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Strategies for a Good Night’s Sleep

When was the last time you had a good solid night’s sleep? Studies show that one out of five Americans sleeps less than six hours a night. I know many grandmas who would give their eye mask for a good night’s sleep!

We’ve had an ongoing discussion in our GaGa Sisterhood forum for the past two months on “Problems and Solutions for a Good Nights Sleep.” Menopause is one factor that wreaks havoc with sleep. Another is worries about our children and grandchildren.

Richard Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury News recently wrote about insomnia and strategies for defeating it. He admitted to being an insomniac for years. For his research he spoke with Dr. Allison Siebern, associate director of Stanford’s Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program.

Siebern said that 10-15% of Americans have chronic problems with getting to sleep or staying asleep. Beyond the chronic sufferers, research shows that 30-80% of Americans suffer from insomnia symptoms at one time or another. Knowing that you’re not alone, however, doesn’t bring much comfort when you’re lying there wide awake with your mind racing from one thought to another.

On a website developed by Dr. Rachel Manber, Director of Stanford’s Sleep Clinic, you can find a wealth of information about insomnia and its causes and treatments. One piece of advice stood out for me: shift your mindset from “trying hard to sleep” to “allowing sleep to happen.”

Here are some of Manber’s suggestions for facilitating sleep:

  • Use the hour before bedtime to unwind from the day’s stresses. This down time will allow sleepiness to come to the surface and will therefore facilitate sleep onset. This is a time to engage in activities that are enjoyable, yet calming.
  • Avoid clock watching. Turn the clock around so you cannot see the time, yet you can still use it as an alarm. A recent study showed that volunteers who were asked to monitor a digital clock at bedtime took longer to fall asleep than those monitoring a similarly looking device that displayed random digits.
  • Avoid exercise 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure that the sleep environment is safe, quiet, and pleasant.

In addition, the following are strategies offered from our GaGa Sisterhood members:

  • If I write down some of my concerns and worries in a journal before I go to sleep, it helps keep me from waking up.
  • I downloaded the “Relaxation for Sound Sleep” portion of Cultivating Sleep and when I really can’t sleep, I’ll listen to that with my earphones and I usually drift off to sleep.
  • I heat a big mug of milk in the microwave and sip it while reading until I feel drowsy.
  • I think about and feel my toes. I wiggle them, feel them and keep bringing my focus to my toes. That simple thing gets me “out of all the words in my head” and quiets me down.

If you have any tips that have helped you sleep, please share them in our comments.

1 thought on “Strategies for a Good Night’s Sleep”

  1. I have a problem with waking up and then thinking about problems and being unable to go back to sleep. I have solved this problem by listening to books on my iPod. If I have trouble going back to sleep, I listen to a book, and it takes my mind off whatever is happening in my own life. I’m usually able to go back to sleep immediately. I don’t advise choosing a book that’s too suspensful, however!

    Another thing I’ve learned about myself is that the darker it is, the better I sleep. I turn off all the lights.

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