Is Your Environment Condusive to Sleep?
Sleep in a cool room (60 degrees or so). Pile on another blanket or add one under the mattress pad rather than turn up the heat. A physician I know used this principle while in medical school; he kept an air conditioner on in his room all year. He said it helped him sleep better so that he needed less sleep. You don't need to go to such extremes, but do keep it cool.
Even a little thing like a dry throat may make sleeping more difficult. Most heating systems dry the air in your bedroom, so borrow a humidifier to use if it will help. Keeping heat down and having a window open can also keep humidity up.
Some people seem to sleep better if there is a white noise—a fan running, for example—in the background. For others, noise can interrupt sleep.
In addition to the fan strategy, try particular kinds of music to blot out the noise.
Play a recording of music that has no words, no definite melody, and not a lot of change in the volume. Baroque music is a good choice. There are many tapes of sounds that aid sleep by quieting the mind, emotions, and body.
Check the Counseling Center library, a mental health center, or holistic health center.
If desperate, you might try ear plugs that workers use on noisy jobs. If you use cotton, be sure to use balls large enough that they won't work down into your ear canal and have to be removed by a physician.
Worrying About Insomnia?
Foucsing on insomnia might make it worse. After all, you won't die from it! It is frequently a symptom of something else excessive worry or anxiety about grades, money, relationships, etc.
If you think a particular worry might be keeping you awake, get up, find paper and a pencil, and jot down something you can do about that worry tomorrow. Put the note where you'll see it when you wake up.
You can set aside your worry and use the remainder of the night for restful sleep. If necessary, use the strategies already described to get back into a regular sleep pattern.
In Bed and Unable to Sleep?
If you are in bad and unable to sleep, many experts suggest getting completely out of bed, sitting in a chair, and reading, writing letters, or doing some quiet activity. As you get sleepy, go back to bed and use a relaxation technique to fall asleep. Make your bed a place to sleep, not a place to get other things done.
Don't get mad at yourself! Try not to worry about not sleeping. Your body's wisdom will take over and you'll begin sleeping regularly as long as you use the five basic strategies described earlier.
The role of exercise cannot be stressed enough! Adding regular exercise--brisk walking, riding an exercycle (perhaps while watching TV), swimming--has helped many people sleep better. The more active your body is during the day, the more likely it is that you'll be able to go to sleep when it's time for your body to be quiet. Quiet time for sleep needs to be a contrast to a more active day.
UW Oshkosh offers many active activities to get involved in. Swimming classes are often offered through campus and community groups. Aerobics classes, which feature some of the best forms of exercise, may be offered at noon and at other times also through the Student Recreation and Wellness Center (srwc) on campus and at exercise centers around town. Students have free access, at scheduled hours, to walking, jogging, exercycles, conditioning machines at the SRWC and swimming at Albee Hall.
Waking Up at Night?
What should you do when you're awake after just two, three, or four hours of sleep? Do not drink, eat, or smoke when you wak up. If you do, you'll find yourself waking up for them after just three or four nights of such treats. Do get out of bed, read, write letters, or do some quiet activity. Reactions to the stresses of everyday life can result in a level of sleep that is easily interrupted. A good stress-management program can help. Contact the University Counseling Center for help with such a program.
Awake at 4 or 5 a.m.? Now What?
Get up and begin the day. If you're rested, you've probably had enough sleep and have a head start on most people. If you're still tired, get up anyway and go through the day, avoiding naps. Start the routines suggested in the basic strategies.
Build an exercise program and stress-management training into your life. By learning to be less stressed during the day, you also learn to sleep better at night.
Not Managing Stress Very Well?
Difficulty in effectively managing normal, everyday stress in life is a common problem. A frequent reqction to daily stresses is insomnia, either sleeponset insomnia or sleep-interrupting insomnia.
A good stress-management program helps you learn how to manage those frequent stressors and go more easily through each day. Check out Biofeedback Training for some information.
You can also find out about stress-management programs from your local mental health centers and family physicians. More and more hospitals are offering such programs to help people develop healthier lifestyles.