I went to bed tonight at 10PM, completely exhausted. It is now 1 AM and I cannot sleep. This is a recurring problem, so I was hoping you could offer me some suggestions, since cats never seem to have an issue with falling asleep. My doctor has suggested sleeping pills, but I do not want to take them because they can become habit forming (plus, they are not cheap and I do not have prescription coverage).
Do you know of any all natural ways to fall asleep - and stay that way for more than a few hours?
Sleepy But Not Asleep
You are correct in your knowledge that cats are champion sleepers! However, much of the time that it appears we are sleeping is when we are actually just lightly dozing. We remain conscious of our surroundings, as well as the slightest sounds - like the electric can opener, the sound of cat cereal being poured into a dish, or the door to the outside opening. It sounds to me like you sleep like a cat does when other are around - very lightly.
I can understand your hesitancy to take sleeping pills, since sleep should be the most natural thing in the world; but often times there is an imbalance in the brain chemistry that disrupts circadian rhythms - that's the sleeping/waking cycle that our bodies naturally experience. Many people have found success in conquering their sleeping troubles with a small dose of melatonin a few hours before bed each night. However, if you are adamant against taking any kind of pill or supplement, there are other ways to help you fall - and stay - asleep.
The scent of lavender makes people sleepy and continuous exposure guarantees continued sleep (which could be why so many hospitals use lavender scented disinfectants). Try spraying your pillow with lavender oil just before bed, or tucking a lavender sachet under your pillow. If there is someone special in your life, ask them to rub your feet with lavender scented baby oil (my Mommie did this to me once, after I got Christmas tree sap in my paws. I slept for three days straight!). Other relaxing scents are vanilla, and sage (just do not use the popular combination of citrus and sage, as citrus will energize you).
Relaxing meditation with or without relaxing sounds of nature CD's is another way to fall - and stay - asleep. Why not try this? Just as you start to feel sleepy, lay down in bed in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Let go of all thoughts about your life, and imagine you are someplace restful; a place that, if you could go anywhere, would be your secret hideaway from the world. Is it a warm beach? A mountain pine forest? A secret garden with butterflies dancing over your head? Take the time to explore your relaxing surroundings. Can you smell the salty air? The pine-fresh scent? The flowers in the garden? Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Are you alone, or is someone with you? Don't speak! What sounds do you hear? Continue with this meditation until you drift off to dreamland. If you find yourself waking up a few hours later, relax and think about your secret hideaway.
Hopefully one of these, or a combination of these, techniques will help you. I cannot imagine how awful it must be not to get in at least 18 hours a day of restful napping!