Tips on how to get a good night’s rest
Goodnight room, goodnight moon, goodnight cow jumping over the moon ...
... goodnight laptop, goodnight TV, goodnight face cream, goodnight phone ...
So it’s time for bed, you’ve brushed your teeth and snuggled up under the covers, and yet, your peepers are still wide open and showing no sign of shuteye—talk about a nightmare. Maybe you’ve got Monday’s meeting on your mind or you’re recovering from a Walking Dead marathon, but you’re not the only one: 30–40 percent of the population will have insomnia in a given year, and 10–15 percent will suffer from chronic insomnia (lasting more than a month). It’s enough to make anyone get up on the wrong side of the bed.
Dr. Christine Fukui, medical director at Niolopua Sleep Center at Manakai O Malama, says the best cures for insomnia are behavioral-based. Here are some of her tips to coax the Sandman to your bedroom so you can get back to that sweet dream (involving you, a bed, some wine and Norman Reedus).
Give yourself regular sleep and wake times. That means no more watching Bruno Mars videos on YouTube until 4 a.m. one day and passing out at 7 p.m. after too many happy-hour martinis the next. You want to train your body to sleep regularly, not confuse it. And cut out the daytime naps, as they make it more difficult to doze at night.
If you’re unable to sleep, get out of bed for 15 minutes so you don’t develop psychophysiologic or “learned” insomnia. You want to reserve your bed for sleep only so your body doesn’t think of it as a place for awake-time activities, like watching Netflix or reading Twilight (admit it). This explains why, with chronic insomnia, people can “learn” to not sleep in their beds, but can often fall asleep in another location, like a hotel.
Get Zen with your ZZZs
Try meditation or yoga. Unplug your stream of consciousness (OMG did that email send to the right contact? OMG was mom’s birthday yesterday? OMG should I have not eaten that leftover sushi from last week?), fill your head with positive thoughts and beliefs about sleep, and give your mind a much-needed time out.
Out Like a Light
Sleep in a comfortable environment: dark, quiet and cool. Minimize lights and stimuli that may seem benign but can be distracting when you’re trying to sleep, such as TVs, computers and especially cell phones. I mean, do you really need to know that someone liked your Instagram photo in the middle of the night?
Eat Like a Baby, Sleep Like a Baby
A full stomach can interfere with sleep, so try to reserve the food fests for earlier in the day. Similarly, late-night beverages can disrupt snoozetime because of—you guessed it—the urge to go. (And is there anything worse than this?)
The Good, the Bad and the Beauty Sleep
Not to get all Mom on you, but your vices are inhibiting your sleep, too. Nicotine promotes wakefulness and should be avoided, especially close to bedtime. And though alcohol can help you sleep (or pass out, whatever), the metabolism process actually disrupts sleep later on in the night. (Not to mention alcohol causes dehydration, which makes you wake up thirsty—see previous point—and with a headache.) Also, avoid caffeine after lunch, as it will make it more difficult to sleep later on.
Note: While Dr. Fukui says some insomnia is often attributed to worry, anxiety or bad habits, it can also be caused by medical conditions such as sleep apnea, depression or pain. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, consider participating in an overnight sleep study in order to get an accurate diagnosis.
Niolopua Sleep Center is located in the Honolulu Club building. They are open from 7 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday. 535-5555.