SO You CAN’T sLEEP ? If you’re in jail or prison, probably at some point in time you will have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. It happens to almost everybody. The first thing you need to know is, it’s not a fatal condition! You can relax – basically, no one ever died just from a lack of sleep. So far as psychologists can tell, if you don’t sleep well (or even don’t sleep at all) for several days on end, the worst that will happen is that you will be less alert to what’s going on around you, you will have more trouble remembering things than usual, and you will become easily irritated by people or circumstances. (The same kind of things that in the freeworld would make you yell at the baby, cuss the dog or throw things around). But if you know ahead of time that these things are going to happen, you can take steps to handle it – you can pay closer attention, jot things down if you need to remember them, and most importantly, stay out of other peoples’ way. So Rule # 1 is: Don’t ―try‖ to go to sleep – the harder you ―try‖ the more anxious you will get and the harder it will be to go to sleep. Just relax……it will be okay. WHAT COULD BE WRONG? There are some techniques you can use to help yourself go to sleep more easily, but most people don’t really know these techniques very well. Once you have read this booklet, you will be ahead of other people in that area – but before we explain the specific techniques, it might help to know more about why you are having trouble sleeping. Here are some possible reasons: You’re too worried. Almost everybody in jail or prison is worried about something. You may be worried Produced by about who your wife or husband is with while you’re in here. You worry about being jumped David King, Ph.D. by other inmates. You worry about losing your job; about losing your pickup truck; about what Physicians Network Association your mother is going to think; about how much 1622 6th Street time you’re going to have to do; about whether Lubbock, TX 79413 the CO is going to do something to cross you out; but mostly about what your husband/wife www.pnamedical.net boyfriend/girlfriend is doing when you’re not there. These worries tend to go around and around in your head and even when you know there’s no use thinking about them, your brain just won’t shut off. Unfortunately, most of the things you worry about are going to be totally out of your control. If you can decide not to worry about things you can’t do anything about, you will be one giant step ahead, and on your way to being able to relax… #12 Relaxation exercises. If you have trouble getting your You’re too wired. Emotionally, fear and anxiety and body to relax, there are helpful exercises you can do. excitement are all similar to worry in their effect on The general idea is simply to tighten up different your sleep. They all get your adrenalin going and groups of muscles and then relax them, starting from keep your brain wired up so that you can’t relax. your head and working toward your toes. You may be afraid that your cellie is going to do something to you when you go to sleep. You may be Squinch up the muscles in your face and ears and really angry at what the officer said to you or the way mouth, and hold it that way until your face gets tired, he said it. Or you might even be excited about then let the muscles relax and go limp. Breathe something that’s going to happen tomorrow – a big deeply and very slowly and rest a little. Do this basketball game, or a court date, or a unit transfer. It twice. Then tighten the muscles in your shoulders, can be something positive or something negative, but hold it and hold it as long as you can, then let them anything that gets you excited will make it difficult relax. Breathe deeply and slowly and get relaxed for you to sleep, because your body can’t again. Do this twice. Then do the same thing with relax……… your chest and arms… then your stomach… then your legs… then your feet and ankles… then your You’re too “stoked,” chemically. The biggest problem drugs toes… breathing slowly and deeply and getting very for most people in jail or prison are caffeine and comfortable and relaxed in between. Do the whole nicotine, because those also get your adrenalin going. series of muscles from top to bottom twice. Then get Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cokes, energy drinks, in bed and relax both your mind and your and chocolate (either candy or drinks). Nicotine is in body……………. cigarettes and other tobacco products. There are medicines that do it, too – mainly asthma drugs, like theophyllin or inhalers; prednisone; some blood and go to sleep………….. pressure pills; several antidepressants; and most ―cold-buster‖ pills. If you’re not sure about the side effects of whatever meds you’re taking, just ask your doctor. Also, if you have been taking barbiturates (downers like phenobarb) or benzodiazepines (like Valium or Librium) for a long time, and have just recently stopped, you can expect 4-6 weeks of disturbed sleep as a result of going off those drugs. Naturally, if you are doing any kind of speed (like cocaine or meth) or are detoxing from just about anything addictive, you will have really poor sleep for quite a while until your body readjusts. You’re too sick. Any illness that produces fever is likely to #9 Thought stopping. If you have trouble keeping the make it hard to sleep. Fever by itself often gives people negative thoughts out of the way and they just nightmares. But a sore throat, stopped up nose, upset keep coming, you can use a technique which stomach, aching back or legs, or other illness (whether many people find really works, even though it chronic or acute), can make for disturbed sleep as a side may sound dumb. When you notice that you are effect of the illness. thinking negative thoughts, just yell to yourself, in your mind (not out loud), ―Stop!‖ That will You’re too fat. Some persons who are overweight have stop the flow of thoughts for a little while, and trouble breathing at night and may snore a lot or may you can then pick something positive to think get what is called ―sleep apnea,‖ where they actually about and go with that instead. There is also stop breathing from time to time during the night. another technique which allows you to crowd out It’s usually not really life-threatening, but if you stop the negative thoughts rather than stopping them breathing, you may wake up suddenly as your body cold. To do that, pick out a single simple word tries to gasp for air. If you are significantly of your choice (such as ―the‖ or ―home‖ or ―one‖ overweight, and that is what is keeping you from a or whatever you like) and repeat it to yourself good night’s rest, a diet is probably in order. approximately 2 times per second until you go to sleep. This prevents negative thoughts from You’ve damaged your brain. Not too much is known coming in – if you do notice that you are about this, but it seems that if you have done a lot of thinking something negative, just switch drugs or alcohol in your time, you may have immediately back to saying your word, and keep damaged enough brain cells that your brain doesn’t on going. Sometimes just listening to the radio work right any more, and it may not be possible for through your headphones can also block out you to sleep well until your brain has had a chance to thoughts. detox and recover. In most cases it can recover and become normal again, but it means you have to stop #10 Try to stay awake. A simple but very effective the drinking or drugging, or else it won’t have a technique that very few people know about is to chance. go to bed, relax….. and then try to see how long you can stay awake. You’re a “night owl.” Most people like to stay up all day and sleep at night, but some people just naturally feel #11 Exercise. Exercise early in the day is good — it will better if they sleep during the day and stay up at make your body tired and ready to rest. Exercise night. Your sleep schedule may not fit in well with a within 2 hours of going to bed, however, is bad jail or prison routine of ―lights out‖ at night. Most — it will get the adrenalin going and that will people can change their routine over a period of a keep you awake until everything in your body few months to adjust to either schedule, but you may settles down again. Working out in your cell, or have to use some of the techniques in this booklet at rec, or even doing some yoga exercises or until your body’s clock resets itself. walking around a track or basketball court has a lot of other benefits (losing weight, breathing better) that can help improve your sleep, too. Your schedule sucks. If you have a job assignment #7 Schedule your worry time. You certainly have plenty to that requires you to get up at 2:00a.m. and worry about. But if you let your worries get out of get off just in time for lunch, or you have to control, they will take over your life and you won’t wake up for pill call or breakfast at 4:00a.m. be able to do anything else. So when you have things then go to work at 8:00a.m., you may be out that you need to worry about, set aside a certain of luck for a while. Again, your body can specific time each day to devote to thinking about adjust to the different schedule, but for most those issues (for example, deciding if there is people it takes weeks or even months, and in anything you can do about them or not). First thing the meantime it will be tough. But if you when you wake up in the morning is a good time, or stick with the schedule long enough and use it can be while you’re on some simple job like some of the techniques in this booklet, you sweeping the halls, or it could be during count time, can do it,and then you’ll be able to just whatever works for you. Make up your mind relax…….. that you will do all your worrying during that hour or two only, and if some worries pop up into your mind during any other time of the day, just set them off Remember – until your next scheduled worry session, so as to keep them from infecting the rest of your day. Make sure The point is, if you can figure out why you are that you do not schedule this worry session just having trouble sleeping, you can hopefully before you want to go to sleep, or it won’t work at figure out how to fix it. Sometimes poor all….keep it early in the day. sleep is a result of a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder or Depressive Disorder – #8 Think good thoughts. When you are ready to go to sleep, but there will be other symptoms that go it is very helpful to spend some time on pleasant, along with it. If you think you have a soothing thoughts. It’s time to put away thoughts mental illness, you should contact the about being in prison or jail, and time to escape to mental health staff in your facility. some place and time that you really loved – maybe something you did in childhood, a special vacation you took, a secret lover, a Spring day, your most favorite Christmas, whatever. Get a picture of that event or person in your mind, and keep your thoughts and the images focused on that positive experience and relax with it……enjoy the fantasy; maybe even make it better! Many people are able to move from having such a fantasy right into dreaming about the same thing in their dreams, which also makes for a much more pleasant night’s sleep. If you find it slipping away from you, just start over again in your mind and stick with the positive images. HERE ARE YOUR HANDY HINTS #4 Stick to a schedule. As much as possible, pick a good #1 You’re right – Relax! Don’t worry about it! Sooner schedule for going to bed and for getting up, and stay or later, you will go to sleep. That’s just the way with it religiously. It helps if you have a little ritual the human body is made. It might be while of doing the same thing before you go to bed, such as you’re watching TV, or you’re in class, or at watch the news, read your Bible or Koran, or take a rec…..but sooner or later, you will go to sleep! shower. For a couple of months, do your best to get In most cases it really isn’t in your best interest up and go to sleep at the same time at least 5 nights a to take sleeping pills or medicine in order to week. It’s better if you do it on Saturday and Sunday sleep. Although they may knock you out for a nights, too, but if you want to you can relax on while, in many cases when you stop taking them that….it’s not a big deal. you will have even worse sleep problems than you did before (and you don’t want to take #5 Lighting. Because the human body and brain respond to sleeping pills for the rest of your life). If the levels of light, like daylight and dark, or summer and medical department at your jail or prison is really winter, you can sometimes improve your sleep by good, they will probably give you this booklet controlling the lighting you are exposed to. and tell you to try all these things before they Specifically, if there is any way to accomplish it, it is even think about giving you sleeping pills. So best to expose yourself to high levels of light in the you should try these things, pretty much in this morning hours (go outside to rec or go to a brightly- order, until you find what works for you. lit dayroom or chow-hall), and to avoid the bright lights in favor of darker areas in the evenings. Being #2 Don’t Take Naps! There are very few things that will in a bright dayroom right up until you want to go to ruin a good night’s sleep more than taking a nap sleep may cause problems, so it’s better to go to your or naps during the day. If necessary, force house and turn out the lights, or at least turn down yourself to stay awake until lights out or the whatever light sources you can, at least 30 minutes noise dies down. Just do whatever you have to before getting ready to go to sleep. do to stay awake until you are ready and actually wanting to go to sleep. Then you can close your #6 Don’t try to force it. If you go to bed and can’t get to eyes and relax……. sleep within 15 minutes, just get out of bed and do something else until you do start to feel sleepy. #3 Stay out of bed until you’re ready to sleep. In many Don’t get frustrated – that’s about the worst thing you situations, your bunk may be your desk, your could do. Remember, it’s not that big a deal if you couch, or your kitchen. But if there is any way don’t go to sleep right away. You won’t go crazy if possible, you should not lie down on your bunk you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have a unless/until you are ready to sleep. If you have to breakdown, you won’t feel horrible………sooner or use your bunk to sit on, be sure you sit on it only, later, you will go to sleep. It may not be until and don’t lie on it when you have no intention of 2:00a.m., but that’s okay. Don’t add that to your list going to sleep. Ideally, your bed should be for of worries -- just get out of bed and read or draw or sex and sleep only, and of course, sex is not do something else until you get sleepy, then get back allowed……. in bed and then you can relax…….