Do you wake up during the night and struggle to get back to sleep?
Do you have difficulty going to sleep?
Do you have difficulty waking up?
Before you try a lot of techniques, devices and medications for your sleep, maybe you first need to track your personal sleep cycle over a week or two.
For over a year I worked with several students who had regular or intermittent sleep challenges and what we realized was that they didn’t really know their sleep cycles. So we spent time learning how to best represent their sleep cycle. One of the students was an artist, and she had some great ideas.
We decided to use a clock face — most of us so familiar with it that we read the time even when very sleepy.
Then we needed to find a way to show the actual sleep — and to do this, we had the idea of an inner dial. That dial would show the actual sleep time (approximately). The outer part would show when the student was awake. And, the artistic student found it really helped if she coloured the times.
At the left we can see one night. She went to bed at ll pm (the down-arrow) and did not fall asleep until 12 (the green colour). She slept until 2, when she got up (to the bathroom) then came right back to bed, lay awake until 3, then slept until 7 and got up immediately.
She had thought that she had not slept well that night, that she had laid in bed “for hours” yet, she saw that she had a “pretty good” sleep from 3 to 7.
As it turned out, she discovered that she had a pattern of sleeping from about 3 to 7 almost every night. When she knew that was her pattern, she was able to relax a bit. She wondered how she might better use her time. If she was going to be up around 2, she began to plan to do something meaningful to her, but also relaxing (it was knitting). The period dropping off to sleep became a time to listen to self-help recordings, spiritual recordings, or gentle Feldenkrais lessons.
Within a month she had a new lease on life.