Epilepsy Talk

12 Sleep Tricks | June 4, 2019

We all know that sleep deprivation can trigger seizures.

Some people’s seizures are tied very closely with their sleep. You may have all of your seizures while sleeping, when falling asleep or waking up.

Lot of things can affect your sleep and make you more likely to have seizures. Here are a few factors to consider:

Not getting enough sleep
Not getting ‘good quality’ sleep 
Having seizures at night
Depression and anxiety
Stimulants taken prior to sleep
Medication side-effects 
Sleep disorders

It’s definitely a vicious cycle. And so I searched for some sleep tips. Some may be familiar to you and some may be new…

1.) Try changing your sleeping position
Sleep on your side, not your back. It’s the best position for relaxing, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. This may be due to the effects of gravity, which cause your throat to narrow when you lie on your back and allows more oxygen in when you sleep on your side. Special pillows can help maintain this position.

2.) Squeeze and relax
Lying on your back, breathe slowly and tense your toes tightly as if you are trying to curl them under your foot, then relax them. On another slow breath, curl your foot up toward your knee, then release. Breathe again, contract your calf muscles, then your thighs, buttocks, belly, chest, arms, and neck until you have moved all the way up your body, squeezing and releasing the muscles one by one. When you have gone from head to toe, your breathing should be steady and you should feel ready for sleep.

3.) Pressure points
There are special points in the body which promote sleep when pressed gently but firmly. Put your thumb on the point between your eyebrows at the top of your nose, where there’s a slight indent. Hold for 20 seconds, release briefly and repeat twice more. Next, sit on the edge of the bed and put your right foot across your left knee. Find the slight indent between your big toe and second toe and press in the same way. Finally, while still supporting your right foot, find the point just below the nail on the upper side of your second toe. Using the thumb and forefinger of your right hand, gently squeeze the toe.

4.) Deep breathing
I breath in through my nostrils and hold my breath for ten seconds — although, some people do it for 5 seconds — and then exhale from my mouth to the count of ten, through pursed lips. (Think of blowing out birthday candles!)

5.) Inhale through your left nostril
This yoga method is thought to reduce blood pressure and calm you. Lie on your left side, resting a finger on your right nostril to close it. Start slow, deep breathing in the left nostril.

6.) Visualize
Imagine yourself in a situation where you feel content — a tropical paradise, sailing on calm waters, walking in flower fields. Imagine smelling flowers, feeling grass or sand under your feet and hearing water lap against the boat. You should soon feel relaxed and drift off.

7.) Turn off all electronics
Say no to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Email, Texting, and any other social media outlet you participate in at least an hour before sleeping. Besides the bright light from the screens, social media outlets (like on your phone and computer) can cause stress and raise anxiety levels.

8.) Reduce unwanted noise
Turn on a white noise generator or a recording of sounds from nature. The constant, low-level sound drowns out other noises that may prevent you from falling asleep. You could also listen to soft, relaxing music.

9.) Keep it dark
Bright lights, not just from electronics, can be an enemy to falling asleep. They trick your body into thinking it’s too early in the day for sleep, and prevent an increase in hormones responsible for sleepiness. Turn off all overhead lights, night lights, and lamps to fall asleep faster. Don’t forget to close your blinds too! Light-blocking curtains can be extra beneficial when combined with closed blinds for improved sleep speed.

10.) Avoid illuminated bedroom clocks
Try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible. An illuminated bedroom clock is a source of light that can be extremely annoying if you’re having a hard time getting to sleep. If you can’t replace the clock, at least block its light with something.

11.) Roll your eyes
Closing your eyes and rolling the balls up three times can do the job. It simulates what you do naturally when you fall asleep and may help trigger the release of your sleepy hormone, melatonin.

12.) Hum to yourself (I’m sure your partner will love it!)
Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, drop your shoulders, relax your jaw, but keep your mouth gently closed. Breathe in through your nose as deeply as is comfortable, ensuring your stomach, not chest, rises. Breathe gently out of your mouth — lips together — so you hum. Try to hum for the whole out-breath. Notice how it vibrates in your chest. Focus fully on this vibration over six breaths then sit quietly for a moment.

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  1. Cut caffeine by 6 or 7 PM…earlier for some of us.
    No snacking before bed. You want a solid sleep, no waking up to use the bathroom.

    Bedroom is for sleeping. No surfing the net, reading a book, or watching TV.

    Put your devices in “night mode” the blue light computers/phones/tablets give off and messes with your serotonin production.

    If you can’t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes get out of bed and do something dull, then when you are feeling tired go back to bed.

    KEEP TIMES CONSISTENT. Don’t shift your sleep around. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time!

    I “black out” my bedroom. My alarm clock was too bright so I put a gel (colored plastic used for stage lights) over the LED screen to dampen the light it kicks out. You can order these at music stores or even online. Did the same for other devices or power supplies that put out light.

    I saw a doctor trained in CBT-I. or cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia to help with mine.

    Buy a firbit! I bought the Flex2 last year to help chart my sleep.

    Drugs are last resort. I tried Melatonin but it only worked for so long before it became ineffective.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Travis — June 4, 2019 @ 10:52 AM

  2. All great tips, Travis.

    But “No waking up to use the bathroom?” That’s impossible for me! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 4, 2019 @ 11:47 AM

  3. I highly recommend using blue blocking glasses if you are going to be looking at any screen after sunset. They have them in reading glasses for those of us who need reading glasses for close up work too. You can order them on Amazon. Many brands.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by paleobird — June 4, 2019 @ 12:24 PM

  4. GREAT idea!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 4, 2019 @ 12:40 PM

  5. My problem is not so much falling asleep as it is STAYING asleep.
    I go to bed about 11.30..I wake up about 2. Up until about 330. Sleep until 5. Go back to sleep about 6 and get up to see my wife off and fix her breakfast at 630.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mark Thompson — June 5, 2019 @ 7:09 AM

  6. Have you considered Meltonin? I take 10 MG when I can’t sleep and it usually does the trick for me.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 5, 2019 @ 8:07 AM

  7. I was told ”don’t know how true it is” that if your digital clock shines RED numbers that the red will help you relax more, whereas the blue, green & yellow lighted numbers can keep you energized. I also was told at the same time that using a pointer pen that us used maybe to instruct or point to an object that the ultraviolet red beam will help relax the brain if you use it pointed on your brain areas, and that the red beam also helps with pain & swelling according to chiropractors & massage therapists. Also last night around 7 I used the foot massager after being outside most of the day using a weed eater, on uneven ground. WV is not flat & my feet were tired. Last night was 1 of my best nights of sleeping I had for a while & I believe that foot massager helped with that as I did feel more relaxed after a 30 to 45 minute foot massage. You do not need tired feet to use it. EXAMPLE,,,,I have used it after a GRAND MAL seizure, & it helped relax my entire body in areas where I felt sore from the seizure. It did not make the recovery much faster but I fell it did help the nerve endings in the feet activate other nerve endings in other areas of the body to relax them. KOHL’s I believe was where I bought my foot messager.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by C D — June 5, 2019 @ 10:03 AM

    • Great tip C D, but I thought it was blue illuminated numbers that help you relax.

      (Although, come to think of it, I have red digital numbers on my bedside clock!)

      I love your suggestion about the foot massager because of the sensitive nerves in your feet.



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 5, 2019 @ 10:10 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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