If a good night’s sleep eludes you more often than you would like, perhaps my experience of going from a lousy to a better sleeper will be helpful. Some of us have super powers. Sleeping through the night is not one of mine.
Tip #1 – Some six or seven years ago, I just changed my attitude about not sleeping through the night. When I stopped stressing over how not getting enough sleep would be screwing up my next day, I slept better almost immediately. If I am in bed awake, at least I am resting.
Tip #2 – I take melatonin, the natural, over-the-counter sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It is believed that melatonin levels in humans decline with age. I sleep better when I take it. I sleep like crapola when I don’t. It certainly doesn’t knock me out. I still wake once most every night.
At night after reading or doing a crossword puzzle in bed, I usually fall asleep quite easily. The challenge is that I wake in the middle of the night. I get up, do my business, and (Tip #3) never look at the clock.
Tip #4 – If I don’t fall asleep in minutes, I turn on my night light and read, often from the latest Sports Illustrated. Within minutes my concentration wanders and I know it’s time to turn the light off. Often that is enough to take me to Never Neverland.
But after a few minutes, if I am still not asleep, I begin my inspirational recitations silently in the dark (Tip #5).
As a middle school language arts teacher, I wrote Starting Points: How to Set Up and Run a Writing Workshop and Much More. In that book for teachers, I listed Rothermel’s Reasons for Memorizing. (e.g., Reciting allows students to excel in a very visible way, Successful reciting helps develop self-confidence).
It did not include Reciting helps seniors fall asleep. It will in the next edition. You must have had things you had to memorize by rote in school or in church or temple. They become a part of your being. We all know our favorite songs by heart. In the middle of the night, I go for the inspirational sayings and verses that seep into my unconscious and positively affect my days ahead.
(Click on any of these links below for the full text.)
I begin by reciting the opening song at our Unity service. Surely, The Presence of the Lord is in this Place. Chorally at Unity on Sundays, we all sing a variation of Lanny Wolfe’s original piece . It’s short and sweet.
I then move on to the concluding song at our Sunday Unity service – Now, There is Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me. Vince Gill rocks a version of this on YouTube. At night, I lip sync it to myself. I like its rhythm and certainly its message.
Then it’s two classics, Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm. I learned these as a kid when I attended Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Glen Rock, NJ. I like me some King James versions of these time honored favorites. I can literally say them in my sleep. (That is what passes for humor here.)
Usually my mind wanders and often it’s dawn before I know it.
But if these four don’t take me away, I then recite the Serenity Prayer, the longer version. It’s still not all that long.
Then I finish with the coup de grace – The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. It’s the 60s classic written in 1927 that begins Go placidly among the noise and haste and concludes with the universe is unfolding as it should.
MacArthur’s Park by Richard Harris and Meatloaf’s Two out of Three Ain’t Bad are on deck to lull me to sleep.
Tip #6 – Of course, if all else fails, I lie in bed and meditate by focusing on my breath as I breathe in and breathe out.
Most importantly, I have a mellow attitude when I am not asleep. I read, recite, plan for tomorrow, and think about my next blog. And then it’s morning.
Tip #7 – Retire. Okay, I am aware this tip is not viable for many of you; but my sleeping improved the day I retired from the University of New England.
These may not be for everyone, but they work for me.
Please post your suggestions for sleeping well in the comments section of my blog for all to read. Here’s one that I just saw yesterday on the Internet (4-7-8 technique)
You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. http://www.byrdie.com/how-to-fall-asleep-fast
I tried last night. It has potential. It’s an extension of my Tip #6.