Wind-down Routine

Do you have a nightly wind-down routine?

How do you shut down an overly stimulated mind? Do you pour a glass of wine, make a cup of herbal tea, settle on the couch and watch some TV? Do you read a book, take a bubble bath, or go for a nice long walk?

I’ve become bored with television, and at the moment I do not have a favorite show. It used to be I’d kick back in my chair and watch several shows. I like comedy, but there isn’t anything that appeals to me in the current line-up. Nothing is making me laugh.

I never suffered with insomnia until recent months. Now it plays havoc with my mind. Sunrise Above Mount FujiIf I can’t sleep I know I’ll ruin the next day’s creativity. No writing will be accomplished. I figured it was the wine causing my problem. So I stopped drinking. For a week or so I slept well, and then the insomnia returned. I wondered if I had been exercising too late in the day and moved all exercise to the morning hours. I had earworms…you know, those tunes that get stuck in your brain and go on constant rewind. If I could have found where Keith Urban was hanging out I might have hit him over the head with his darn guitar. I’d fall asleep and wake up with one of his tunes playing, over, and over, and over again. Then some nights I’d dream entire stories and wake to figure out if I could turn that story into a book. I’d go back to sleep and dream the entire thing again.

Speaking of books, I know I read in excess. Some nights I’ll turn off the telly at eight, check my emails and maybe facebook, and sip a small cup of Sleepytime tea. It contains floral Egyptian chamomile, cool spearmint from the Pacific Northwest, and lively Guatemalan lemongrass. Then I have to get up to the bathroom at about 2 a.m. I blame that on the lively lemongrass. Just the word lively seems all wrong for evening. Unless of course, you have Mr. Lively-Yummy-Pants beckoning you. Uh, back to tea.

100_1514Sleepytime tea cannot be banished. I love it and always use one of my four Harrods mugs that I bought in England. They’re small and slim, unlike my coffee mugs. But maybe I should only fill the mug half-way.

There have been nights, especially in these darker winter months where I’ve crawled into bed a little before nine, with my trusty Kindle, and read for several hours. Last week there was an article about how that isn’t good for you, that it’s too stimulating. I tried reading print books for a few nights. I slept better. Coincidence? Maybe. I’m eagerly awaiting my package from RWA National…five or six RITA books for judging. That should be a good experiment, as I won’t have time to read anything on Kindle for a couple of weeks. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome…I know how important it is for you to have this information. Ha ha.

Anyway, what do you do?  Do you have a sleep routine, or are you one of those lucky people who fall asleep as soon as the head hits the pillow? Talk to me.

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18 Responses to Wind-down Routine

  1. Janie Emaus says:

    I move away from my computer and on to the couch. I read and watch TV. And invariably fall sleep ten minutes before the end of whatever I’m watching. Good luck!

    • robena grant says:

      Yes. That article I read said no computer, no eReaders for a few hours before bed. I’ve cut way back but always have to take one last peek. Must. Stop. That.

  2. I feel your pain, Robena! Once our little guy came along, normal sleep went out the window, and even after HIS sleep patterns settled into something standard, mine wouldn’t! I tried a lot of different things…wine, tea, melatonin, sleep diary, exercise earlier, exercise later, eat, don’t eat. Now I take Ambien. Problem solved! I think. I can’t really remember anything. :}

    • robena grant says:

      I’ve been trying to avoid taking any medication, Sam. I’m super-sensitive to most drugs. If I take anything at all it’s always like a pediatric dose. I think my insomnia came on because of a bad head cold in December. I got out of my routine, slept odd hours, and now can’t seem to find my way back. Help! I’m lost in the woods! 🙂

  3. Gina B. says:

    Robena, I know exactly how you feel…some nights I sleep okay, but many others I’m up for hours, achy and stressed, wondering how I’ll get by the next day on so little sleep. I try to avoid drinking too much caffeine during the day and usually try to watch part of a movie for a few minutes before I go to bed – something familiar. Sometimes it helps! Hope you start sleeping better soon 🙂

  4. robena grant says:

    Sorry you’ve been suffering too, Gina, and I’m with you on the caffeine. I have none after 10am. I like that comment about a familiar movie. Interesting. Last night I read a chapter of Cotillion, by Georgette Heyer. It’s one of my favorite books. I slept well…for me. ; )

  5. cindy says:

    Robena, I have researched this and you are doing lots of things right, but really sorry no caffeine at all is something that might work for you. I say this because you are sensitive to drugs and caffeine is a drug. I had to go off caffeine once and it’s tough. But I have read that when all else fails, ban the caffeine. I know how hard that is to do!

    • robena grant says:

      Yes. That would be extremely difficult, Cyndi. I think, because this problem is new to me, my insomnia came about from a bad head cold that messed with my fairly structured routine. I’m trying that thing of going to bed twenty minutes later and getting up ten minutes earlier, and working on building that back to where I’m waking normally at 7am. I hope it will work.

  6. Hi Robena, I also struggle with insomnia. Nothing seems to help…some nights are better than other. I may have to consider Cindy’s advice and go cold turkey on coffee. Right now, I have two to three cups in the morning but no caffeine after 12 noon. Joanne 🙂

    • robena grant says:

      I know, Joanne. But my system went into shock at the very thought. Ha ha. My mother cut back to one cup of tea and one cup of coffee in the morning. I’m still a two cup coffee drinker. We shall see if tapering affects anything. But cold turkey? Shiver.

  7. S.Llewellyn says:

    Hi Robena,
    I hope you are feeling better.
    I have had insomnia all my life. It is such life-sucking predicament. I have tried so many things, drugs and otherwise. One thing that works really well, is Jeffrey D. Thompson’s sleep systems. There are different cds with music as well as stabilizing your brainwaves to relaxation, calm and sleep. My favorite one is called Sleepy Ocean. I am very picky about ocean sound, that is the best one I can find. It also has delta waves that helps you relax.
    ut there are other options if you don’t like nature sounds.

    Another option was given to me when I was going through a very difficult emotional times and I was a mess. Of course, sleep was the worst at the time. I was afraid my doctor was going to give me heavy-duty stuff that I really did not want. He suggested Benadryl. I really did not think it was going to work for me. It seemed so simple. But, it works. (Don’t take the non-drowsy kind, obviously)
    But just knowing that I can use this if I need to, takes the pressure off and allows me to sleep anyway. But taking it gives me very good night’s sleep.
    Give yourself 8 hours to sleep, after taking it.
    Well, these are my methods coming from my on going battle with insomnia.
    (Caffeine is not a good idea. At least try decaf.)
    Much love to you.

    • robena grant says:

      Hi Scarlet:
      This is awesome information! Thank you! I will check this out for sure. And thank you for the reminder on the Benadryl. A Doctor I knew years back had mentioned it for sleep, and it is effective. I used the lowest dose possible and had no after effects like grogginess. Going to buy some today. 🙂

  8. I’ve read that about the kindle, too. It makes me sad as I like nothing better than reading a book on my kindle before bed.

    • robena grant says:

      I know, me too, Judy. I’m wondering how true it is. The media seem to focus on these things and run wild. Remember the one about cell phones causing brain cancer? It was in the news everywhere for a while, and then it disappeared.

  9. Leigh Court says:

    Roben –
    I use a trick my yoga teacher recommends to calm the brain: concentrate on your breathing. Silently say the words “breathing in” while breathing in and “breathing out” while breathing out. Giving your mind something to say (while breathing) will keep it off other things!


    • robena grant says:

      Oh, that’s a good one, Leigh. I’m fairly new to meditation, but do find it’s helpful to center me in the mornings when I know I have a busy day/week ahead. I’d never thought about using those techniques to sleep. I think I’ll give it a go. 😉

  10. Kim M says:

    I know you would prefer to avoid medication, but if you are interested in an herbal remedy, you might try valerian. You can get capsules at organic grocery stores. I will warn you that it is a stinky herb; when you first open the bottle it can really turn you off. One of my friends is sensitive to medications, and she used to use it to help her fall asleep. If you are currently taking any other regular medications, check to make sure there are no interaction issues, of course.

  11. robena grant says:

    Hey, Kim M. Thanks for stopping in. I tried Valerian, and Melatonin, a long time ago, which makes me remember that I must have had a bad case of insomnia somewhere in my past. Ha ha. Anyway, I don’t think they helped me much, although I have friends who swear by both. If nothing else works I can give it a try.