So are you one of the nine million Americans who’s resorted to prescription sleeping pills in order to get a good night’s sleep?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, insomnia appears to be a growing problem for many of us, but there’s now a new tool ON THE BOOKSHELF to help us sleep a little bit better.
“The Great Sleep Checklist” is written by a Virginia woman after years of tossing and turning.
Marti Johnson has struggled to sleep since she was a child, and as a journalist, she was often too excited to nod off at bed time. Sleeping pills didn’t always help.
“On nights when I was really stressed or had something very big on my mind, nothing helped, and I was utterly terrified of getting addicted.”
So she read everything she could about insomnia - searching for strategies to help her sleep.
“Last year I worked a couple of shifts of overnights , and I honed my strategies for how to get to sleep, and one day I thought: This is a book!”
The booklet contains a hundred ideas and strategies for the insomniac. Key points include the need to turn in at a regular time each night and create a bedtime ritual that might include meditating, praying, listening to quiet music or a recording designed to help you sleep. Take a warm bath, turn on a white noise machine or read a really boring book.
“ Because a routine will help you subconsciously tell your mind it’s time to start calming down, tell your body it’s time to start winding down and help you get to sleep.”
Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Train yourself to leave stressful situations outside.
“These days, a lot of people have ADHD, which means their mind can be racing late at night, or they’re multi-taskers and they’re still thinking over problems. For them I suggest they learn to compartmentalize. Leave the office stuff at the office and the home stuff out in the living room and just go to bed.”
A few hours before bed, turn off your cell phone, computer and TV. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar, but consider natural supplements or a bedtime snack of foods known to promote sleep, like turkey, which contains tryptophan:
“I think we all know that traditional Thanksgiving dinner will put us to sleep right in the middle of the carpet, no matter how exciting the football game is, it’s going to knock us out, but also things like carbs will help, and my favorite is a nice glass of milk.”
Johnson says you can sleep like a baby by bringing a comforting smell or texture to your bed - like a blanket from your childhood, and if you’re a little more adventurous, consider the advice of a founding father:
Benjamin Franklin used to suggest that the best way to get to sleep was a cold bed, and he also suggested getting up and walking around your room naked, and then getting back into bed as a way to drift off. Whatever works! Mr. Franklin had a lot of interesting ideas.”
And if your body clock insists on keeping you up way too late, a weekend adventure might fix that problem:
“Possibly the best way to reset your body clock is to simply go camping. Don’t take a flashlight. Don’t take any electronics. Just go camping and let the natural light of day and dark of night reset your body clock.”
That was Marti Johnson, author of The Great Sleep Check List: 100 Ideas and Strategies for Better Sleep. The booklet is just 25 pages long, so while it contains ideas for insomniacs, it’s unlikely to put you to sleep.