I’m having trouble sleeping, what can I do?

Hey Auntie, I’m 17 years old and I live a very active lifestyle. Sometimes I wake up at the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. I sometimes stay up all night. What can I do to get some rest?

Great question!

So there are basically three types of sleeping problems, which can be referred to as insomnia.

  1. Trouble falling asleep
  2. Trouble staying asleep through the night
  3. Waking up too early

It sounds like you may be experiencing sleeplessness only occasionally and not on a regular basis. It might be a good idea to keep a sleep journal to help keep track of when your sleepless cycles occur. This might shed light on why you have trouble staying asleep. For instance, maybe it happens around exam time, sporting events, when you don’t exercise as much as you normally do, or when you stay up late playing video games or are on a devise. You’re the expert on how you’re feeling, so it’s a good idea to really tune into this.

Set up your bedtime sanctuary

  • Use your bed only for sleeping.
  • Try to avoid studying, using electronics like your computer or watching TV right before bed.
  • Establish your bed as a cool and comfortable space. Avoid lots of light and noise.
  • Exercising regularly is good for getting quality sleep, however, try not to exercise too close to bedtime or you might have difficulty winding down.
  • Establish a relaxing routine for getting ready for bed (a bath, shower, listening to calm music).
  • Be consistent; try to go to bed and wake up at the same time in the morning during the weekdays and on the weekend.

Here are some tips for getting back to sleep at night

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening close to bedtime.
  • Make sure your sleep environment is quiet and dark throughout the night.
  • Practice a simple breathing exercise.
  • If you are unable to fall back asleep for 20 minutes do not lay in bed and worry about not sleeping, get up and go to a space in the house to do a relaxing activity, like reading, with dim light.

Get some rest!

  • Take short 20-minute power naps early in the day if you feel tired.
  • Stay on top of schoolwork so you don’t have to stay up late at night to finish.

You can learn more about insomnia by visiting the National Sleep Foundation’s website.

Lastly, if your sleeplessness is starting to interfere with your life, you may want to schedule an appointment with your health care provider. Check with your tribal clinic, or local hospital/clinic for help.

Hope this help and you can get some rest.

Take care,
Auntie Manda

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