I often hear about problems people have getting BACK to sleep after they’ve gotten up because something disturbed them – or even when they awoke to use the bathroom. If the sleep interruption is extended, returning to a sound sleep can be a major problem, especially if you’ve already been sleeping for several hours. My suggestions below can help these situations, but probably not as well as they can help someone who is only awakened for a brief time.

I learned this first trick from Donna, an employee and friend who worked with us many years ago. Donna is from Texas and often gave us words of wisdom in her own down-home sort of way. She told us that every man needs a pick-em up truck, that it’s embarrassing to choke on your own spit, and that some husbands and wives can’t wash their underwear in the same washing machine without getting pregnant.

Donna told me to only open one eye when I had to get up – and only open it enough to find my way to my destination and back to bed. The idea is to trick my body into believing that it was still “mostly asleep”. I’ve done this for many years and I can attest to its effectiveness.

Here’s another – and it can also help getting to sleep in the first place and returning to sleep after being disturbed. Lay on your back. Pull the covers up and put both hands above your head. Then do some deep breathing exercises (inhale through the nose, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, HOLD for a count then exhale through the mouth, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HOLD for one count, then repeat). It won’t be long before you have the urge to roll over and get into your regular sleeping position. Withstand the urge for a few more minutes. When you finally succumb, you will find it easier to get to sleep (or back to sleep).

Why does this often work? With your arms up, you are compressing part of your breathing system. The deep breathing exercise produces additional carbon dioxide which, though harmless, can cause drowsiness. The longer you keep your hands together and your arms up, the more CO2 you produce. You become sleepy because of “lack of oxygen”. Not to worry. You won’t just suffocate for the same reason a baby won’t stop breathing when he/she has a tantrum and holds his/her breath. Nature takes over in plenty of time to prevent damage.

A doctor once told me it is unsafe to sleep with your arms above your head – because of the O2 and CO2 issue. However, I’ve discovered that I can never sleep with my arms up. I always end up curled to the sides with both arms and hands under the covers.

Here’s another sleep tip. Make sure your feet are warm. Wear socks and invest in a hot water bottle. Don’t use an electric blanket or an electric heating pad (potential emf waves). I put the hot water bottle in the foot of my bed about ten minutes before climbing in myself – warms the area just right. If you happen to be thinning in the dome area, keep your head warm with a thin stocking cap. Old Scrooge wasn’t wrong to wear a sleeping cap. Most of us have just gotten out of the habit.

The final sleep tip is using a Breathe Right strip. These things really work and keep the nose open. More air (more CO2 if you do the hands up technique). They also help reduce snoring.