Please Explain: Insomnia

Friday, November 09, 2007

Can’t sleep? Find out why on today’s Please Explain…and whether there’s anything you can do about it, from drinking warm milk to popping sleeping pills. Dr. Ana Krieger is the Director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Center. Dr. Carl Bazil is Director of Neurological Division at the Columbia University Comprehensive Sleep Center.

Weigh in: We want to hear about your cures for sleeplessness. What works for you when you can't sleep?


Dr. Carl Bazil and Dr. Ana Krieger

Comments [28]

hrh from tehran-iran

PLEASE for LISTENERS sakes let the honorable guests SPEAK their thoughts without interruptions so that their cycle of thoughts spoken can have an end. Please listen to the program & you'll understand what my point is. My intention is for the betterment of your wonderful program.

Nov. 09 2007 06:57 PM
gabby from new york

I have such vivid dreams that when I wake up in the morning, I'm exhausted as if I've just survived a long stressful day. What should I do?

Nov. 09 2007 01:34 PM
Michelle from Hackensack

I wake my husband every night with my sleep talking. I wish I knew how to stop so he could get a better night's sleep!

Nov. 09 2007 01:31 PM
TF from nyc

Circadian sleep disorder – think that’s why I have, as well as some other listeners who wake up in middle of night. Key is to make it work for us: figure on being up for say an hour or so and get up and read, or if too tired to read, then we can lie in bed an do some of best planning and problem-solving (as we do when we dream).

Nov. 09 2007 01:25 PM
retsu-wnyc from brooklyn

A good gentle thorough stretch.

Since my days of competitive Ultimate frisbee, I've found that when I can't sleep at night, getting out of bed and stretching helps.

It provides a 15-20 minute change of scenery, and maybe incorporates some meditation (as I hold each stretch, I steadily count to 60).

Nov. 09 2007 12:38 PM
rose from Brooklyn

Chamomile Tea and a book

Nov. 09 2007 12:14 PM
LB from Manhattan

When I'm having trouble falling asleep I imagine a calm, quiet, and relaxing place I'd like to be. Then I try to describe all the details I can think of about that place. If I start thinking of something else, I start all over again.

Nov. 09 2007 11:40 AM
Ardee from nyc

Leonard's voice puts me to sleep...

Nov. 09 2007 10:05 AM
Jack from Annandale

I got this book 'say goodnight to insomnia.' It seemed to be written fro someone with an IQ of 87, but it worked. I didn't even have to do half the program it laid out (sleep restriction, sleep diary) - just getting it in my head that insomnia is usually just behavioral and can be changed with positive thinking and relaxation techniques was enough! If someone had told me to 'think positive' and 'relax my body parts one by one' when I was in the thick of my insomnia, I would have socked them. But the book really drilled it home, and now I sleep wonderfully every night!

Nov. 09 2007 09:09 AM
Rob from NYC

I wholeheartedly recommend a book from my cultural anthropology reading list, "The Human Direction." I couldn't slog through 15 pages of the thing the whole semester, so sleep-inducing was it. An excellent book!

Nov. 09 2007 02:56 AM
Rob from NYC

I read war stories. I love them but they reliably put me to sleep.

Nov. 09 2007 02:51 AM
ginger baker from downtown

Get the temperature of the room low either by opening the windows if it happens to be in the winter, or maybe turning on the air-conditioner. It works most of the time. Its like hibernating!

Nov. 09 2007 12:52 AM
Anne Falivena from Long Island, NY

I experience a more middle-of-the night insomnia. I wake about four hours after having fallen asleep (often, like a rock!) and then have a great deal of trouble falling back to sleep at 2:00, 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. Once asleep (at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.) it's really difficult to wake again.
1. Stay up as late as possible (at least until 11:00). 2. Drink as little as possible in the evening. 3. Once awake in the middle of the night, just go with the (mental) flow. Try not to think of morning activities or anything worrisome.
4. If you can remember a dream you've been dreaming, continue channeling that dream. Of course, this only works if it's not an upsetting dream!
5. If that fails, think of pleasant things - maybe a puppy or kitten. This only works if you like puppies or kittens and are not allergic to either.
6. Think of something you love doing, find pleasurable, etc. This often works to block out unpleasant thoughts and rantings. Keep it simple.
7. Never drink caffeine or take stimulants after an hour that they prove to bother you (finding out what these stimulants are could be trial and error for the individual, I suppose - personally, I can't consume much chocolate too late in the evening).

Nov. 08 2007 09:59 PM
Susan Rudnick LCSW,Robin Kappy LCSW from NYC

In our work as sleep coaches we have learned that the body already knows how to fall asleep. Learning how to rest more deeply is the key to reclaiming that capacity. Rather than offering prescriptive formulas we teach people to create their own pathways to slow down and quiet body and mind. Visualization is one powerful tool that can lead from active thinking to dream states.

Nov. 08 2007 03:50 PM
Alex from EV, NYC

1. Love making.

2. A very tiny joint never fails, sweetest dreams guaranteed and in my mind much it is less harmful than any pill on the market.

Nov. 08 2007 02:09 PM
Gerry Lesk from Manhattan

For insomnia, I have the following responses depending on the severity of the problem:

1 If I'm restless and feel like I'm going crazy, I get out of bed, go out to the living room, take out the book I'm reading and read.
This focuses my mind, calms me down and makes
me sleepy. Then I go back to bed and go right
to sleep.

2 If I'm not too restless, I go back to a discipline I picked up as a college student: Zazen. In my college days, I would sit in the lotus position, count my breaths and wait for enlightenment. Now, on a sleepless night in my middle age, I lie in bed, count my breaths and wait for sleep.

I put everything else out of my mind and listen to my breaths, counting each exhalation (my inhalations are less audible). When I get to 10, I start over again. When my mind wanders, I refocus my attention on the counting. After two or three "10"'s, I'm out.

Nov. 08 2007 01:27 PM
Lesley from New Jersey

1) a bubble bath

2) saying the rosary

Nov. 08 2007 01:04 PM
Jeff from Denver, CO

I make sure to get a fair amount of exercise everyday. I also take Melatonin when I feel like I will have a sleep problem. Melatonin is an over-the-counter miracle sleep aid that you can find at Whole Foods or vitamin shops.

Nov. 08 2007 01:03 PM
elle from NJ

I have found success if I treat myself like a baby (!) - get a drink of water and roll over to my other side. It works!

Nov. 08 2007 10:17 AM
Meredith from ny

Would you comment on whether light boxes do actually help with the delayed sleep syndrome problem, why aren't these boxes sold in stores, and are they reliable and which brands are ok? I am up most of the night and get up in afternoon. My goal is to go to sleep earlier so can have normal waking hours with rest of the world. Very hard to do this and maintain it. I've read a lot and tried a lot, but not yet the light box. Thanks!

Nov. 08 2007 02:25 AM
tfw from CT

My husband does this thing where he gets up and submerges his bare arms in cold water (in the bathroom sink) to just above the elbows for a few minutes. He says it always works.

Nov. 07 2007 09:13 PM
Ben from Queens

A problem that I have had off and on for years was my inability to have a solid ~ 6-7 hrs of uninterrupted sleep.
Recently, I started to take 1-2 3 mg tablets of melatonin, and I've found it to really help.
If I forget to take this for more than two days, the problem recurs, so I am pretty confident that this is effective.

Nov. 07 2007 05:30 PM
lilia from manhattan

I also count backwards from 100, first in English, then in Spanish, then in French. Usually I don't have to try German.

Nov. 07 2007 04:48 PM
Gary from Manhattan

Ambien rocks (regular, not controlled release). One pill--which you can break easily in half for a two-hour power nap--will make you sleep like the dead with no next day grogginess like over-the-counter sleeping pills.

Nov. 07 2007 02:32 PM
Eileen from UWS

I usually fall asleep right away, but often wake up in the middle of the night. Please don't take offense, but when this happens, my cure for insomnia is to turn on the radio and listen to the replay of ... the Leonard Lopate Show. I usually make it through one or two segments - it takes my mind away from any other preoccupations that might be keeping me awake, and Leonard's calm voice sends me back to sleep.

Nov. 07 2007 01:14 PM
chestine from NY

lots of things to do together:

darken the room/wear a sleep mask
wear socks to bed
dr hoffman's formula from vitamin shoppe
read awhile
deep breathing/meditation
listen to binaural beat cds or soundhealth cds on my ipod, really softly

Nov. 07 2007 01:07 PM

Warm milk almost always does the trick. My mom gave me a mug every night before bed too!

Nov. 07 2007 01:03 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

I rarely have sleep problems, but when I do, I count backwards slowly starting at 99, while visualizing each number.

When I was a little kid, my mom would give me warm milk with honey to put me to sleep....later I read somewhere that that drink calms kids because it tastes very similar to breast milk.

Nov. 07 2007 10:19 AM

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