Finding Sleep Beyond Counting Sheep
By: Megan Piersol
Do you spend numerous nights waking up wondering why it has only been an hour since you went to bed? Do you wake up several times in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to bed? Do you have a mind that won’t stop racing at night? Have you have tried most “remedies” for sleep, yet have failed? Have you tried not watching TV, turning off all technology hours before bed, placing blackout curtains in your room, stopped reading in bed, listening to white noise machines, only made your bed a place to sleep, or a variety of these things? You aren’t alone.
As someone who suffers from sleepless nights and has tried every common remedy (most of which don’t make a difference), I understand where you are coming from. I have recently set out to try things that help me go back to sleep. If you struggle with staying asleep, waking up several times in the night, and/or find it hard to shut off your brain at night, then keep posted. I have been recently trying things and reading a book of recommendations for sleep aid. As I do my research and experimentation, I will give a blog update about what didn’t work and maybe something that did. This doesn’t mean that these things will or won’t work for you, but maybe something will help or give you other ideas to try.
I recently tried two options. A podcast called “Sleep with me” and a Spotify nature noise selection. Both failed to humor my brain into a nice lull. If anything, it kept my brain annoyed or awaiting the next sound that would emit. The guy speaking in the podcast didn’t have a very comforting/calming voice. I think watching golf does a better job at putting me to sleep. The nature sounds were soothing and relaxing, but somehow kept my brain entertained and intrigued to stay up to wait for the next new sound.
One thing that I have found to work when I can’t get back to sleep is a trick I learned from a sleep book I randomly found discounted at Barnes and Noble. It suggested imagining being in the home you grew up in or a place that you loved and start “walking through the rooms” picturing all the pictures hanging, the colors, the furniture, etc that filled that room. Before I knew it, I fell asleep to gazing at the family picture and high school pictures of myself and my siblings displayed in the hallway of the home I grew up in. I didn’t even make it to the living room. Perhaps I started here as this hallway was where my siblings and I would constantly pass each other, where we would sometimes play games when we were supposed to be in bed, where we would lay and look through the encyclopedias and ocean books, and where we would wait patiently for our parents to get us for opening presents at Christmas time. A nice comforting memory and place to help my brain turn off and find peace.
A final trial was listening to one “Meditation Minis” podcast with Chel Hamilton through Spotify. She provides short little brain activities to get the brain distracted and focusing on relaxing, getting rid of negative thoughts or things contributing to life stress. The first one I listened to talked about being on top of a mountain and daring to look out below or to stay away from edge if the fear of heights was too scary for brain. She made you imagine the landscape and then pushing rocks of various sizes off the cliff. The rocks represented different stressors in life to release or let go of for the day or for good. I turned her off after 6 minutes in, but used the concepts to develop my own story instead of having her constantly talking and walking me through everything. I also didn’t want her influencing too much and overwhelming my brain.
I plan to try the rock pushing and walking through the house I grew up in for a month or two to see if it holds up. I imagine my brain may get bored of these two things and will need something else. I will continue to try a few other things and will keep you posted if I find anything interesting to share.