Make your bedroom a comfortable place. Blankets, bed covers, and mattress should be cozy and inviting. Get extra pillows. Keep it clean and tidy and introduce pleasant smells such as a drop of lavender oil on the sheets and bring in pleasant sounds from nature or white noise.
Do not bring electronics to bed. Turn off the phone, IPad, computer, and even the TV. A modern problem that interferes with a good night’s sleep is binge watching videos and programs in bed. The act of just looking at a lighted screen has the effect of making a person more awake. If waking in the middle of the night, do not reach for a screen. Not having a TV in the bedroom is a good idea for a person struggling with insomnia. If one must watch TV or videos late at night, do so outside of the bedroom on a hard chair or floor with no cozy blankets. Remember, make the bed the most comfortable place in the world.
Watch what you eat or drink before bed. Do not drink products with caffeine after 4 pm. Avoid alcohol. That glass of wine or shot of vodka might appear to aid in falling asleep but can actually cause a person to be more awake and agitated after a couple of hours. It also can interfere with the quality of sleep, cause aspiration, and lead to nightmares. Do not eat a big or spicy meal late at night; but on the flip side, avoid going to bed hungry.
Get physical exercise during the day. A regular program of exercise, even a walk later in the day can help make your body more tired for sleeping and can also help process anxieties and stressors. Do not take daytime naps, no matter how tired during the day if nighttime insomnia is a problem. A nap can interfere with the normal sleep cycle.
Have a regular bedtime routine that trains your body to sleep. Have a soothing drink like herbal tea or milk. Take a warm bath, wash the face, and brush teeth. Go to bed at the same time each night and plan on waking the same time every morning. This helps regulate the body’s normal sleep wake cycle. Say bedtime prayers.
Sweet dreams! When in bed think of nice things that happened during the day and/or make a mental note of what there is to be grateful. Avoid if possible, discussing stressful topics and having arguments with others right before bedtime. Save difficult discussions for daytime only. Resist the urge to toss, turn, and thrash about the bed if possible unless in physical pain. Moving only serves to make a person more awake.
Win-Win! A Catholic version of counting sheep for insomnia is to pray the rosary. The result is a win-win situation: Either one gets some good z’s before the first decade or many long prayers for intentions get completed. Some find listening to a soft recording of the rosary can help as well. A prayer to one’s Guardian Angel can aid in putting one’s mind at ease and help one to feel safe.
Patron Saints of Sleep? St. Joseph is a great saint for those who are plagued with dreams (good and bad). Also St. Dymphna is the patron of mental health.