Trouble Falling Asleep

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: I’m having trouble falling asleep at night. Music and meditation are not working anymore. I’m having a lot of problems relaxing at night. Hot showers don’t work anymore. What do you suggest?

Answer: I empathize with people who have a difficult time sleeping because throughout much of my adult life I have struggled with insomnia. One of the things I always encourage clients to do is to make certain there are no underlying medical causes. So, often a thorough physical exam is in order before trying to sort out the causes of the sleep disorder, and then come up with a treatment plan.

Since I do not know you, I will encourage you to do a self-evaluation. Identify stressors that may be following you to the bedroom. Nowadays, when I am unable to sleep, it is a good indicator that I have taken on more work than I can handle. So, I make it a goal to complete nagging projects that I know need to be done.

Also, if you are using electronic devices, such as computers, movies, television up until you are ready to fall asleep, those devices tend to stimulate the mind and make it difficult to fall asleep. I definitely urge you to turn in your cell phone in the evening. At a minimum turn off the ringer, unless you are on call for your job. All of these things tend to impact sleep.

Don’t become anxious when you cannot fall asleep. Instead, read something that you enjoy, but nothing that is frightening. When you get tired, put the book down and go to sleep. Don’t try to finish the chapter, or even the page. Remember, the goal is to fall asleep. You can pick where your left off the next day. If the book is a good novel or a biography, you may find the characters incorporated into your dreams. I hope this helps.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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