JONELLA'S PERSONAL TRIED & TRUE REMEDIES
If I can't sleep - or can't get back to sleep in the middle of the night - or early in the morning - for whatever reason - and I've tossed and turned and watched tv and tried all the simple things I can think of - and I've GOT to get my sleep, I've got important things to do in the morning, so I'm anxious about not falling asleep - here is what I take to help:
THE "TRIED & TRUE TRIPLE"
1. I take a combination valerian/passion flower concentrated herbal capsule (you can get these at various health food stores and pharmacies.) If you can't get the combo pill, take just a valerian. I find them quite effective - and very gentle.
2. I might also take one over-the-counter sleep remedy pill (antihistamine - diphenhydramine - 25 mg) - (I use a generic brand - costs like $1.50 for 24 pills at certain Dollars Stores.)
3. Then I make a banana shake. Yes - in the middle of the night or at 5 in the morning my New York City neighbors can hear my blender churning away as I froth up a small banana, some milk (I use 2%) and maybe a peach (peeled and pitted, of course) or a couple of strawberries - or maybe some fruit yogurt. I find this delicious concoction practically a "magic potion" - because it tastes good, feels good in the tummy and it really works. And, in addition, it's got lots of vitamins and nutrients - and, on top of that, is not too fattening.
The TRIED & TRUE TRIPLE usually does the trick. The hard part sometimes is deciding whether to go to the TRIPLE if I have to get up early the next morning - because I hate falling into a deep slumber only to be crash-awakened by the alarm. Or should I just wait it out and maybe I'll drop (back) to sleep? - 'cause sometimes that happens, too.
I also regularly take a bunch of vitamins and calcium with breakfast and another calcium tablet before bed every night.
On most nights I go through the "Threesies" ritual - i.e., I think of three blessings I received that day; (Of course, I've usually received many, many more than three and sometimes I fall asleep while still listing them.) Then I review three things I accomplished that day. That helps to make me feel good. And then I think of three things I plan to accomplish the next day. As I say, I'm often asleep before I finish this ritual.
If I'm upset or anxious I go to the computer and write down what's going on with me - what's on my mind - what's happening with my life. I find it really helps to get this stuff OUT of my system. And in doing that, I gain a better perspective of the situation - which helps to calm me down and allow me to relax. And I make a plan to help resolve whatever issue is upsetting me. That truly helps, also. (I've been a major Journal-keeper at various times in my life. Definitely helped me get my act together.)
Sometimes I do work for a while, after which I can get back into bed feeling better because I accomplished something. Or I watch tv (I love old movies) - or read a book. And sometimes I just lie there and eventually drift back to sleep.
MY HISTORY WITH INSOMNIA
I've had trouble with insomnia since I came to New York City as a "young lady" - back in the '60's - to go to design school - the fall that President Kennedy was assassinated. (Yes - I do remember where I was when the news hit - in Macy's buying a winter coat (for $32, I think). I still have the coat (which I wore for about ten years) - put away in storage, marked with this 'historic' bit of information.)
I now realize that I had trouble sleeping then because I was thrown by the experience of coming to a great big, sophisticated, fast-moving city where I knew only one single human being besides myself. And, for the first time in my life, I didn't make friends right away in school. So I felt dreadfully lonely - a new feeling for me that was certainly upsetting. In addition, I had very little money to live on, which made me feel very constrained. As the school I went to didn't have a dormitory at that time, I had to find a place to live. Most of the places I found were dingy and depressing - and some came with difficult roomates. Eventually, though, I did make friends and I did find an apartment - in the West Village - where I still live today. I also entered therapy, which was supportive and comforting for me. So my life got stabilized - and that made a huge difference. And my sleep problems disappeared - for several years. When I eventually underwent psycholanalysis, I came to understand the forces operating on me that were upsetting and unsettling to me. And over the years I was able to resolve most of those - to a reasonable extent. (It's an on-going process, of course...)
But then I went into the film industry and worked freelance - which is a great way to NOT have stability! And then I got a notion to become a filmmaker - and even though I loved that work greatly - and won many awards and honors - it was just about impossible to raise money for film projects. Therefore it was actually a most de-stabilizing and totally non-restful experience!
I still have plenty of sleepless nights - because life can be tough - and there can be many upsets - and upsetting people and events. And the process of aging adds complications, too.
I have learned that the following elements are most important - fundamental, really - at least for me - for getting good sleep:
1. Having stability in my life - a sense that things are "ok" with me - good things are happening or about to happen or are set up for happening eventually; there's enough money in the bank - or on the way - and there are friends who are compatible and responsive around and about in my life.
2. My personal issues are reasonably resolved and a sense of inner well-being and strength prevails. I didn't have this when I was young but I believe I've got more of it as I've matured - and it helps, for sure. (I don't believe you can fake this, by the way. While it might help temporarily to tell yourself that things are "great" I am a big believer in working things out so that you resolve the troublesome problems. And that means with a good therapist.)
3. Plenty of exercise. I can be pretty sure, on a day when I don't get adequate exercise, that I'm going to have trouble falling asleep - or falling back asleep.
4. Good social interaction. I find I sleep best on nights when I've had a great time with friends - either a good, meaty conversation or a lovely evening out.
5. A sense that I accomplished important things that day - or took steps to get important things accomplished.
6. I have become significantly more religious over the years and now attend synagogue regularly, study Torah and Talmud and am more observant than I used to be - and I find this to be stabilizing, calming and extremely enjoyable, comforting and a pleasureable part of my life. Getting more involved with my own religion helps me to understand other people's committment to their religions - and is one reason why I'm very gung-ho on religion in general. I think it helps people in many, many ways - as I have found through my own personal experience.
7. Having someone to love - something warm to hold or touch - something loveable and sweet in my life. For me this usually means a cat. I L-O-V-E cats! I love having them in my life - in my apartment - woven into the fabric of my life. They are so gorgeous to look at - so graceful - and soft to touch - and funny! - and altogether dear. They give me tremendous comfort. As I say, I adore cats. And I recommend them to anyone so disposed. And having such a dear, warm, lovely creature about definitely helps me to sleep.
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