Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday Night Insomnia

If you're having trouble going to sleep on Sunday night, and as you lay there staring at the ceiling you put one and one and one and one together and start remembering that you can't EVER seem to sleep on Sunday nights, well you certainly are not alone! 'Sunday Night Insomnia' has been around as long as the work week beginning on Monday, and it is one of the main reasons everyone comes dragging into the office looking like zombies on Monday morning zeroing in on the coffee pot.

The causes of sleeplessness on that dreaded Sabbath night (well, for those of the Christian Faith at least) are usually fairly simple. Not easily changed, due to the fact that we are humans and have a tendency not to listen or do what we should until we're threatened with death or pain, but I can spell them out for you here if you would care to read on!

First, I know you've all read that you can't 'make up' sleep on the weekends, but I doubt there's a single person out there who believes that nonsense. Scientists can show us charts until they are blue in the face, but I personally have it locked in my head that if I can cling to my pillow on Saturday morning until noon, all my 'beauty sleep' will be made up for the week, any ensuing laugh lines will be erased and all will be right again in the world! Same goes for Sundays! Plus, if you go to religious services, most don't start until late morning, so you get to sleep later even if you attend! If you don't (shhhh, I won't tell) and you happen to enjoy a party or two on the weekends with an adult beverage here and there, then you may overdo it a bit and feel the need to stay in bed a bit longer in the mornings. Sometimes it's just better to stay horizontal until the room stops spinning...

Young lovers know the benefits of lounging around in bed on weekend mornings, as do those of us lucky enough to have the kids grown and out of the house! (Sorry parents of those still at home, you either buy good locks and soundproof, or make deals with other parents for sleepovers for the kids to buy you some alone time!) And no one should ever miss out on a little 'Afternoon Delight' followed by a nap!

But you see where I'm heading with this, for all the fun you are having, your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) is getting knocked for a loop. Without a regular wake-up and sleep schedule, your body goes into a type of 'WTF' mode and takes the sleep where it can get it. We don't always manage to recuperate as well as we would like, even teenagers fall asleep in class, or crash out in people's floors. I've been witness to this more than once when my daughter's friends stayed over and got all ready for big nights out with friends, but because they stayed up all night giggling, their pretty painted doll faces and curls ended up crashing out on my living room floor in front of the television in a pile, only to wake up at Midnight in horror, crying out 'Why did you let us go to sleep?????' Because I'm the terrible mother, that's why...

But if you are wanting to correct this, you certainly can give it a shot. The first thing to do is to get your hiney up on Sunday mornings, no matter how painful it may be. Drink some juice (orange, strawberry, banana blended in the mixer is yummy, full of vitamins and is a great help for hangovers). Don't overload on caffeine, and for Heaven's sake don't drink those idiotic energy drinks! They are a gimmick, use about the same caffeine as a cup of coffee and you're better off taking a multiple vitamin and drinking some juice. Plus they taste like crap! Get some exercise during the day and be active. This means getting out and PLAYING a game, not sitting on your couch and watching one! You need to get your system going either with a good walk, or if nothing else, a good lay! Don't load up on big meals then crash out, eat well but take a walk after. You need to be TIRED to go to sleep, so the whole point is to get tired.

Now, if you are in the bed, lights off, no tv, and your sheep aren't doing their jobs, then it might be a good idea to look into some sleep aids. I do NOT recommend Ambien or Lunesta, people do some crazy stuff on that crap, it only works for a relatively small percentage of people (but it has a HUGE placebo effect-which means you just think it's working), and the side effects aren't worth it. Benedryl is the best bet, in my opinion, it's safe, been tested forever, it's nigh on impossible to be allergic to it (it's an allergy medication-an antihistamine, so to be allergic would be rather odd, although if you are on MAOI's you can't take it). Tylenol PM and other sleep aids use over-the-counter pain relievers combined with it, but it's cheaper to take the regular ibuprophen or whatever you prefer with Benedryl.

Please, don't get roped in by people pushing herbal remedies, saying they are 'all natural' and therefore more safe. Digitalis is a flower I can legally grow in my flower bed, but if I dry it I can put it in your food and give you a heart attack! Herb ARE medicine, and I don't care if they are grown in dirt or not, you can do a lot of damage to yourself if you don't know what you're doing or what you may be allergic to. Plus, herbal medications are not regulated in strength by the FDA, so one dose may barely make you sleepy, they next may knock you on your butt! Never take anything you don't know about, and just remember that these 'experts' at your local herb shop most likely are just reading Wikipedia.

Melatonin is a natural sleep aid some people swear by. To be honest, it didn't do a thing for me, I've heard some people say they had really bad reactions to it, so I don't recommend it.Valerian root is the basis for Valium, but remember that it shows up on a drug test, and you don't have a good way of knowing your dosage. You'd be better off staying away from that, too. Catnip tea works well, but it is a mild narcotic, and will also show up in a drug test. Chamomile tea is good for relaxation, it never put me to sleep, and I never cared much for the flavor, but my daughter likes it so we drink it sometimes. If you feel like you absolutely have to have a pill or medication to help you sleep, go talk to your doctor. Don't play around with herbal remedies, just talk to your doctor and get something safe. But stay away from Ambien, Lunesta, and any antipsychotics...for some reason doctors are prescribing them for sleep! IDIOTS!!!

Keep the bedroom dark and comfortable. No office equipment or televisions, get a sound machine if outside noises are a problem, and make sure your mattress and sheets are the best you can afford. I found that once I splurged on a great mattress and some high end sheets, sleep came a lot easier. It may just have been psychosomatic, but once I got in those Egyptian cotton sheets I could go into a coma! Through the years, I have collected many sets and my daughter asked for a pair to take to college with her! She swears she can't get a good nights sleep without them! If you'd like to find a nice set at a reasonable price, go to and watch for the clearance sales. Get a good threadcount, 600 or so, and you'll be thanking me! My fiance thought I was just spoiled when we first got together, until I got him a pair, now he won't sleep on anything else either!

Also, take a good hot shower or bath before bed so you're nice and clean and relaxed. You are going to be laying there for eight hours, you don't want to be laying there dirty! Go get nice and clean, smelling good, in clean pajamas or a nightie. Get something cute to wear to bed, whether it's shorty pajamas, a cute nightgown, pajamas with your favorite team on them or silk pants and matching robe. This doesn't have to cost a fortune, either, but you should feel good about yourself when you go to bed at night. Throw away those over-sized sweatpants, that t-shirt with the holes, those shorts that didn't look good on you even when you DID wear that size, and get you something that looks good, whether it's sexy, cute or funny, get something that if you walk by a window or have to go to the door you're not going to make the neighbors gag! The better you feel about you, the better you are going to rest. Plus, if you smell good and look nice, you might have your partner snuggling up for a little cuddle time to help you sleep a little sounder! If you sleep alone, you're going to feel more relaxed and comfortable, because just like during the day our self esteem goes up when we take care of ourselves!

So all you insomniacs there, Sunday or every night of the week, try the techniques I've talked about and let me know how it worked out for you! Otherwise, you can do like me, and sit up and do your work in the middle of the night, while everyone is quiet and asleep...then when they leave in the morning sneak in a nice nap!!! LOL

Love, peace, harmony and happiness to all of you!

Dr. Beth

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