I believe that one of my very first posts was about my frustration with the fact that I could not fall asleep. Now, I have had many a bad night since then, but last night rings out as especially awful. Usually, during those dreaded nights, a huge issue is that I cannot stop stressing and/or thinking about things that are going on in my life at the moment. This happens to a lot of people I’m sure, however, there comes a point when you should be able to turn your brain off and say goodnight, especially, one would think, after gyming during the day and then yoga-ing at night; well, as it turns out, one would be wrong because that is exactly what I did…and for the life of me, I could not fall asleep. I actually ventured out of bed and onto my couch with the television turned on; I never do that…clearly, my mind was looking for a distraction.
In the June 2012 edition of Vogue, there was an article that brought to light a recent study on the dangers of sleeping pills and how, they only help you to fall asleep an approximate of twelve minutes faster than if you were to not take them and fall asleep naturally (this, of course, is not one of the so-called dangers, but those still need more testing, so I don’t want to delve into them at the moment). I laughed at this because; sometimes it can take me hours to fall asleep…although this generally occurs in either one of two situations: one, if I am sleeping at a place that is not my own (this has always been an issue for me since I can remember), or two, if I go to sleep before my body is ready to just pass out. The latter occurs frequently during the work week, when I have to force myself to go to bed due to the fact that I have to be up at a certain time. There was also an inset within the article, naming foods to avoid before going to bed (and foods that are a go: yogurt and light grains to name a few). Among the top three to be avoided were: foods that are high in sodium, foods that are high in sugar and foods that have a high acidity level. The sodium and the sugar affect your blood pressure, which makes your heart beat faster. I definitely have experienced lying down to go to sleep and feeling my heart pounding. Of course I then get nervous about it and start to worry, which makes the pounding worse. The foods with high acidity can cause indigestion, which can also keep you awake. There were a few other things on the list, but pretty much, it is better to not eat anything directly before going to bed. Also, the article discussed caffeine and its half-life, which is the amount of time for half of it to leave your body and, I have to tell you, I was surprised with that one. I didn’t have any idea that caffeine stayed with you for so long. For example, the article stated that the half-life of caffeine for a person in their early twenties is four hours: meaning it takes around eight hours for it to completely leave. And that is just for a person in their early twenties.
Now, I do agree that food and caffeine can play a part in keeping a person awake at night, and that most certainly has applied to me, but they are not my frontrunners. For me, the two main reasons that keep me from sleeping at night are: comfort level (familiarity with a place and its surroundings; i.e. if there are people, how well I know the people, etc) and stress (or rather, as I like to call it, over-thinking).
A bunch of factors come into play when dealing with comfort level. Now, before I go into that, let me just go on a limb and say that there are only two places where I feel completely comfortable and can get a good nights’ sleep: my own apartment and my second home in Huntington. Of course, that does not mean that I always have great nights’ sleep in these places; exhibit A: last night. When I spend a night anywhere besides at these two, chances are that I will spend a majority of the night tossing and turning while whoever else is with me will be content with slumber. Okay, now that I think about it, maybe there aren’t that many factors after all, but there are a few. Familiarity with a specific place: The more times and frequency of my spending a night at a place aides in my eventually sleeping better there. If I do not feel at all connected with/to a place, I will not be comfortable enough to fall asleep there. Familiarity with a person: Generally, if I am not sleeping at my place it is because I am visiting a friend, family member, or staying over with someone that I am dating. In regard to any of those, my being able to sleep depends on how comfortable I feel with that person, how close, how many times I’ve had sleepovers with that person, etc. There are definitely other factors that play into comfort, but those are my two big ones.
Now…as for stress playing a factor; I am always stressing about something. Whether it be minor or major, it doesn’t really matter. What I need to do is learn how to control my mind so that I can shut it off. So far…my mind wins every time.