moved away I missed the waves so I got a sound machine and we sleep with it on every night. It helps to block out some of the other noise and has a slow rhythm to it that helps me sleep.

Another suggestion would be to increase your exercise level. I find that when I work out in the evenings, I fall asleep faster and generally sleep better (unless my toddler decides to use my kidneys for a punching bag again).

You also don't need a sound machine, when I travel, I set my iTunes to play a couple of nature tracks on replay all night long.
posted by fenriq at 2:25 PM on October 18, 2005

Best answer: the best cure is to find out what's causing you to not sleep. i recently moved to a new place and i am finally getting used to sleeping in my new studio. there could be other things - anticipation of something, financial stress, whatever. you can find means to help you sleep but unless you overcome the real reason that keeps you from sleeping, you'll end up having a long-term issue with sleeping.

what i recommend:
1. PHYSICAL EXERCISE. this may sound rather "duh" but it really helps. it relieves you from some of the stress you may be experiencing as well as your body simply requiring to sleep more. try exercising at least 3 hours before you go to bed though.
2. relaxation/meditation - not to sound hippie but it helps. i was taking yoga classes back in college (yay for hippie school) and there was one mind-control that my yoga teacher taught me. basically you keep repeating yourself "my right arm is warm and heavy". you can quietly say that or repeat it in your head. once you find your arm is actually heavy and warm, try your left arm, then right leg, left leg, so on and so on. initially, it might help to have a friend repeat it for you but once you get used to it, it's pretty piece of cake. relaxing music, relaxing scent, anything that will relax you will help.
3. drink camomile tea.
4. take a bath a few hours before going to bed (combination of 3 and 4 helps a lot).
5. finally: shut off your phone, tell your friends/family to leave you alone after certain hours, if you have roommates ask them to be quiet for a week or two after 10pm, sound-proof your window, remove anything that'd distract you in your bed, make your bed so comfortable that you never want to leave.

good luck.
posted by grafholic at 2:25 PM on October 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest, in order of importance, (1) get a exercise/workout routine going, (2) bring some relaxing escapist fiction to bed, like a SF or a good adventure novel, and (3) cool the room down. As far as white noise, we use it a lot, and have found a HEPA filter, or even an A/C or fan, works much better than any electronic gadget.

Notice everyone's pointing out "exercise"... YES, and I vouch for that from my own experience.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:32 PM on October 18, 2005

Why non-drug?

Anyways, outdoor exercise. Depending upon your location, I always find that coming home to a warm house after a long day of being in the freezing outdoors (or a cool house after a long hot day) will knock me out instantly. Often with clothes still on.
posted by unixrat at 2:41 PM on October 18, 2005

Well I can only suggest what has worked in the past:

1) Tire yourself out during the day either mentally, physically or both.

2) Do not stimulate yourself before bed either with alcohol, coffee, or by work, reading, concentrating on bright screens etc.

3) Sleep in a cool room with plenty of air

4) If you aren't asleep within 30 minutes of getting into bed then get up and spend 15 minutes having a drink of water and relaxing, then try again. Tossing and turning won't help.

5) If something in your life is bothering you, try and sort it out.
posted by fire&wings at 2:41 PM on October 18, 2005

Non-drug suggestions:

  • Glass of warm milk;
  • Go to bed at the same time every night;
  • Perform the same nightly rituals before getting into bed, in the same order;
  • Exercise (but not within a few hours of bed);
  • Cut your caffeine consumption, especially after noon;
  • Try to get up at the same time every day (even weekends). If you don't get natural light in the morning, try using a light box.

  • posted by justkevin at 2:46 PM on October 18, 2005

    is it a problem? i go through cycles when i'm a bit more manic than normal - today i woke up at 3am, for example. i've just learnt to accept it. i got some programming done for a couple of hours and then slept from 5 through to 7 and felt great when i woke up.

    i used to think it was a problem and so it bugged me - i'd worry about it and feel bad. now that i've stopped worrying i'm fine (and have more useful hours in my life).
    posted by andrew cooke at 2:56 PM on October 18, 2005

    Do you count valerian as a drug? It's herbal, you can buy it in capsule form over-the-counter, as well as in an herbal tea.
    posted by amro at 3:25 PM on October 18, 2005

    I have a white noise machine and I looooooooooove it. It helps block out minor noise disturbances outside (I am a real fussbudget about such things), plus the lovely droney sound knocks me right the hell out within about 10 minutes. Also, even a few minutes of yoga/meditation before bed helps me get into a relaxed frame of mind.
    posted by scody at 3:33 PM on October 18, 2005

    Read this related post from a couple weeks ago.
    posted by bjork24 at 3:55 PM on October 18, 2005

    I found creating a routine at bedtime helped heaps. As well as the specific sleepy-making parts of it, I’ve sort of become conditioned to associated sleep with this sequence of actions, so it works doubly well.

    This is what works for me: make sure the bedroom is clean and tidy, clean sheets and covers on bed. Or at least, make the bed so the space I’m sleeping in is comfortable. Eat something warm and sweet, like a piece of toast and honey. Have a warm shower, then do some yoga stretches to release tension. Then… bed.

    For the in-bed-but-can’t-fall-asleep bit, learning some self hypnosis techniques helped. Just really basic stuff like counting backwards to sleep / relaxation from five. Maybe there’s a hypnotherapist in your area who could help?
    posted by t0astie at 4:41 PM on October 18, 2005

    Try the following:

    Do as many sets of push-ups as you can. Really wear yourself out. When you're done, take a long, cold/cool shower and lower your body temperature. A hot bath will feel more relaxing but it'll raise your body temp, making you feel more energized, so avoid that. Since a cold shower can really shock you into being awake, especially first thing in the morning, try to keep your pre-sleep shower from being intolerably cold. It should be about as cool as you can stand it, maybe a little cooler than tap-water/room temperature. And spend at least 10-15 minutes in the shower, lowering your core temperature.

    Also, try not to eat too much before bed. If you're hungry, don't eat too much protein or sugar. It'll perk you up too much. Think bread or unsweetened cereal.

    Heavy exercise + cool shower works for me every time.
    posted by Jon-o at 5:01 PM on October 18, 2005

    Similar to amro's suggestion: 5-HTP should also be over-the-counter (in the U.S.) and is non-addictive.
    posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2005

    Along the lines of white noise without buying a dedicated appliance: CDs with such noise or environmental soundtracks. Also, you can "make" your own white noise: I use rubberized earplugs (like airlines provide) that are comfortable and tend to help you focus on the sound of your own breathing.
    posted by rob511 at 5:16 PM on October 18, 2005

    I used to have a tape of a thunderstorm that was wonderful for falling asleep. Come to think of it, I miss it.
    posted by SashaPT at 5:40 PM on October 18, 2005

    Maybe you have something on your mind. How old are you? The older one gets the more elusive sleep becomes, or the more there is on one's mind.

    one practical suggestion: there is a product called mindfold, and they have a website. i have used it for many years. the best sleep mask there is in my experience. comes with earplugs as well, but unnecessary. black plastic with recessed foam, and total darkness. when you open your eyes there is only darkness. A+ product.
    posted by madstop1 at 5:55 PM on October 18, 2005

    I have a friend who swears by taking a warm bath with baking soda and epsom salt (cups and cups of both).
    posted by jrossi4r at 7:15 PM on October 18, 2005

    Exercise, yep - for many reasons but it's also excellent for this. Meditation wouldn't hurt either.

    It's well known that a hot bath will make you sleepy. I don't know the exact reasons but it seems like any strong temperature change encourages tiredness, especially after resuming a normal temperature, judging by the fact that coming in from the cold seems to do it too.

    Also, there's something to be argued for not using a sleep mask since your circadian rhythm, which helps regulate healthy sleep and many other body functions, is influenced by the light in the morning. This is the same reason why in theory for sleep and general health it may be good to minimize lighting at night - not that anyone would ever follow that, though I largely do just cause it seems to bug me anyway.
    posted by abcde at 9:51 PM on October 18, 2005

    When I have sleeping trouble I pick up a boring book on a topic I like.

    Intresting enough to keep you wanting to stay up to read it....boring enough to make you want to toss it across the room and sleep.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:18 PM on October 18, 2005

    just found some article on sleeping
    posted by grafholic at 9:43 AM on October 19, 2005

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