Transcribe your podcast

Ireland, give joy at Boots, with hundreds of amazing gifts available for 15 euro and under on a huge range of brands like champagne, jewels and perfusion. With Home Delivery and Click & Collect, it's never been easier to take everyone off your Christmas list.


Boots, give joy.


Selected stores subject to availability delivery charges may apply.


Hey, I'm Christina Quinn. Welcome back to Try This from The Washington Post. This is the third of five classes in our course about how to get better sleep. In our last session, we talked with sleep therapist, Lisa Strauss, about managing the thoughts that keep you up at night with a cognitive behavioral therapy technique called scheduled worry time. Now we're going to devote two classes to how to deal with waking up and not being able to fall back asleep. Whether you're lying in the dark, ignoring your clock, or trying to avoid fears about feeling lousy in the morning, it can be isolating, a solitude matched only by just how common it is. There are lots of reasons why we wake up at night. Ideally, we roll over and fall back asleep. But other factors can make that hard to do, like stress, anxiety, or disruptions by kids and pets. Sometimes our default setting is to keep on thinking our thoughts when what we really need is a distraction. Lisa Strauss, our sleep expert, says it must be a soothing distraction.


A limitation of the human mind is that we cannot entertain two narratives simultaneously simultaneously. We can rapidly shift our attention, but at any given moment in time, we can only follow one narrative. Well, let's capitalize on that limitation of the human mind.


A soothing distraction can be any number of things, but the point of it is to help you fall back asleep by breaking away from your anxious thoughts, the roving mind. So first, get out of your head and let something else do the work.


A lot of times people ask me about techniques that they have read about, heard about, attempted that are not actually the right things for them. So the kinds of techniques that are not sufficient are things like visualizations, perhaps picturing yourself floating down a gentle river at night in a little boat, looking up at the stars wrapped in a blanket, very soothing, let's assume, very peaceful visualization for a given individual. But a shortcoming of that technique is that it doesn't last long enough. We get two minutes into the visualization, we're still wide awake and now we're like, Oh, great. Now, what do I focus on? There's work involved, creativity, resourcefulness, sustained focus, all things that are challenging for an exhausted human to martial. Other techniques in this category might include muscle relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, prayer, counting backwards from 1,000 by sevens.


By sevens? Counting back from 1,000 by sevens? So 1,992 and then I have to do arithmetic?


Well, it would be 993, Christina.


That's terrible. Yeah, no, it would be. Oh, no.


There are three potential shortcomings of the techniques in this category. One is that they don't last long enough. One is that they're not distracting enough. The final one is that they may be too goal-oriented, either because we put our own goal orientation onto them or because they are intrinsically goal-oriented.


So it's time to outsource that creative and emotional labor. You need a break. And now, more than ever, you have a lot of choices.


You want something that can go on for a very long time because you don't want it to run out on you if you still need it. And psychologically, you don't want to feel time closing in on you. So you want to pick very abundant resources. Books are very abundant, and there's always another one. Same thing for audiobooks. If it's podcasts, you would need to stack them so that they play in series. You want to be thoughtful about the duration of the resource that you're choosing. You're not going to literally want it to play all night because that would be like a hate joke. It could keep waking you up all night. It's like falling asleep in front of the television.


It may seem obvious, but the content you select is key.


You want to pick something that is pleasant, that transports you from the problems of this world that is natural competition for your default thoughts that you find soothing. Nothing that's so compelling that it would keep you up. Again, if the content keeps you up, that's also a deal breaker. Nothing where you'd feel compelled to rewind if you miss a little of it. Something that's very simple in its themes, in its language.


We're talking low stake story time like children's literature, old timey novels, short stories that don't have any heavy subtext. Lisa's patients have also had success with spiritual lectures like Darma Talks and Travelogs and autobiographies by Cheffs.


People love British accent to that hour, male voices. I've had a million in one patients independently tell me that they listen to old episodes of Friends, and I think they feel as if they're among old friends. It's comforting for them. They're not looking at the screen, they know the episodes. So you get the idea.


There's a sea of soothing content out there that's not so compelling, it will keep you awake, but not so boring that your mind will default to your pesky thoughts setting. However, Lisa says it is very important to prepare your soothing distraction in advance.


You want to pick out resources during the day. And if you're using an app that's unfamiliar to you, you want to practice the heck out of it during the day so that you're not doing battle with a weird alien creature in the middle of the night, and you want to have it all set up, bedside and all queued up and blue-blocked and dimmed. It's waiting for you. There is no work to do at 3:00 in the morning. You're not hunting for what to read or listen to. You never want to approach the use of soothing distraction with a goal of sleep. If you have the occasional goal-oriented thought, I hope this puts me to sleep, or, She told me to listen. That's okay, you're only human. But please understand that at an overarching level, you're not turning to this to put you to sleep. You may indeed fall asleep. Yay, problem solved. But the best attitude with which to approach it is, Oh, shoot, I'm awake anyway. All right, I might as well listen to my lecture series. Maybe I'll sleep, maybe I won't. Who knows? Unfortunately, it's not under my control, but at least I'll get some rest.


At least it'll help me to pass the time. At least I won't be caught up in my default thoughts that are interfering with rest and peace and sleep.


Okay, so it's the middle of the night, you've woken up, and you want to follow Lisa's guidelines for finding just the right distraction. But in order to put on your podcast or read your book on an e-reader, you need to do something that's not so great for falling back asleep, and that's looking at a screen or turning on the light.


Light in the middle of the night is especially impactful, even very small amounts of it.


You want to reduce your light exposure so you don't confuse your body's melatonin levels. We'll go deeper on the ins and outs of melatonin in the fifth class of the sleep course. So before you turn on the light, try this. Ladies and gentlemen, put on your safety goggles.


Lisa suggests you get some blue light blocking glasses. I'm not talking about the stylish glasses with clear lenses being shield everywhere online. I'm talking about industrial safety goggles with orange lenses, the kind that dentists use. Pop those on and your brain won't think it's time to start the day. For what it's worth, I bought a three pack and I wear them in the evening when reading in bed. Yes, I look ridiculous. I also look safe and OSHA compliant, but I really think they help. Okay, so a quick recap. Three guidelines for a soothing distraction include: number one, outsource the creative energy to distract yourself, whether it's with an audiobook, podcast, or physical book. Number two, pick something long and prep ahead of time with a queue of selected episodes or chapters. Number three, make sure to select easy listening content. Don't forget, limit your light exposure at night by wearing orange safety glasses. Those paired with your pajamas, you're going to look fabulous. Now, what if I told you that the reason you keep waking up at night might have something to do with your sleep drive? That's what we get into in our next session.


For more resources and some good suggestions for distractions, check out our show notes. We'll be back with our fourth class next week. But if you're a Washington Post subscriber, you can access the full course right now by connecting your subscription to the Washington Post channel on Apple Podcasts. If you're not yet a subscriber, go to washtonpost. Com/subscribe or look for the link in our show notes. If you're enjoying this course, please take a minute to rate and review the series in Apple Podcasts. To share ideas for future audio courses, as always, send us an email. The address is trythis@washpost. Com. I'm Christina Quinn. See you in class number four.


Ireland, give joy with unmissable deals at Boots. Discover better than half price star gifts for the real stars in your life. Like the Ted Baker cosmetics collection was €65, now €32. Shop today and don't miss out. Boots, give joy. Selected stores subject to availability, worth price based on standard selling price of individual items offer ends 24th of December.