Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Help! Can anyone help me get to sleep?

Hi everyone,

This isn't a gardening post. A post about something else that is occupying my nights and weekends at the moment and I'm wondering if it's something some of you might be able to assist with.

I'm a UN volunteer...before I continue this post, I have to say that I am not a political person as such and do not get into the politics of why a situation is, whether it is right or wrong - none of that rhetoric - I volunteer because I want to help innocent civilians.  As a human, I want to contribute to the world in which I live.  I've been lucky in that I've received help in the past from total strangers and even though I am an often cynical lady, I do feel that most people want to do the right thing and I still retain a certain wonder at the kindness of some people. I'm not a wealthy individual and cannot afford to donate much financially to worthy causes  (although I do where I can, particularly to an organisation that helps homeless kids in my hometown - they once helped me a long time ago) so I feel that at least I can donate my time.


This year I started on a new project for Eastern Uganda working on Human Rights and got pulled into a project on sustainable agriculture as a side shoot of what I was doing (more on this in another post as I'll need to ask for your knowledge with regards to seed saving and storage) but I've been sidetracked of late.  The Libyan Crisis happened and I started on an urgent project for OCHA, helping to map the Libyan crisis.  Work I've done on each project has been ultimately very rewarding but I'm finding it difficult to unwind enough to sleep at night.  I'm constantly on twitter feeds and news sites to report on what is happening to enable humanitarian agencies on the ground in Libya to get a map of what is happening where.  When I'm not doing that, I'm researching the treatment of people in Uganda and the abuses they suffer.  I'm the sort of person to get pulled into people's stories and some of what you discover is truly heart breaking, it keeps me up at night and permeates into my dreams. any of you know of any ways to help put an active mind at rest enough to enable sleep?

Sorry that this is a totally incomprehensible post.  My mind is such a fog at the moment.  One of you will know a sure fire herbal remedy or something!!


  1. How wonderful to hear you're involved in these very worthwhile and necessary projects.

    I'm not too sure if I can help but can suggest watching a very involving movie or tv series about something altogether different to move your mind to another place. Perhaps Downton Abbey (I've just started getting into it online!) or reading a good book might help?

    Hope you get some rest and sleep soon though. Failing that Bachs rescue remedy, some strong massage oil for the back and a hot water bottle might help? :-)

  2. If I could suggest that after six in the evening you stay off of the internet and maybe do some light stretches and deep breathing. I think you need to give your brain a break from the sadness it is bombarded with before you go to bed. Also try a warm, soothing bath. I really think the trick is staying off the computer at night for a while. Maybe just until you get some needed rest. Good Luck!

  3. There is no trick to taking work home from work, it simply is a case of leaving it behind when you are at home. The more you take home, the less you are there for those who truly need you. Wasted night sleeps contribute to not only being there for the cause but also to not being there for your family. If you are doing this from home, you need to set aside space for dedicating to your work. When you leave this space, you leave the work behind. Dedicate yourself too much and you start to lose yourself and be less effective for all the causes that need you.

    For sleeping; NO ALCOHOL.

    Right now I am into essential oils, as I have had unbelievable success with healing my heel spur. My choice is lavender and valerian. You can also try chamomile tea, meditation, or yoga.

    ..and the bad news is the more you try to not think about something, the more you do! Sorry, I may not have been much help.

  4. Thank you friends :) It is so lovely that you are there right now talking to me, thank you :) I'll try all of your suggestions - Daffodil, the no alcohol one is a good one to try as I have had the odd glass of wine here and there lately!

  5. Perhaps it's not so bad too loose some sleep every now and then if it's for a worthy cause... gxo

  6. I often have time sleeping. I fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow, but 20 minutes into the snooze, I wake up. So I put on headphones and listen to a radio program Coast to Coast ( It is sort of a tabloid radio program, but it never fails that once I get interested in the topic I fall asleep. Other nights, I listen to music. Deep breathing might also help. Continue your wonderful work, then find some soothing music to calm your mind. Let me know it works.

  7. I am having the same problem too. The mind can't rest it goes to so many direction and you can't sleep. Mainly that is the quietest time of the day when the kids are sleeping and finally you have the time for youself. Now you have time to start thinking about other stuff than the routine.How about a massage and listening to bali music like you are in a spa.

  8. what rewarding work you are doing... I would also just re-iterate what others have said - treat that as a day job and keep your evenings for relaxing pursuits.

  9. You are an awesome human, and I thank you for your dedication to helping others.

    Reading... some 'fluffy' chick-lit type stuff maybe? I used to read reference books, or non-fiction type stuff before bed and not only did I then find it hard to get to sleep, I'd wake up in the night at some point, and it would all be back in my head again! It's hard to go from researching such hard stuff, and wanting to make it better, to reading stuff that is totally irrelevant... but if that's what you need to do to look after yourself and be able to keep doing the good work, then it's OK.

    I am reading 'Extra Virgin' by Annies Hawes at the moment, but I can send it to you when I am done. It's got me going to bed early every night to read more of her tales about living in Liguria with the strange Italian customs (warning: it does make you hungry though!)

  10. What a great job you are doing,perhaps you could brings us updates via your blog. Sometimes getting things off your chest can help and maybe you need to vent about the situation. Other than that I agree with the others especially about the removal of the internet before bed. And finally before going to sleep think of everything you have to be thankful for rather than the sad stories you are thinking about. You cannot help anyone if you are tired.

  11. Try warm milk with 1/2 tsp tumeric and 1/2 tsp nutmeg- ayurvedic
    Lying on your back, legs in a frog pose, and palms resting upwards- yoga
    Lying in bed, mentally closing all the 'doors'.
    That's 3 others that could be helpful anyway...

    Goodluck. The work you are doing is wonderful, but not sleeping is hard.

  12. Here are just a couple of things that I found helpful to me:

    1. A Yoga breathing technique (stepping the out breaths). You can practise it in bed trying to get to sleep or at any other time of the day (e.g. when you get home from work). Lie comfortable on your back. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Breathing in deeply and exhaling 1/3 of the way out, imaging that the breath going down to your chest, and hold. Exhaling another 1/3 of the way out, imaging the breath going down the rest of your upper body, and hold. Finally, exhaling fully, imaging the breath going down your lower body through your legs and feet and thinking about letting go. You can practise this 5 or more times. If it is done correctly, you will find your exhalation deepens and your mind is much calmer.

    2. Redirecting the mind. Be mindful during the day and collect beautiful things you see and/or experience. Savour the experience and absorb it deeply. Bring up these positive images/experiences from time to time and when you try to go to sleep.

    I hope it helps. Give me a call or drop me an email if you want to chat more about it.

    Lots of love. XOXO.

  13. Thanks for all your suggestions and support!

    I do have a day job, a paid work job...but at night after the kids have gone to bed, I log into my UN volunteer job and also on weekends. I find it hard to shake images and news from my mind, I'm reporting in another time zone at the moment for the Libyan project so by the time I actually try to sleep it's pretty late, around midnight or later usually. Some of the things I report on in order to get humanitarian aid to locations are pretty horrific. I've just reported on a girl who was raped until she died, also about abductions, killings, torture and poisoning of wells in refugee camps - and I just cannot believe people can be so cruel. I'm a pretty sensitive soul haven't grown a thick skin yet despite all these years doing this...

    Back to happy gardening for this blog I think! I needed your help and I really thank you for all of your suggestions! I'll try them tonight. Back to reporting for now...

  14. Just reporting now on the generosity of Tunisian families all across Tunisia who are offering free homes and to take in Libyan refugees. 1,300 Libyan refugee families are currently being taken in by Tunisian families. So in one way the conflict is showing the generosity of spirit some people have. If karma exists...surely it must!!

  15. Specifically in answer to your question - lemon verbena tea (you probably have a tree in your yard!). Few leaves in hot water help me to sleep like a baby. Meditation helps a lot too. Take it easy, Mrs B!

  16. Wonderful to hear about your UN work. I used to have the same sleep problem when I was working in a high pressure job. For me what worked was getting engrossed in a book that really interested me. It made my brain switch channels. And yes, like others have commented, meditation is a huge help. I just sit up in bed and do it.

  17. Wonderful to hear you are working on such a worthy cause. Good on you and I think its quite natural to have your mind racing under the circumstances. When I'm stressed and lying in bed with my mind racing I do breathing and visualization exercises.
    Breath deeply in through the nostrils and exhale deeply through the mouth, visualize a dark black sky and relax your body. Let the breathing be your sole focus. My hubby thinks I'm totally nuts deep breathing myself to sleep, but it works for me. Good luck.

  18. Similar to Off the Peg's method:

    When I have trouble with my head replaying everything and worse, I try to visualize a blank screen (which in my perversity, I make black and furry, like my cat's fur - perhaps yours could be hen feathers?). As soon as my thoughts wander, I focus back on that solid, unvariable screen again, and as silly as it sounds it begins to work.

    I agree that if you are able to stay off the data input and output after 6 at night, you will have an easier time. Your brain is very engaged. Personally, I would not ban the glass of wine. Just don't hit the Scotch :-)

    I am sure it will get better soon. I don't know how people under constant traumatic pressure cope.

    I am interested in the software that is used to create these hotspots. We'd like to do something similar with mugging hotspots in Cape Town :-(

    Thanks for commenting on 66 Square Feet - glad I found you!


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