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- Why People Struggle Falling Asleep and Staying Asleep
- My Personal Problems Falling Asleep
- Tip 1 - Go See an Ears, Nose & Throat Specialist
- Tip 2 - Bluetooth Wireless Headphones & Audiobooks
- Tip 3 - Chamomile Tea and Hemp
I feel terrible for people that can’t fall asleep at night. I used to be one of them. Sleep deprivation hurts us in more ways than many people truly understand. It can be difficult to drill down to the underlying fundamental problems that cause us to suffer at work or in our relationships. People wonder why they are so unhappy when they have every reason to be happy. They may have their health, a lovely family and youthful vitality, yet something is dragging them down.
Maybe they made an error at work and were embarrassed during a meeting. Maybe they irrationally snapped at their boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s important to ask questions like; why did I make that mistake at work? Or, why did I snap like that at her? While the issue for an employer might be that an error was made, and while a significant other may be peeved about being snapped at, none of that explains why the errors or outbursts are happening in the first place. It may simply be that they aren’t getting enough sleep.
Why People Struggle Falling Asleep and Staying Asleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep at night to function at peak performance throughout the day. There are a number of factors that can keep you from falling asleep at night, waking up intermittently throughout the night or that cause you to wake up too early. Some people have disorders where it feels like they are sleeping, but they never get the amount of deep REM sleep that they need. They wake up still feeling incredibly sleepy and battle exhaustion all day.
Some people suffer from chronic pain that prevents them from falling asleep and staying asleep. Some people worry so much about everything that is happening in their lives that they cannot relax enough to drift off. Some people suffer from stomach problems that keeps them running to the bathroom time and again at night. Some people have acid reflux while others have conditions like sleep apnea that never lets them go beyond a very shallow sleep. Some people have minds that just meander pointlessly keeping them awake. Some people have significant others that snore so badly they wake up their partners frequently at night.
My Personal Problems Falling Asleep
I fell into that category of having an overactive mind that thinks about the most pointless stuff in the world. I would like to think that my overactive brain is due to my genius, but it’s not. I would find myself thinking about the silliest things that had no real significance to anyone’s life. I also snored like a locomotive and my doctor told me they thought I had sleep apnea. They wanted to test me but I refused. Not because I was stubborn, (well maybe) but because I knew I would never use that cpap machine. Who wants to strap on a Darth Vader mask every night to go to sleep?
I started getting chronic sinus infections at one point and my doctor referred me to an ears, nose and throat specialist. The ENT never even mentioned sleep apnea to me. They did however tell me that my allergies were causing fluid to gather in my sinuses regularly which was the reason for my sinus infections. (Congestion from allergies, another thing that keeps people awake at night.) The ENT also said they wanted to do a CT scan of my face which I let them. It turned out that I had a super deviated septum and overgrown turbinates. He said that the airflow through my nose was practically non-existent.
Tip 1 - Go See an Ears, Nose & Throat Specialist
If your doctor has told you that you have sleep apnea, if they told you that you should use a cpap machine but never referred you to an ears, nose and throat specialist, then go see one. Those doctors are the only ones specialized enough in breathing disorders to properly diagnose you and provide a suite of solutions. The list of solutions may not even include a cpap machine. My doctor put me under temporarily in an in-office procedure, pulled out the over-sized turbinates, straightened out my septum and cut off my uvula (that flap that hangs in the back of your throat). I don’t snore anymore. I wake up feeling refreshed and find that I have much more stamina when I do cardio. My doctors have not brought up sleep apnea once since then, and it has been years.
However, I still had trouble falling asleep initially at night. I would lie awake either staring at the back of my eyelids, looking at the ceiling or watching mindless television. My stupid brain would not let me calm down enough to fall asleep and the next thing I would know it would be 2 am. By the time I fell asleep soundly, my alarm would be going off and I would have to drag myself out of bed to get my kids ready for school. It was torturous, but I found a two-fold solution.
Tip 2 - Bluetooth Wireless Headphones & Audiobooks
I got a very nice pair of bluetooth wireless headphones for the Holidays a few years back. They fit very comfortably on my head, they have noise canceling and I can control sound, 30 second playbacks and the play/pause function right on the side of the headset. Their battery-life is long too. At first, I listened to music on my headphones while I tried to go to sleep, but I found my mind still wandered a lot with the music. So, I thought about it and decided that I needed something that I could focus more of my attention on. I had at first objected to audiobooks since I am fully capable of reading, but for this purpose they made sense. I would pay more attention to a story than I would to the rhythm of music.
I read all sorts of material all day long. I read the news, new tech innovations and information for my career. For sleeping purposes, that sort of content was not good because I need to really pay attention and internalize it all. Not something I am really looking to do when I am trying to fall asleep. I found fiction worked the best, where I didn’t care about catching every last detail. It’s like watching Stranger Things, it’s a great story but if I miss a character’s name or a plot twist, I’m ok with it. If I fall asleep listening to a fictional story with my headphones and wake up to find I am now 10 chapters ahead of where I was, I just don’t care. By the way, make sure you put your headphones on the lowest sound setting possible.
Tip 3 - Chamomile Tea and Hemp
I am all about natural alternatives. Hemp is always something to consider. I don’t want to get high, so I avoid anything with THC. I also don’t want to fail a drug test. It makes the pure Hemp isolate alternatives out there perfect for me. I also drink hot chamomile tea before going to bed. The hot tea and Hemp oil is a nice combination while I listen to audiobooks. I find myself drifting off to sleep fast and my open airways keep me asleep. I even look forward to going to bed now. The stories can be great and I look forward to getting back to them. For most of my adult-life, I have almost dreaded going to bed. For me, open airways, a focusing distraction and some soothing natural herbs are the perfect combination for a great night’s sleep.