February 26, 2005

So - what do YOU do?

Last night was another one of those I CAN'T SLEEP nights.

I've had insomnia for years. Years and years and years. It's really starting to catch up with me......my energy level is way down and my focus is off. Really off.

Usually I can coax myself back into the outer regions of sleepy land by just moving to the other side of the bed and doing a little relaxation exercise I learned somewhere. I just focus on each area of my body and will it to relax. I start with my feet and stay focused until they are completely relaxed, then my legs, my torso, and usually by the time I get to my shoulders I'm out. If not....then I just don't fight it. I'll just get up.

If the first exercise doesn't work, then I'll make myself a cup of herbal tea. While the water is heating I'll do a series of stretching exercises. Slow and smooth - just to try and relax. Then I curl up in my favorite chair and sip my tea. By the time I'm done I'm usually sleepy and either head back to bed or just hunker down under my favorite blanky in the chair.

Last night neither of those worked. I think I was just overly tired, I don't know. But after the 2nd cup of tea I knew I was in trouble. So...I turned the TV back on, fired up the computer and did a little work. Read a few blogs I haven't visited lately and finally.....drifted off around 6:00am. WHEN I NEEDED TO GET UP!! Damn I hate when that happens.

Now I know there are tons of articles and books out there that offer all sorts of tips and tricks on how to sleep. Believe me - I've read them. REMEMBER: I train on how important sleep is!! What I'm wondering is do you have any 'wives tales' or such that helps YOU if you're fighting that dark demon.

Please share! I've got to head out for a training class.....literally - no rest for the wicked!!

Posted by Tammi at February 26, 2005 08:09 AM

That relaxation exercise works better if you tense everything up as much as you can, then relax very slowly. (Sounds like pelvic floor exercises ;-) )

Failing that, alcohol works like a dream!

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2005 08:18 AM

Harv and I tried reading the Bible once. Put me straight to sleep everytime.

Posted by: TNT at February 26, 2005 08:39 AM

I was going to try your exercise Tammi because I have similar issues. So keep us posted with what works!

Posted by: Sissy at February 26, 2005 09:42 AM

Well, you've tried more than me.
I know alchohol is a sleep disturber. It makes you tired, but wakes you up.

But I do know one relaxation techinque that's close to counting sheep. When used in meditation, it clears the mind and allows focus on the task. When used to relax, it allows for sleeping.

Here you go:
A. Choose a comfortable position of these:
- Lie on back
- Sit in comfortable chair
- Sit on soft floor, legs crossed or slightly open

B. Begin deep breathing excercises:
- Inhale, hold
- pause
- Exhale, say "100", hold
- pause
- Inhale, hold
- pause
- Exhale, say "99", hold
- pause
- Inhale, hold
- pause
- Exhale, say "98", hold
- pause
(see the pattern?)

As you do this, you will breath slower and slower. The breaths will start moderate, then become deeper, then gradually become more shallow as you relax. At first, the "hold" and "pause" will be brief. But as you relax, they will become longer.

The difficulty here will be to maintain focus on the number. Counting down from 100 requires focus. Attempting to focus on the numbers, breathing and pausing (and posture) at the same time will cause your mind to clear everything else out. This is a mental focus excercise combined with relaxing breathing. When you forget what number you were on, choose the last number you remembered. When you find your self counting upwards because you messed up, just use that as the basis to begin counting down from.

It is important that the breathing be from your stomach - not the chest. The goal is relaxation. Your chest should not move much. But your stomach should. Be careful when sitting that you do not slouch forward. Do not wear tight pants or a belt. Your focus should be on making your stomach move out on inhale and in on exhale. All of the air is going deep into your body - the stomach. When I lead these excercises in my classes, the key to seeing if a student was doing it correctly was whether the chest moved. It shouldn't.

If I can force myself to do this, I rarely make it below 30. Which is good because as you approach 20, your heart rate naturally increases as your mind realizes you are approaching your goal. For sleeping, that's a bad thing. If you reach 0, go back up to 100 - slowly.

The only times this doesn't work is when I won't let go of something mulling in my head. Which, for the past couple of years for me, is more often than not. But it is worth trying, me thinks.

If this isn't completely clear, let me know and I'll address specific questions. Or call. I can speak it better than write it. I can demonstrate even better. :/

Posted by: _Jon at February 26, 2005 10:40 AM

Sex works pretty good for me... ;)

Posted by: Ogre at February 26, 2005 10:55 AM

Thanks Ogre.....do you need some more SALT with that comment. ;-)

Posted by: Tammi at February 26, 2005 12:09 PM

Doesn't Ogre count llamas?

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2005 01:05 PM

Docha hate that? I've begun to have a few problems sleeping, too. I've tried the warm milk thing. I've tried relaxing each part of my body.
I've tried getting up and reading, which sometimes works.
Recently, I read something about visualizing yourself lying in a meadow of soft, green grass, totally relaxed, on a warm, sunny day. I don't know why, but It's worked a couple times, now.

Posted by: Pammy at February 26, 2005 01:31 PM

Usually, I read. That almost always works. Until the book hits me in the face anyway.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at February 26, 2005 02:02 PM

Ogre has sex with Llamas... :)

Posted by: _Jon at February 26, 2005 02:41 PM

Sorry, I'm with Sally - coupla glasses of wine works for me. Except it makes it hard to get up for my shift at 2...

Posted by: Karen at February 26, 2005 05:38 PM

I usually go work out for an hour. Find it's much easier to relax after a good workout. Figure I'll spend that hour and a half (shower) tossing and turning anyway, so I might as well put that nervous energy to work for me.

Posted by: krakatoa at February 26, 2005 10:40 PM

How do you have sex with a llama? Do you have to get on a stool or something? (I think I hear some orgling in the background!)

Posted by: TNT at February 27, 2005 12:48 AM

Hey! I resemble the remark! They make tiny llamas, you know...

Posted by: Ogre at February 28, 2005 10:32 AM