Our friend and neighbor Allison Tray knows a lot about health — she runs a petite medi-spa called Tres Belle in Brooklyn, so she’s always looking into treatments that are good for her clients’ skin, and at home, she’s all about super foods and watching her diet for chemicals and additives.
Still, she had a lot of room for improvement in the bedroom. That is, she wasn’t sleeping well.
Allison shared her experience in an blog post that first appeared on Charlotte’s Book; she gave me permission to share an abbreviated version here. You can read the full version on Charlotte’s Book or on Yahoo Beauty:
I’m a reformed bad sleeper. I have been plagued with sleeping problems throughout most of my adult life.
The impact it’s had on my psyche and skin have at times been intense. I developed eczema which, during flare-ups, causes my scalp to burn and itch intensely. I have had days (after two or three nights of sleeplessness) that I have not been able to work. Answering an email could take an entire day because I was just dazed and unable to complete a sentence.
Known as the bright-eyed, energetic funny girl, it was obvious to my friends and employers when I was going through a bout of insomnia. I would show up to work looking like I had partied all night. Swollen eyed and sullen, trying desperately to stay awake during a midday crash but then awake again that same night.
After years of tossing and turning, book after book on sleeping, sleep med after sleep med, my doctor suggested — insisted, really — that I go to a sleep clinic. You’ve seen the ones where you are hooked up to all kinds of wires and people watch you “not” sleep. Something about this scared me to death. I was not going to go.
So I did something really radical: I decided that I did not have a sleeping problem. After many months of intense therapy after a breakup, I had been using my mind and the power of my thoughts to heal my heart. I was using that power to be happy again and I used it to convince myself that as a living creature, I required sleep and it was going to happen.
Here are four things I did to get myself to sleep:
1. Give yourself an attitude adjustment
Don’t even walk into your bedroom if you’ve already convinced yourself that you’re not going to sleep. Create a mantra for yourself like “I will sleep tonight because I deserve a wonderful night of rest.”
2. Love your bedroom
Create a space that you love to look at. If you’ve been meaning to change the paint or furniture, do it. Do something. Paint, change your curtains, or get a new blanket. Limit your tchotchkes and put your clothes away. Clutter creates noise and stimulation.
3. Stop with the chit-chat
Don’t keep your phone next to your bed at night. Anything you need to know can wait until you wake up. Ask your partner or roommate to not engage you in serious conversations at night. Quiet the mind by being quiet.
4. Step away from the fridge
Make an eating cut-off time and stick to it. Late-night noshing can cause acid reflux. Try sipping on some Sleepytime or chamomile tea instead. Remind yourself that you’ll regret that snack when you’re still up at 3 a.m.
Everybody falls off the wagon sometimes and when I find myself having trouble even after following all my rules, I listen to podcast “Sleep With Me.”
I’m not a doctor and this post is not intended as medical advice or to suggest what Allison did will work for everyone. I am running a series of posts showcasing what friends have done to improve their health and the overall theme is that each of them listened to their own body to do what worked for them.
That much I absolutely do recommend: Pay attention to how you feel, physically and emotionally, and to what seems to make your issues better or worse. In fact, here’s a post from 2009 about learning to fend off migraines by watching for my triggers.
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