Howto: Sleeping Well

Recently I’ve been thinking, that since many people in the city suffers from bouts of insomnia, I could share my thoughts about it and how one could potentially deal with it.

First of, I don’t suffer from insomnia.  The one major time I couldn’t sleep was when I downed a whole tin pot of coffee-tea brew that my good friend Ivan (NTU Hall XI, you know who you are! :p ) made for me.  He did it with the best intention and in a twisted way, I’m grateful for his intentions, but boy I only managed to catch a wink at 5am only to have to wake up at 7+am to do an exam paper for Japanese.

Then there was the other time … … hmmm … … either my memory is failing, or I really don’t have problem with sleeping.

Seriously, I rarely have problems with sleeping.  But I’ve met people who face this difficulty (in some part of the world, they call it a medical condition) and here are some common traits I observe:

  1. Anxiety or worry (about some matter or their lack of sleep itself!)
  2. Bad pre-sleep habits
  3. No sleeping habits

I’ll deal with 2 and 3 first.  Then we’ll come back to 1.

Bad Pre-sleep Habits

Many people who suffer from insomnia either read, watch tv programmes or snack before sleeping.  For some people, these activities induces fatigue or drowsiness and leads to sleep; for some, it is the reverse, leaving them wide awake.

The snacking part usually leaves you lethargic physically, but the mind may still be active and because the body is busy digesting food, chances are, your quality of sleep will not be as good as it can or should be.

No Sleeping Habits

Some people have no routine in their life.  Yes, we know, getting into the routine and all, but a bit of
routine here can help.  If you sleep at irregular hours, you are wreaking havoc with your body.  Notice how you feel hyper, as in jet-lag hyper, if you do one of those whole night bbq thingie?  And mid-day, or earlier, you just crash and sometimes wake up late at night?  That’s your body (and mind!) getting really confused with the hours.

Anxiety or Worry

This is perhaps one of the more chronic cause of insomnia and if you have this problem or know of someone with this problem, pay attention.  Anxiety or worry are mental activities that feeds on itself.  They agitate the mind, keeping it busy and stimulated, preventing sleep from setting in.  If one do fall asleep, the mind may still be playing re-runs and when one sleeps, these re-runs becomes the basis for our sleep … or in some cases nightmares.

What Can You Do?

* Try avoiding food or drink after 8pm.  (I’m talking about lay people here)  Water is fine as long as you don’t mind the loo run.

* If you are one of those who get into the thinking mode from reading, watch tv programmes etc, stop doing it.

* Start a simple journal, outlining your day’s emotion and it’s causes.
– If there are issues you can solve immediately, solve it!  If not, that can go into the to-do list for tomorrow.
– Record the time you sleep and the quality of it.
– Review it after a few weeks.  See if you observe any patterns.  See Daily Exercises for more info.

* Try meditation.  It can calm the mind down and help you to manage your emotions better.

Better already?  This is just the start.  When you are done with insomnia, move on to solve other problems in your life with meditation.  Done?  Look around, help others with theirs; we’ve got a whole world out there waiting for you.

Sleep tight.  Don’t let your karma bite!

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