Monday, April 20, 2015

That Elusive Good Night's Sleep

by Terri

It’s the end of another day. Before long you will be thinking about going off to bed to get a good night’s sleep. We all know how important sleep is, but the older we get, the harder it seems to get it. Some people can fall asleep quickly but then they’re awake at 2 a.m. and can’t fall back to sleep. Others go to bed at night and lay there for hours and sleep just eludes them.

I’m sure all of you who have sleep problems have read the many books on how to get a good night’s sleep. Some are so obvious: be careful about drinking anything with caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime; make sure your room is dark; keep the noise down; take a warm bath.  A few not-so-obvious ones are: set a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time every day; keep your room temperature around 65 degrees; make sure your bed/pillow is comfortable. Over the years, I have tried many if not all of the above.  But many nights, sleep still eluded me.

In this day and age with so much digital technology, screentime is something that can keep us awake at night: our computers, cellphones, iPads, etc. I was spending the evening hours on my computer, cruising Instagram and reading on my iPad. Using screens at night was adversely affecting my sleep.

So I decided to read up on this subject and picked up a few hints. First of all, learn how to adjust your device’s brightness and dim it as far as possible at night. So down went the brightness on my phone.  Holding it farther away from your face can help as well. Most phones and tablets can invert colors, displaying white text on a black background. If you use a backlit device to read at night, learn how to change this setting. It’s a good way to reduce the light coming from your phone or tablet.

I tried doing both of these things and it did help but I would find myself going in to my computer, just to check for an email, and 30 minutes later I was still on it.  You guessed it, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep for hours after that.  Then my oldest son who has had sleep issues for years told me that there was an app that changes the color of the light emanating from your screen from the blue light of day to an amber light at night. When you download the app, you tell it what time zone you are in and it does the rest. At first I was skeptical but I’m telling you, it’s a miracle!  I had no idea how much that blue light was affecting my sleep!

Here's a sample of my Flux settings both during the day and at night:

You can download this app for free at  It is available for both Windows and Mac and they are working on versions for iPhones, iPads and Android phones. I’ve been trying to limit my use of those at night but at least I can now be on my computer worry-free. One hint, though. You don’t want to be editing photos at night with Flux on.  It will throw your colors off.   If you absolutely must edit a photo, click on the little box in the lower left that says “Disable for 1 hour”. Then your screen will revert back to its daytime colors. 

So if you’re finding yourself using your devices at night and then having sleep problems, give some of these hints a try.  You might just have the best night’s sleep in a long time and be ready to greet the day with a smile!

Do you have any hints about things you do to insure a good night’s sleep?  Be sure to share!


Dotti said...

Such good information, Terri. I'm going to check out flux even though I do limit my evening screen time and turn off my computer no later than 8 pm. And it's not only the blue light thing. I find that an email or article can chug my brain into high gear just at the time it needs to be winding down instead. A good nights sleep is priceless and I'm afraid it can be age related. Although there are plenty if younger people who struggle, too. Here's to a good night's sleep for all of us. Sweet dreams!

kelly said...

terri this is big struggle for me. I love strolling through IG or Pinterest in bed while Tripp is watching the news, but I've had to stop that completely because of the adverse effect on sleeping. I thought it was just the mental stimulation keeping me awake, but it's interesting about the light settings so i'll check into that! thanks for the great tips!!

Barb said...

Hi Terri - I'm interested in sleep research and know that any light on the spectrum except red will adversely affect Melatonin production and inhibit sleep. So a room as dark as you can get it is the best - if you have a clock that emits green light, block the light with a towel or index card. (Don't use night lights in your bedroom unless they're the red infrared ones.) I've given up caffeine almost entirely (I still sometimes have a cup of tea in the morning). I also started using a Magnesium supplement at night (most people are deficient in Magnesium). It is a muscle relaxant that induces sleep. (Don't supplement if you have kidney or heart issues without consulting a DR.) My sleep issues which were pretty terrible during Menopause are finally abating and most nights I'm getting enough restful sleep.

Barb said...

PS I meant to tell you that those sunsets are gorgeous!

Roxi Hardegree said...

I've heard about this recently and fortunately most of the time it doesn't bother me. But I know sometimes it has for sure. Currently I'm sleeping like a baby and I use essential oils at night that help with the sleepys. Gorgeous sunset!

terriporter said...

Would love to hear more about those essential oils, Roxi!

terriporter said...

Hope it works for you, Kelly!

terriporter said...

I agree, Dotti. It's not only the light. If I can find an app that shuts off your brain, I'll be sure to let you know!

terriporter said...

Thanks, Barb!

Carol said...

Terri -if these suggestions really work, I will be eternally grateful. All my life I slept beautifully -never gave it a thought . But in the last five years NOT AT ALL! Its a horrible feeling! Im going to try all this !!

terriporter said...

Carol, I know firsthand how frustrating that is! Hope some of these things help.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Terri! Yep, Im one that starts out falling asleep only to wake at 3am ugh! Going to try some of these methods because the last thing I want is to take another pill lol! My brain just won't shut off and I would love to get at least 6hrs! Oh, I also have to have some kind of white noise to drown out the piercing silence! Thanks for sharing!

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