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Sleep Tips?

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#1 Jes

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 06:15 PM

So many of us suffer from insomnia, myself included sometimes! Does anyone have any favorite falling asleep tricks? I'd like to compile a list and eventually move it into wonderful threads.

Thanks :)


Here's a bit that I have cut and pasted from my website.

After my rape, I had a lot of difficulty falling asleep and when I finally did my sleep was sometimes interrupted by nightmares. I've found that this is really common among survivors. Most of us experience these problems at some point in time in our healing.

Sleeping Tips

* Wake early to exercise. I find that going to they gym in the evening gives me enough energy to start my whole day again.
* Make sure you use your bedroom for sleeping only. If you live in a college dormitory or with your family, try to use your desk for activities like studying and reading.
* Make a bedtime ritual. I usually drink a cup of Celestial Seasoning's Sleepytime Extra. It has herbs in it to aid sleep, but since it is a ritual, I feel like it sends my body a signal saying, "Sleep is coming."
* Some people find that natural remedies, like Valerian, Kava Kava and Melatonin, which can be found at your health food store help. Others find that melatonin, in particular, causes nightmares.
* Avoid caffienated beverages in the afternoon.
* Alcohol might make you fall asleep, but you'll probably wake up after long, so try to avoid drinking before bed.
* Avoid exciting activities before bed. Watching exciting movies or playing competitive games doesn't put most of us in the mood for sleep.
* Lock your bedroom door if it makes you feel safer. Sometimes, I'll picture people I love standing outside the door, ready to protect me. Silly, I know, but it helps me feel safe.
* Daydream when you get into bed. I usually day dream about being at the beach, watching the sunset, which sometimes brings me into a dream.
* Relax each muscle, starting with your feet, and working up to the rest of your body.
* Sleep with a stuffed animal!. It's not silly. I sleep with Puppy and I know a lot of other people who have their favorite friends accomany them to bed.
* Wear lavendar oil to bed. It's a really calming scent. I dab it onto my pillowcases and there are lavendar washes that you can buy to scent your sheets, like this one.
* If you have difficulty falling asleep or sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, make sure that a quiet, relaxing activity is available to you, like a rather dull book. Try doing this instead of lying in bed awake.


After I was raped, I was often woken up by nightmares. The most common one I had was of an attacker outside of my bedroom door or standing above my bed, but I had lots of other more complex and difficult ones. Reliving the trauma through dreams is common for all of us and a normal part of the healing process. That doesn't make it fun though. I hope you'll find these ideas helpful.

* When you wake up, write the nightmare down.
* Alternately, you could try drawing or painting it. I'm not artistic, so this idea wouldn't work for me, but it has for others.
* Usually, when I am awoken by a bad dream, I'll try to imagine it ending differently. For instance, when I dream that there is someone outside my door, I'll look around and wake up enough to feel safe. Then I immediately put my head down and imagine that my dog is chasing the attacker out of the house. Usually this will become a dream and I'll end up falling asleep.
* At other times, I'm able to somehow consciously control my dream without ever waking up.
* Talk about them with a trusted friend or counselor. Talking about them can give them less control over us.
* Try to understand them. They are an important part of healing and usually have something to tell us about any unresolved feelings we have Understanding our nightmares and dreams can be a step towards identifying these emotions and resolving them. You can do this just by thinking about what the nightmare meant to you, or by looking at dream books to find the symbolism in them.

#2 dora

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 06:32 PM

oooo great thread topic jes!!! :D

some good ideas there

i find that keeping a notepad and pen next to my bed helps. if im fretting and thinking about loads of stuff i grab my pad (turn the bedside lamp on first!) and scribble it down. then i can let it go and not worry that i might forget something *important*. instead of laying awake ruminating on the same thing over and over!
(must remember that must remember that must remember that... type stuff)

i have just discovered a CD by Dr jeffrey thompson (the relaxation company)... delta sleep system 2.0
i dunno if theres any valid science or evidence behind it, but its supposed to help induce delta brainwaves (deep sleep) i dont know if it does or not, but i do find i sleep better with it. and remember fewer dreams etc. (a sign that im not waking up during REM sleep so much)

also, i usually have better sleep and more unbroken deep sleep if i go to bed early. i mean 7 to 8pm.
not great socially. (hmmmmm problem that) but i do sleep so very much better and wake up about 5-7am feeling refreshed. dont ask me why!!!!! i dunno. just works for me.

i find that doing some gentle yoga stretches, meditation, chakra-cleansing type stuff before bed helps me too. but whatever relaxes you. i like the yoga because if ive stretched out my muscles and ligaments and stuff, i tend to feel more relaxed and comfrotable in bed with less aches and pains.

i also try to maintain fluid intake during the day so im not dehydrated, but avoid drinking much in the evening so i dont need to pee in the night!! lol

also try to eat something long-acting before bed. i know i know you arent supposed to eat before bed. but i find it helpful to eat a bowl of porridge. goes down easily and slow energy release so i dont get hunger pangs during the night. just another way of making sure my body feels comfortable when i go to bed.


#3 Reese

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 10:14 PM

Dora mentioned going to bed early and I've read that for children putting them to bed early helps them to sleep better/later. I know sometimes parents think that if you keep your children up later that will make them sleep in more but they say the opposite is true. The later they go to bed the worse they sleep because they are overexhausted and can't rest well. I would guess the same is true for adults, if you go to bed before you are past the 'tired point' then it makes the sleep you get better and more energizing. Also, you should not play video games right before bed, something about it gets your brain 'revving' and makes it harder to go to sleep and can give you bad nightmares. For me it helps to have a routine(like Jes said) that really allows you to let your body know that it's sleep time. I like to put on relaxing music(for me it's Coldplay w/the volume turned down) and read for a minute then when I close my eyes I daydream about something that doesn't have anything to do w/RL or stuff I have to do in the future. There's tons of stuff about how to get babies/kids to sleep longer and better, I think that some of those strategies could be easily adapted to adults?
Take care

#4 moonstar

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 11:46 PM

having the approprate lighting or lack there of -- I sleep differently with different amounts of light on... and sleep more comfortably when its totally dark, but this is different for everyone.

keeping things consistant... if possible plan to go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. your body gets into a rythym so that when its time to go to sleep, your ready, and when its time to get up you are to.

sleeping in different places: Matressed beds trigger me lots. but I'll sleep alll night on a waterbed. Sometimes sleeping on the floor, or couch makes me feel safer and sleep better than my bed... chaging the type of sheets, pillow, blanket may help... I was triggered by a set of sheets I bought once and it took me weeks to figure it out...but when the sheets went my sleep got much better. Also changing the location of the bed, or hieght can make a difference. (I sleep better on bunk beds than on lower bunks. the higher i can make a bed, the better)

#5 marie

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 01:09 AM

Taking a warm bath before bed helps me feel more relaxed and ready to sleep. Sometimes, I'll use a lavender-chamomile bath for babies :) (I'm not crazy about the scent of lavender, but I can deal with this one.)

Spending the hour before bed doing nothing but relaxing activities.

Exercising earlier in the day (not too close to bedtime) and spending some time outside (even just for a walk around the block) during daylight hours seems to help get my body clock back on track.

Music used to help put me to sleep. There was one song in particular I'd always play and, after a while, all it took was hearing the song to put me to sleep! (Not so good during the day, though ;))

These days, because I feel like I need a night light, I put on movies that I'm familiar with (so I don't feel the need to stay awake until it ends) and that aren't suspenseful or anxiety-provoking. I usually fall asleep about 15 minutes into them.

I've also found that a stuffed animal (or, even better, a real animal...like a dog) can help me feel safer when I fall asleep. I have a Classic Tigger doll, and, sometimes, (as silly as this is) I pretend he's my real-live guardian tiger. When I was little, I used to pretend that there was a band of angels surrounding me, protecting me.

Making sure that the temperature is comfortable!!! When I'm too hot or too cold, I find it especially hard to sleep well.

I've also found that I have to be *willing* to go to bed. Otherwise, I will fight it until I'm so exhausted I can't keep myself awake anymore.

#6 Mary

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 03:02 PM

it sounds silly to be my age and still have this problem sometimes, but sometimes i am still afraid of the dark, and that sometimes keeps me from sleeping (its more a fear of what or who may be around that i cant see, and i think after my rape it got worse because all the things in my life that kinda scared me just started to be overwhelming at that point). and to make matters worse i tend to not be able to sleep well with lights on. what ive found works for me is keeping a small light on in my room and having an eye mask to block the light. i got a really nice one from pier 1 that has lavender in it too.

also, when my mind is running a mile a minute, i try counting things. doesnt have to be sheep, sometimes its just counting to 100 and back. i do it very slowly and try to concentrate on each number. it helps me not think about everything in my life.

also to relax i like starting at my toes and imagining each muscle very slowly starting to relax


#7 Stef

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 03:12 PM

Read something really boring. I usually choose a contract law essay when I can't sleep. You'll be in deepest slumber within minutes. ;)

One thing my family has preached for centuries - run cold water over your arms and legs, the blood from your head will rush there to warm up your body, it always makes you sleep.

Valerian also helps for me as does calming music.

As Jes suggested, daydreams also help. Sometimes I daydream about books I am reading and 'finish' them in my head, like solve the mystery, defeat the villain, let the characters get married or something like that. When there's something you really want to 'finish', you always fall asleep before you have reached the end you wanted to get to. So frustrating. ;)


Edited by Sav, 28 May 2006 - 03:14 PM.

#8 Whitney

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 03:27 PM

I have a saying I say at night that's become a talisman of sorts for me...

"Make a circle, seal it tight
Keep this whole house safe tonight
Nothing evil can come near
There's a magic circle here"

I do a visualization of my "safe place" while I try to fall asleep. I actually have 3 different places that I've created in my mind as "safe places" & depending on where I am emotionally, I pick the one that feels safest. I think the key to these visualizations is adding in details to them - to make them as fully realized as they can be, even if they're entirely fictional.

I know I have more suggestions - I'll keep thinking...

Of course, sleep meds don't hurt either... ;)

Also, there was once a thread in wonderful threads called the pandy's insomniac club - maybe we can steal some suggestions from that if it's still there? Or somehow combine the two threads? I'll go look for it & boost it if I find it.

#9 Allen

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 04:19 PM

If someone will tell me how to link a topic I will link my dream exercise here.It can work wonders if it is worked hard.I also like to read myself to sleep and sometimes if I am having tro8ubles with nightmares and the exercise isn't working I will turn the tv on very low to a channel like discovery or history or something where I can fall asleep to something that won't get loud or scary.

Lots of Love,

#10 Crimson Pain and Regret

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 10:51 PM

Just boosting this! :)


#11 dora

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 06:50 AM

thought id add:

i have tried all sorts of herbal sleep tablets
to no real avail
but last night i finally tried a valerian tincture (liquid). put a dropper full in a glass of water.
for some reason this worked much better for me than any of the tablets. (not sure why!!!)
got it from Holland & Barrett

also if im churning up inside and feeling distressed and stuff, i call the samaritans
i seem to calm down alot after ive talked for a while, and then i get to sleep easier.
08457 90 90 90 24hr national line

also the thing with lighting.
i always used to have to sleep with the light on. but then found the light kept me awake alot, but was too scared without it.
my compromise was to get a blindfold thingy eyecover
so i had the dark but the second i felt scared i could whip it off and the light was on and there.


#12 Tasha

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 08:36 AM

- Sleeping with my nightlight and hallway light on

- Sleeping with my cat, especially during the time when I was afraid to sleep because I wouldn't hear an intruder. My cat's hearing is so much better than mine, and he would alert me to any tiny noise. It was a comforting thought and still is at times.

- Sleeping with my teddy bear

- A cup of warm milk before bed...something my grandma used to do

- A baseball bat or golf club by my bed, lol

- Reading in bed sometimes helps me to get sleepy (light reading, that is)

- I think the main things that helped me to sleep were to get rid of all the "bedtime rules". For a long time, I could only sleep on the couch in my living room, where I felt safest out in the open and able to hear possible intruders better than I could in my bedroom, which also felt too closed in. I also wrapped up tightly in a blanket like a cocoon. Those things helped me to sleep more than anything else. My therapist also told me to sleep whenever and wherever I could...on the couch or recliner instead of in my bed, or during the day if possible...to do whatever helped to get some sleep.

#13 thriver

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 09:24 AM

Jes--this is such a great idea! Thanks for starting this. I have a piece about turning your bedroom into a peaceful sanctuary (very difficult for me to imagine for years) on my website under "What Works." It's called "Bedroom Bliss." There's also a simple meditation there that I used night after night for a while to help me relax. Here's the link: http://www.survivors...-WhatWorks.html.

I think my favorite and most reliable calmer is lavender essential oil. I sprinkle some on my pillowcase and it really relaxes me (it washes right out). Another thing that really helps me get over the "jumpies" is taking calcium and magnesium supplements before bed. This combination acts as a kind of natural muscle relaxer.

#14 Maaike

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 03:07 PM

I always sleep without a curtain so I can see the moon. I don't know why but it calms me. When I wake up afraid, every night, I look outside when I am calmer. Now it's hard, my bf is far away from me and I'm travelling between two countries. But I sleep better when I am with him. I feel so safe when I am in his strong arms, then I feel nothing but love from him. When I wake up and I have nightmares it's him who calms me down the most.
When I am alone, like I am for the following two weeks, I don't know what to do and stay awake for a long time. There's not much that helps me right now.

#15 squirrely

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 03:40 PM

Great tips Jes!

Some serious safety & perhaps of less concern (liability!!!) when referring to natural remedies:

I would refrain from referring to Kava Kava in particular as
1 ) When taken with benzodiazepines it has caused people to go into a coma
2) It is liver toxic, which is why it was yanked from the shelves in the US

Valerian in much rarer cases can also be toxic to liver, more of a concern in those who's liver doesnt function as well due to substance abuse or dependency, hepatitis or being on many meds which are processed by the liver.

Great point about Melatonin and nightmares, it can also cause some serious headache esp those who already suffer from migraines.

I have a great review article which overviews the use of herbals in neuropsychiatric disorders in general as well as an article specific to insomnia. If you would like the references for yourself just send me a PM.


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