What Helps You Go To Sleep?

I’m an insomniac, by my own diagnosis. Maybe that’s not the exact term for it, though.

I’m not looking for any medical advice at all. I was just wondering what the Dopers do about getting to sleep, and sleeping through the night.

I get around four hours of sleep and I’m good to go (For instance, tonight. I got 3 1/2 hours sleep. I’m wide awake now, and I have a full day ahead of me, and I feel just fine).
If I need to grab a nap during the day, I do so. It is never a long nap, but maybe an hour at the most, and would be the longest amount of time I have ever been able sleep, nap-wise.

I keep the bedroom cool, as I prefer the room to be cool when I go to bed. I keep it pitch dark, too. It’s very quiet in my bedroom, also. I like it quiet and dark when I go to bed.

I don’t take sleeping pills, as I’ve been there, done that. I still do not sleep more than four hours. They just don’t seem to effect me at all. I’ve even tried the herbal stuff, and the melatonin. No change in my sleep pattern with those, either.

Maybe I just don’t require all that much sleep, I don’t know. Is it possible that some people don’t need all that much sleep?

I’m a 45 year old female, and reasonably healthy, aside from being diabetic, but that’s something I really can’t do anything about. I take my three injections every day, take my meds, I keep my blood glucose in check quite well, and I’m physically fine. No health problems other than diabetes.

I’m mentally sharp throughout the day. It’s not really ‘hurting’ me by not getting lots of sleep, I don’t think. But, I’d still just LOVE to be able to sleep more than four hours!
On a rare occasion, I’ll sleep 5 hours, but that’s maybe once every 3 months, I’ll bet.

I was wondering…Is there is anything special you might do to help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep for longer than four hours?

Physical exhaustion? I sleep really good after a day outside. Sex works wonders too.

Ear plugs. I used to have terrible insomnia, for years, but using ear plugs has made a huge difference. I never realized that all those little noises (heat pump, minor traffic noise, etc.) were keeping me alert. I use them every night.

I also wear a sleep mask. Mine is the homemade kind - cotton scarves. They help, too, but are not as crucial as the ear plugs.

I agree with the physical exhaustion and the earplugs - both of those help me to get a full night’s sleep. I’ve been an insomniac since I was about 11 years old (24 now). Some other things I find helpful: Trying to go to bed and get up around the same time each day, not using my bed for anything other than sleeping (no playing video games or reading in bed for me), and cutting back on stress. The stress thing is the most important for me - if I’m worried about something in my life I will wake up thinking about if several times a night.

Do you have trouble falling asleep but stay asleep until the alarm goes off? Do you wake up often or drift in and out of sleep? Is it that you only wake up once, but once you’re up you’re UP and there’s no way you’re falling back to sleep?

ETA: I’ve also found that I sleep best if I match my rest time with my biological clock. I’m much more active and alert at night, and I’ve found that it’s much easier for me to get a full eight hours when I’m working nights and sleeping days. If you’re a morning person but have to keep late nights for work or vice versa that may be messing up your sleep, too.

I wake up once, and after that, there is no way I can go back to sleep. It also takes me forever to fall asleep when I go to bed.

Earplugs and masks are out, as my bedroom is very quiet and dark. So, noise and/or light aren’t a problem.

You might try either melatonin or 5-HTP or both.

Melatonin: Nature’s Sleeping Pill

5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia

Look up sleep hygiene


Quiet, cool, and dark.
Clean sheets. If they go for more than a week, I can smell them and it bothers me.
Clean pajamas, ditto, but every three days.
Exercise during the day.
Sleep hygiene: I do not get into bed unless I am going to sleep. I do not take naps unless absolutely necessary. I don’t even spend time in the bedroom, unless I’m sleeping or dressing.
I always eat something before bed, unless I’ve had a large and late dinner. If I don’t, hunger will wake me up in the middle of the night.

I can help make myself sleepy by pushing my pillows aside and laying on my stomach, with one cheek on the mattress. Sometimes I fall asleep like this, sometimes when I put my head back on the pillows. I guess it’s something about the bloodflow pattern to the head, but this puts me out almost every night.

Often, taking one Advil helps me go to sleep and keeps me that way. I’m a tense person, I grind my teeth and get tension headaches, so I guess I have low-grade muscle pain that can keep me awake.

Valerian tea can be a pretty powerful sleeping drug. I have problems with it magnifying my moods the next day, though, so I don’t use it.

Something else that I know works, although it’s not something one feels like spending time doing in the middle of the night, is to soak in a hot bath with lavender bubbles or oil or something. EO makes a bubble bath with real lavender oil. The lavender is soporific, and also, getting warmed up and then cooling off–like when you get into a cool bed–tends to put you to sleep.[ul]

No caffeine for 8-10 hours before bedtime.

When I get insomnia, it’s usually my brain jumping around and awake, while my body is exhausted. Use all that nice brain imagination to give yourself a nice big orgasm. That’ll shut down the brain for a while.

Some sound that’s interesting enough to keep my brain from revving up on something stressful, but not interesting enough to really be gripping. If my brain is left to its own devices, I’ll start to focus on work, family, global warming, etc. Discovery Channel and the like on TV are often good background noise because they get just the right amount of my attention.

The iPod helps now that I’ve discovered a number of podcasts that meet those requirements; often if I turn over, or get up during the night to use the bathroom, the brain wakes up and I’m hosed for the rest of the night. If I plug in an earphone and start a podcast, often I remember only the first minute or so of it (which can be annoying if it’s one I really want to listen to; I have to make time to relisten when I’m awake the next day :))

All great ideas! Thanks! I’ll really have to try the sleep hygiene stuff.

I listen to soothing music through headphones, or else one of those pillows that plugs into the mp3 player: http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2006/05/cozy_tunes_speaker_pillow.html

Earplugs are cheap so give them them a try anyway. I once thought my room was quiet too but I had a terrible time falling and staying asleep. Turns out that even the sound of my clock ticking could keep me awake. Now I sleep like a baby all through the night and even have dreams like I used to long, long ago.

If you get earplugs, go for the cylindrical kind, not the ones that are shaped like bullets or little rocket ships. I cut mine in half because a whole one was uncomfortable when sleeping on my side. Still works great in blocking out sound and you get twice as many for the same price. YMMV.

However, it could be that your body only needs 4 hours of sleep a night. Many people from Thomas Edison to Martha Stewart have thrived on that little sleep. Me, I wouldn’t know what to do with all those extra hours of wakefulness but if you can fill them and don’t suffer from lack of sleep, then maybe, as Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

I’ve had sleep problems all my adult life (of the wake up and can’t get back to sleep variety), and nothing has helped me with this like meditation and conscious relaxation. These things taught me how to relax and turn my brain off; I haven’t meditated in a long time now, but my body has learned how to do it, and retains the memory. A couple of examples for you for how effective it has been for me: a while ago, my husband and I were arguing in bed, and I was extremely angry. I decided it was time to go to sleep, so I consciously relaxed and was asleep about five minutes later. I have been extremely stressed regarding job/career issues lately, but I haven’t missed any sleep at all. I still wake up multiple times in the night, but I fall right back to sleep. It just isn’t an issue any more.

I drink :frowning:

I don’t go to bed until I’m really sleepy. That could be 9:30 at night or more often is 12:00 or 12:30. I also like to set the sleep timer on the bedroom TV for 20 minutes, I hardly ever see it turn off. zzzz

I put some Rammstein on my clock/radio and that puts me out like a light :smiley:

Seriously though, I’ve never been an insomniac, but I’ve always found having music of some sort on while I’m falling to sleep helps me get to sleep faster. Listening to it helps shut my brain off, preventing me from mulling over lots of things from the day before in my head.

Holding or being held. I can be wide wide awake, but after just a few minutes of spooning, I’ll be out like a light.

That’s interesting. For me, the one thing that will keep me awake is music. I can ignore ticking clocks, traffic, light, pretty much anything, but turn on some music and my brain stops drifting and hooks on to the melody or the words or the beat and that’s it, no sleep for me.

And on preview, I agree with ArchiveGuy. Spooning puts me out like a light too. Drives my husband nuts because I’m asleep in two minutes and he stays awake for the next half hour.