I’m one of thousands of people who suffers from insomnia. My record is some ten days with tiny naps in between, maybe ten or fifteen minute intervals a few times a day. It was brutal. And I made a lot of cookies. Way too many cookies. Enough that my roommate took the flour away. He was a boy – he loved my cookies.
I’m not alone. There are some pretty intense statistics out there for insomniacs. 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia. 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months. And 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months (and sometimes years – hi, friends! I think I’ve seen you before!).
Symptoms of insomnia are pretty basic. There are 3 defining factors that sleep centers recognize. The first is trouble falling asleep. The second is staying asleep through the night. And the third is waking up early (even if you go to bed late). Not everyone has all three symptoms, but if you do – and you have them for a long time – you should speak to a doctor. Other symptoms (or causes!) of insomnia are sleep apnea, chronic snoring, and other breathing disorders.
The results of insomnia are pretty obvious in the short term:
- trouble focusing,
- memory problems (P. Sherman. 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.),
- general crabbiness,
- mood instability,
- low energy, and
- more accidents.
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But the long term effects can be far more worrisome. Severe health problems can occur and are sometimes based in not enough sleep:
Chronic snoring and sleep apnea have been linked to:
- Increased risk of heart disease,
- Brain disorders (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia)
- High blood pressure
- Increased stroke risk
But other general factors of sleep deprivation are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Mental impairment
- Fetal and childhood growth retardation
- Injury from accidents
- Disruption of bed partner’s sleep quality, and,
- Poor quality of life (we spend an average of 63 BILLION dollars on our inability to sleep every year!)
Now that is a lot of things that can happen. And I don’t really want any of them. I do know that lack of sleep certainly affects my weight, which in turn affects my quality of sleep, which makes me not sleep. It’s a pretty bitter cycle.
So What to Do
Maybe you’re not usually an insomniac, maybe it happens a few times a year and you don’t like staring at your clock or your ceiling those few nights when it does happen. For chronic or long-term insomnia, you really do need to speak to a doctor. But here are the things I do to help me get to sleep.
- Rituals – I do the same thing every night before I go to bed. My going to bed process starts about 4 hours before I go to bed.
- Stop eating 4 hours before bedtime.
- Start diffusing my CELC oil combination (recipe below)
- Take a hot shower/bath 2 hours before I go to bed.
- Turn off the TV after my shower – I read or listen to radio plays.
- Casual bedtime yoga. Nothing strenuous, mostly Happy Baby pose and putting my feet up the wall
- My “Bed Time” Oil combo (recipe below)
- No clocks. Keep them out of your bed and face them away from you – avoid the temptation to look.
- Don’t work in bed – ever. You don’t want to subconsciously associate your bed with anything negative.
- Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep. Tossing and turning is going to make you stress out, and obsess over time. Go do something else. I take walks around my building or do yoga or take another hot shower to relax.
- 2 drops cedarwood
- 2 drops of eucalyptus
- 2 drops of lavender
- 2 drops of clove
Diffuse these in an essential oil diffuser (make sure you include a water base!). Do it in your bedroom between 2-4 hours before bed.)
Bed Time Oil
You can put this in a roller ball or in a spritzer or make it a solid perfume-rub.
- 20 drops of lavender
- 20 drops of bergamot
- 10 drops of cedarwood
- 10 drops of vetiver
- 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or shea/mango/cocoa butter) OR water if you’re going the spritzing way
I like this as a solid perfume, but other people like it as a roller ball. Apply it to your temples and behind your ears and under your nose.
If you choose the spritz you can apply it directly to your pillow, using your pillowcase as a boundary.
Remember to shake vigorously before use.
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