Notes For Night Owls: 3 Tips To Help You Work Around Insomnia
Jack Register, a clinical social worker and executive director of NAMI North Carolina, offers these tips for dealing with insomnia from his professional and personal experience:
#1 Fact-finding mission
Start with a sleep journal, he advises. “Rate what your sleep is like. What you did before you got in bed. Did you wake up during the night? When you woke up in the morning, did you feel rested?”
At a sleep clinic, specialists might ask you to chart not only your sleep patterns, but also your emotions and attitudes toward sleep. They typically look at your daily routine, too. For example, how much caffeine do you drink and how late? Do you bring your cell phone or tablet to bed? Do you exercise regularly?
#2 Schedule for success
Try to cluster tasks at your most alert part of the day. For example, Register recommends that college students take their most challenging courses in the late morning or afternoon. “Don’t [plan] things for 8 a.m. if you won’t be able to function,” says Register.
In most cases, employees (and students) can seek accommodations and schedule changes with proper documentation from a psychiatrist or other health care provider. Other possibilities for night owls include working a late shift or finding a job where you can shape your own hours.
#3 Share the news
Make sure your loved ones understand that your insomnia (and resultant oversleeping) is due to a medical condition, Register says. “My mom had bipolar disorder and she never got up with us kids,” he explains. “It wasn’t until years later that we realized that it wasn’t that she didn’t care about us, it was that she had a mental health condition. Understanding the nature of her illness changed the course of our relationship.”
Printed as “A field guide to 40 winks,” Fall 2016