COLUMN: Slumberous solutions for the chronically sleep deprived

As we’re getting into late February here, chances are News Year’s resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside.

This year, there was basically only one item on my list of goals: to get better sleep. Sure, this may not seem highly ambitious, but if you’re not getting adequate sleep, nothing else really matters.

I figured prioritizing a good night’s sleep was a good place to start, at least.

One website estimates that we spend an average of 26 years of our life sleeping and seven years trying to get to sleep (Dreams.co.uk). That’s about one-third of our lives.

That’s a lot of time and it’s easy to feel like it’s wasted, especially when tasks are piling up and there’s so much to think about or just something you’d rather be spending your time on. The necessity of sleep can feel like an inconvenience — an obstacle in your path preventing you from being the master of your own schedule.

While science may not fully understand all the reasons why deep, REM sleep is so important to one’s health and well-being, it is a well-established fact.

We live in a society of the chronically burned out and fatigued. This is perhaps illustrated by the fact a website, brewsmartly.com, even compiled a list of the most popular coffee-related baby names.

Apparently we’ve reached the point of caffeine obsession as a global society that not only are coffee-related names a thing, they can be ranked by popularity. (By the way, the top baby boy name is Santos, which is also the name of an Arabica coffee bean, and the top girl name is Hazel, i.e. the coffee flavouring, hazelnut.)

Sleep deprivation can also lead to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immunodeficiency, hormonal abnormalities and mental health issues.

Sleep can be frustratingly elusive, even if you’ve tried “all the things.”

If you’re at the point where you would lovingly smother your spouse in their insensitive, slumberous sleep simply for the crime of sonorously snoring while you want to scream, here are some non-homicidal ideas that may be helpful for you:

– A weighted blanket that is 10 per cent of your body weight;

– calming essential oils such as lavender or chamomile;

– different supplements that may support sleep such as magnesium or melatonin for short periods of time, as directed;

– white noise machines or gentle, predictable sleep music;

– a light-cancelling blindfold;

– breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.

So if you’ve tried all the above, and still can’t fall asleep or sleep well, what do you do?

While the above suggestions may be helpful to many, they can’t replace the advice or treatment from a qualified medial professional. You may need to rule out any medical issues.

If you have ruled out medical issues you may then need to consider you may just be stressed.

Interestingly enough, all stress, whether it’s stress we consider positive or negative, is processed in the same centre in our brain. This means even if you feel well and at the top of your game, periods of high performance or excitement can still leave you having difficulty relaxing and falling asleep. (BrainFacts.org)

Stress can become a vicious cycle, as well. You’re stressed that you aren’t sleeping, therefore you can’t fall asleep.

If you believe your troubles are stemming from stress, focus on things that help you relax and decompress before bedtime, or something you find comforting.

So fellow pillow lovers, insomniacs and sleep deprived zombie impersonators, take comfort; there is hope. Wrap yourself in that oversized blanket-hoodie, ease your mind and let the sweet z’s come.