Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I’ve battled insomnia for most of my life. I fall asleep easily, but I wake up in middle of the night for hours, or I wake up too early in the morning, but too late to go back to sleep.

Lest you think that I now have more hours to get things done, this insomnia doesn’t make me more productive – I don’t get anything done in the middle of the night, I just lay there stressed about how tired I will be in the morning.

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Finally, after years of battling this condition, I decided to do something about it, and baruch Hashem, I have seen some success.

 

  1. The number one thing I was doing wrong was spending too much time in bed, either by reading in bed, using my laptop, or going in early in the hopes of getting a good night sleep. Hard to believe that this is a mistake, but it is.

Despite the fact that I have made my bedroom a calm sanctuary, and have painted my walls beautifully, polished my hardwood floor, and added lively plants and lovely blinds, I need to be careful about how much time I spend in it. You want to teach your body that when you are in your room, it is time to go to sleep, so you cannot be in your room if you are not sleeping. Also, spending extra time in your room doing other things keeps your body from identifying your bed with sleep.

Instead, try this exercise for a few weeks and see how if it helps. Begin by taking a look at how many hours you are actually sleeping, and what time you would like to wake up. If you are only sleeping five hours, and need to wake up at 7 a.m., don’t go to bed before 2 a.m., regardless of how tired you are. Then, for one week, if you are sleeping straight for 5-6 hours, begin by going to bed 15 minutes earlier, and see if the length of your sleeping period increases. Although this is a magic trick, it is not easy, and you will probably feel sleep deprived, however, it is far better to sleep five hours in a row, than to sleep four hours, and spend three hours tossing and turning until you finally fall asleep only to be rudely awoken by your alarm. This also might mean that you have to force yourself to stay awake, especially if you are used to going to sleep much earlier. I recommend keeping bright lights on, stay in the living room, and shower much later at night.

 

  1. Another thing you want to do is limit liquids before bed. It makes it harder to fall asleep and the getting up in middle of the night does not help you develop good sleep habits. To avoid being thirsty at night, don’t eat late.

 

  1. Although wine is a natural sleep aid and helps you fall asleep, it interferes with your hormones and causes you to wake up too early. Don’t drink more than one serving at meal time, and make sure it’s at least two-three hours before bed.

 

  1. Exercise every day if possible, as it helps your body relax. Do some yoga or stretching to relax the body before bed.

 

  1. Go outside in the morning to set your circadian cycle correctly.

 

I’ve been doing these thins for the past few weeks and have been able to get off my sleep aids, which by the way, just made me groggier in the morning. Now that I am going to bed later and getting some solid hours of sleep, my days have been so much better.

Have some good snoozes!

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Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at amazon.com. Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at pninabaim@gmail.com.