It used to be that the only predictable thing about my insomnia was that it occurred at times of high drama. Anticipation of a trip to the Canary Islands? Nothing like a little excitement to keep me awake at night. Difficulties with a colleague at work? Stress, too, was a set-up for trouble sleeping. Whenever my life got the least bit interesting or challenging, sleep went south.
But sleep is easier to manage now that I’m able to see more patterns in my insomnia and the insomnia of others.
David walked in late to a presentation I was giving on managing insomnia. I’d surveyed my audience and launched into a talk for retirees. But here was David, a high school teacher in his early twenties, and I realized I was going to have to change the remarks I was about to make.
We think of insomnia as mainly an affliction of older adults. But the facts don’t bear this out.
Most of us know that drinking coffee after dinner will probably disrupt our sleep and that regular exercise will improve it. But some ideas I see tossed out about sleep and insomnia are not quite accurate. Here are six misconceptions followed by information that is evidence based.
Once on a whale-watching cruise, when the ship was rocking from side to side and I was clinging to the gunwale for dear life, I watched an 81-year old woman walk down the center of the boat with nothing to steady herself. The secret to her amazing sense of balance, she said, was 60 minutes of yoga practice every day.
A growing body of research shows that yoga also has a place among alternative treatments for insomnia. A new study of the effects of yoga on the sleep and functioning of older adults suggests how and why.
You’ve heard the advice to get 8 hours of sleep a night? Now they’re saying that 7 hours is the optimal amount of sleep–which may not be very cheering for most people with insomnia. Still our nights do not measure up.
If you have persistent insomnia, and if you fall short of the recommended 7 or 8 hours, it’s natural to wonder if you’re getting enough sleep. Here’s how to get a good sense of how much sleep you really need.
Gardening is a real stress buster for me. I’m actually convinced it makes me less susceptible to insomnia.
I said the same thing on Facebook last May, posted this same photo, and got a ton of “likes.” Who knew so many people found gardening to be relaxing the way I do?
The truth is, it’s really only spring gardening that has this calming effect. Summer weeding and fall cleanup can feel a lot like chores. But the spring planting season: that’s when gardening helps relieve tension and puts me in a contemplative frame of mind.
What can rats tell us about insomnia and sleeping pills? Plenty, it turns out.
I’m getting ready to give a talk on stress-related insomnia and I’ve come across a fascinating study published five years ago. Neuroscientists at Harvard used rats to uncover a novel insight about what may be going on in the human brain when stress interferes with our sleep, and a better way to calm the brain down.
When I’m stressed out about having too much to do, it sometimes happens that just as I get in bed, I remember something important that I forgot. As in, I thought about paying the visa bill last week—it was the third week of the month—but I don’t think I wrote the check. There’s nothing like the thought of pissing away $200 on interest charges to whip my insomnia up.
But now I’ve found a way to manage all that.