It's Time for Bed. Are You Too Tense to Sleep?

Started by anonymous, January 19, 2015
8 replies for this topic
anonymous

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Posted on
January 19, 2015
There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep. Homer
 
The worry and stress of living with cancer often leads to insomnia. I often couldn’t fall asleep, or would pass out and be wide awake a few hours later, unable to get back to sleep. I had no idea how badly it was affecting me until my therapist pointed out how fatigued I was during an especially miserable session.
 
As I always tell my children, “When you’re tired, everything’s worse.” In my struggles with insomnia, however, I’ve learned that putting the focus on sleep doesn’t help. In fact, it often makes things worse by creating more anxiety.
 
Instead, I’ve learned I must back up a step and focus on relaxation. If I can relax, I can activate healing responses within myself, one of which is sleep.
 
You can’t go to bed and instantly relax if you’ve been anxious and stressed all day. The following steps will strengthen your relaxation muscle and help you face bedtime ready to sleep:
 
1.     Focus on the breath and meditation. Quieting your mind by following your breath in and out is the most basic form of meditation. All it takes is a quiet place and a few minutes a day. Practicing mindful meditation during the day makes it much easier to quiet the “what-ifs?” at night.

2.     Create quiet time before bedtime. The light from television, computer, tablet and smartphone screens stimulates the brain, which can disturb sleep patterns. Turning off all electronics and reading a book or taking a warm bath alerts the brain it’s time to wind down for sleep.

3.     Journal. Writing down your emotions and concerns on a regular basis can help ease anxiety. If you can’t sleep and are running through concerns in your head, try writing them down. Sometimes, just seeing your concerns down on paper and out of your head can help you get to sleep.

4.     Exercise. There are studies that suggest moderate exercise (such as walking) reduces the incidence of insomnia. (Strenuous or late-in-the day exercise does not have the same effect.)  In my experience, 30 minutes of walking in the morning absolutely helps me sleep better at night.

5.     Set a regular bedtime and time to get up each morning. A regular sleep schedule eases you into a good night’s sleep by alerting your brain to wind down for the night. 

6.     Create a comfortable sleeping environment. A bedroom which is dark, cool and quiet is the best for sound sleep. Remove alarm clocks that put out light, which is another source of unnecessary stimulation.  

7.     Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime. Like caffeine, alcohol is a stimulant. While although alcohol may initially make you sleepy, it will often wake you up in the middle of the night.

8.     Treat yourself to a little TLC. Listen to guided imagery, drink warm herbal tea and curl up in a blanket. Nurturing yourself goes a long way toward relaxing your mind and body and preparing for sleep.

9.     Find support. Without other people who understand, cancer is exponentially harder to endure. Before I found support I was living in my own head without anyone to talk to who understood, which made for many sleepless nights. Support gave me an outlet for my emotions, fears and anxieties. Support helped me release what was keeping me up and helped me get to sleep.  

Maybe it’s just me, but the more I struggled with insomnia, the more worrying I wouldn’t be able to sleep kept me awake. It’s a vicious cycle that got me nowhere. It’s helped me to realize that a good night’s sleep always starts with the healing power of relaxation.

Do you have trouble sleeping? How do you combat insomnia? Have you found relaxation techniques that work for you?
 
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 19, 2015
There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep. Homer
 
The worry and stress of living with cancer often leads to insomnia. I often couldn’t fall asleep, or would pass out and be wide awake a few hours later, unable to get back to sleep. I had no idea how badly it was affecting me until my therapist pointed out how fatigued I was during an especially miserable session.
 
As I always tell my children, “When you’re tired, everything’s worse.” In my struggles with insomnia, however, I’ve learned that putting the focus on sleep doesn’t help. In fact, it often makes things worse by creating more anxiety.
 
Instead, I’ve learned I must back up a step and focus on relaxation. If I can relax, I can activate healing responses within myself, one of which is sleep.
 
You can’t go to bed and instantly relax if you’ve been anxious and stressed all day. The following steps will strengthen your relaxation muscle and help you face bedtime ready to sleep:
 
1.     Focus on the breath and meditation. Quieting your mind by following your breath in and out is the most basic form of meditation. All it takes is a quiet place and a few minutes a day. Practicing mindful meditation during the day makes it much easier to quiet the “what-ifs?” at night.

2.     Create quiet time before bedtime. The light from television, computer, tablet and smartphone screens stimulates the brain, which can disturb sleep patterns. Turning off all electronics and reading a book or taking a warm bath alerts the brain it’s time to wind down for sleep.

3.     Journal. Writing down your emotions and concerns on a regular basis can help ease anxiety. If you can’t sleep and are running through concerns in your head, try writing them down. Sometimes, just seeing your concerns down on paper and out of your head can help you get to sleep.

4.     Exercise. There are studies that suggest moderate exercise (such as walking) reduces the incidence of insomnia. (Strenuous or late-in-the day exercise does not have the same effect.)  In my experience, 30 minutes of walking in the morning absolutely helps me sleep better at night.

5.     Set a regular bedtime and time to get up each morning. A regular sleep schedule eases you into a good night’s sleep by alerting your brain to wind down for the night. 

6.     Create a comfortable sleeping environment. A bedroom which is dark, cool and quiet is the best for sound sleep. Remove alarm clocks that put out light, which is another source of unnecessary stimulation.  

7.     Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime. Like caffeine, alcohol is a stimulant. While although alcohol may initially make you sleepy, it will often wake you up in the middle of the night.

8.     Treat yourself to a little TLC. Listen to guided imagery, drink warm herbal tea and curl up in a blanket. Nurturing yourself goes a long way toward relaxing your mind and body and preparing for sleep.

9.     Find support. Without other people who understand, cancer is exponentially harder to endure. Before I found support I was living in my own head without anyone to talk to who understood, which made for many sleepless nights. Support gave me an outlet for my emotions, fears and anxieties. Support helped me release what was keeping me up and helped me get to sleep.  

Maybe it’s just me, but the more I struggled with insomnia, the more worrying I wouldn’t be able to sleep kept me awake. It’s a vicious cycle that got me nowhere. It’s helped me to realize that a good night’s sleep always starts with the healing power of relaxation.

Do you have trouble sleeping? How do you combat insomnia? Have you found relaxation techniques that work for you?
 
Report
Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 21, 2015
I don't have any problems going to sleep. I have problems staying asleep. I wake at 4:00 in the morning like I was just shot out of a cannon. I try to calm down and go back to sleep, but most days I never get the sleep edge back. Going to bed earlier doesn't help. I just wake up earlier. I have another issue. A little doggie who sleeps in his kennel in another part of the house has ESP and knows exactly when I wake each morning. He's always ready to get up early. Thank you for the article. I will try to use some of your suggestions and hope that you can provide me with more for the middle of the night insomnia.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 21, 2015
I feel for you, Barbara, especially if your early morning waking is making you tired during the day. Try my relaxation techniques which I hope help. You might also want to speak to your doctor to rule out a medical/physical reason. Good luck.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 22, 2015
Thank you so much for these words of wisdom. I am five years out from triple negative breast cancer. But I still needed to hear from someone with the true inner catch all experience of our new life after treatment. Of course I am writing this well after midnight. Please continue to write such uplifting and consoling information. Thank you.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 22, 2015
Glad to help, Debra. If you want to read more, join me at my blog, WhereWeGoNow.com, where I write about creating inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy in the new normal. I hope you slept well last night and thanks so much for your comment.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 25, 2015
I struggled for years with insomnia, mostly in the middle of the night, until I discovered a fun and natural technique that requires only a little imagination to work. I've shared it in an ebook, Simple Sleep Solutions. Amazon, iTunes. Feedback welcome.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 25, 2015
I too have found sleep to be very elusive post breast cancer. Some of it is due to the night sweats from the Tamoxifen that wake me up just as I'm about to sleep, then my mind begins to take off and then I"m in for a few hours of insomnia. Very disheartening. I find it hardest to turn off my devices at night, that's often when I catch up on reading on my Kindle or Ipad. I know that it's not the best way to spend the hours before bedtime, but I'm working on it. Thanks for the tips, Debbie!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 25, 2015
Sorry to hear that you're up at night too, Claudia. Maybe paper books are the best way to go for you (no blue light.) Wishing you good sleep, Debbie
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 26, 2015
How about trying 3mg time-released melatonin. First, I rub a little melatonin cream on my inner arms 1 hr. prior to going to bed. It is relaxing. Then I take 3mg melatonin 1/2 hr. before bed. I sleep like a baby. Also, eucalyptus oil rubbed on the soles of feet, then covered w/socks is relaxing and induces sleep. You can buy these products at Vitamin Shoppe or mail order from Life Extension. Sweet dreams...
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