Over the years I have had trouble with sleeping for various reasons. Some have been due to short term issues and others have been long term that I have learned to monitor and manage. The first was sleep apnea in connection to the Muscular Dystrophy that affects my whole body. This condition means my airways partially close and I don’t breathe deeply enough when I sleep, which mean I don’t get enough oxygen. Other people who experience this are often bad snorers or may stop breathing briefly because their airway relaxes too much. This means they can end up waking suddenly as their brain jolts them awake to start breathing properly. My experience of this condition before it was managed was being very tired, especially in the morning and having a headache or hangover feeling for some time when I woke up. I have managed this condition by using a machine called a V-PAP with a face mask, which breathes in and out as I do but with extra air pressure to make sure I breathe enough. Most people who have apnea use a machine called a C-PAP which is constant air pressure which helps to hold people’s airway open so they continue to breathe properly.
The second reason was the effects of an episode of depression which led me to sleeping too much. This symptom only lasted for several months as part of situational depression. In contrast the anxiety which has been more of a long-term condition made me have trouble with getting enough sleep as I would often feel so unsettled that I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep. The other aspect of anxiety’s effect on my sleep is that I would wake up frequently or for extended periods of time due to panic episodes or physical symptoms triggered by the anxiety making me uncomfortable. With these more recent years of experience with difficulty sleeping and developing an understanding of the brain patterns contributing to this, I thought I would put together a list of some of the things I have found helpful in getting more quality sleep.
- Having a bedtime routine like shower, read a book/meditate/listen to chill music and then sleep.
- Avoiding stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, excess sugar in the later part of the day.
- Doing exercise regularly so you are burning enough energy from your body and giving yourself the positive input of endorphins.
- Having activities/actions to help address any stress or anxiety which you might be experiencing.
- Having a balanced diet with a good amount of fruit and vege and not going to bed overly full.
- Keep your work space separate from your sleeping space and ideally don’t use your computer or tv or phone in your bedroom or at least not right before sleeping, as the blue light frequency and the stimulation of the content impacts the brains process for winding down.
- Start journaling to get your thoughts out which will help you have a clearer head to sleep.
- Try drinking relaxing herbal tea such as camomile at night.
- Use lavender essential oil on a cloth by your pillow or get a diffuser.
- You can get sleep apps that have various sounds like whale song, rain, white noise etc which help or you can go to YouTube and try videos like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZICPIa4BHNo&list=WL&index=4&t=3538s