Bonjour, bons amis, Joyeu Lundi!
I have recently discovered in my mid-30s that I’m facing a new challenge that I would have NEVER guessed would be on my “in your 30s” list: I regularly have trouble sometimes falling asleep at night, or staying asleep through the night.
I used to be able to sleep 8-10 hours undisturbed, no problem. Growing up, my family used to make fun of me because I would sleep so soundly, I wouldn’t even move or change positions in bed. But alas, time has brought about this new struggle, and I’m determined to fix this problem.
I used to sleep as soundly as this guy…
9-5 9-6 9-7 gig requires being connected to a laptop, blackberry, cell phone, Twitter and lots and lots of email correspondence every day. So by the time I get home in the evenings, usually while I’m winding down and cooking/eating dinner, my brain is still racing, overwhelmed with data, emails, things to do, follow-up emails to send, etc.
The other half of this growing problem is self-induced. I am and have always been quite curious about lots of ‘things’ and ‘stuff,’ and I love to learn, even if the majority of this ‘stuff’ is only fit for the first round of Jeopardy at best. However, compound this curiosity with the work communications, and it takes far longer to turn my brain off for sleep at night. I have self-diagnosed this as a condition I call ‘Communication Fatigue.’
- Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night for more than five hour increments, and to ‘quiet’ my mind
- Forgetfulness of basic things: what I wore yesterday, what I ate for lunch yesterday, my coworker’s name (even though we’ve worked together for years…), the reason for walking into a room, etc.
- Inability to finish any one task because of being distracted by an email, phone call, text message, cell phone notification, etc.
- General disdain for making/receiving phone calls after 7pm from family and/or friends (sorry!!)
- Inability to stop thinking about the day’s communications, world problems, career path, need to better one’s diet, need to exercise more, need to do everything more and better…
This recent issue may seem insurmountable, but I have found some very helpful methods of coping with this first-world problem, the most important being:
Remember the days when you were a kid and evening dinner time was sacred? My dad used to take the phone off the hook to keep anyone from disturbing our dinner. Looking back, I realize that I need to bring some of that slowed pace, sanctity and regard to my personal time, in order to be 100% ready for the very next day’s challenges.
This doesn’t mean that from 7pm until 7am the next morning, I refuse to check or answer an email, call to check on a family member or friend, or not look up silly YouTube videos or surf the net. Rather, it means that I adjust my priorities and set some limits.
I’ve found a number of tips on how to ‘unplug’ and hopefully overcome this new sleep challenge:
- Set a hard-stop in the evenings for email, both work and personal, cell phone and general online surfing. After that time, don’t look at your phone or check your email until the next morning. You can even set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” on the iPhone and “Silencify” on Android devices so that you aren’t disturbed throughout the evening with bells, beeps, and other annoying sounds.
- Use your commute to unwind. If you’re driving, listen to an audiobook, or create a playlist on your phone/iPod/etc with your favorite relaxing music. You’re in your car alone, so don’t be afraid to play your favorite Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel or Michael Bublé songs. If you take public transportation, keep a book, magazine or newspaper on you to do some light reading on your way home.
- If you have a TV in the bedroom, and it was made in the late 90s or later, you have this little thing called a “Sleep Timer” – use it!
- If you have a bathtub, buy some scented bath oils/salts/bubble bath (here are my faves), a bath caddy (this is a handy and sturdy one that fits a wine glass!) and bath pillow (like this no-slip pillow) – all essential for enjoying one night a week with a great book (even if it gets wet, it isn’t ruined forever, unlike a cell phone or tablet…), your favorite wine or cocktail (even the guys can enjoy a bath if gin & tonic are involved!) and soothing personal time.
even The Dude himself would agree with tip #4… photo: Universal Pictures
- Turn off most lights in your home after a certain hour and burn a few pleasant candles. The dark ambience and mood will help your body naturally relax for sleep.
Of course, all of the above tips are subject to change, circumstances, exceptions, emergencies, children/family members cooperating, etc. But you get the idea. By incorporating a few into my daily routine, I hope to find that deep sound sleep I once knew so well.
Here are a few other resources I’ve found to help unwind, unplug and overcome my sleep challenge!!
Do you have any tips for unwinding in the evening and regaining some sanity from the everyday technology chaos?
Well, I’ll be home soon to start my official Luddite-evening. Until tomorrow, mes amis!!
♥ – LBH