Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Helpful Hints

How to Sleep Better Without Pills

This is by request. A disclaimer: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking over-the-counter sleep aids. Heck, I used to take Benadryl every day as a child during allergy season; it’s not like taking Seconal or something. And drinking alcohol before bed is much worse on your sleep patterns than these kinds of medications. However, there are some relatively easy tricks for sleeping better—with or without medications. Most people know that you should have a quiet, cool, dark, comfortable place to sleep. Here are a few things that you may not know: Don’t watch TV in bed, even if you think it lulls you to sleep. Don’t read in bed if you can’t sleep; get up and sit in a chair. Don’t toss and turn if you can’t sleep; get out of bed and do something boring for a while. If you have a snoring bed partner, get a white noise machine. If your problem is waking up in the middle of the night, trying going to bed a half hour later than usual. And here’s one that many people resist: cover up your clock or turn it to the wall so that you can’t tell what time it when you wake up in the middle of the night. If you check the time, you get anxious, and then you really can’t get back to sleep. Finally, if you are taking something to get to sleep every night and want to stop, you should go cold turkey and expect to have 3-4 rough nights before you’re back to normal.

How To Childproof on the Fly

Releasable zip ties. (I have no idea if that’s a good website, I was just too lazy to get a good picture of them myself.) Discovering these was like finding the internet, only less exciting. With a little imagination, you can use these to fashion a way to keep a toddler out of all kinds of things when you’re in a hotel room, visiting childfree friends, etc. I used to keep a pack of them in my suitcase. I still have one around the knobs of the liquor cabinet. (I figure anyone who’s too drunk to operate the release has probably had enough. There’s plenty of beer in the fridge if you’re that desperate.) They’re also good for managing computer cables, keys … make your own magic!

How To Connect Almost Anything to Almost Anything

Non-releasable zip ties. These made it possible for me to put baby gates on our impossibly narrow stairs (gates that lasted years and endured much abuse without failing, despite my husband’s initial skepticism), and they are astoundingly strong. They also facilitated one of my most ingenious solutions:

How To Keep From Losing Tiny Remote Controls

Is this not cool? You can use anything large and squishy. (Note: I do not advise using a cat. A particularly well-trained dog might suffice.) I started out with rubber bands, but for some reason children must put asunder what a rubber band hath joined together.

How To Put Eye Drops Into Uncooperative Eyes

Some of us could pour a shot of Jim Beam into our eyes, but some—e.g., many children, my husband—blink and squirm and freak out over one or two drops of anything. The trick is simple: lie on one’s back with eyes closed, put the drops in the corner of the eye (making a little pool), and then open the eyes. (Gratuitous doctor’s soapbox proclamation: Antibiotic drops for “pink eye”? 99 percent of the time useless—and occasionally allergic reaction-producing. I know we all grew up doing it, but almost all pink eye—especially if it’s bilateral—is viral, usually a cold virus. And it’s no more or less contagious than a cold.)

How To Stop a Nosebleed

You can find that here—an oldy but bloody goody.

How To Keep Cats from Jumping on Your Head To Wake Up and Feed Them

Cats can understand cause and effect, but only up to a point; too many steps in a process and their fuzzy little heads start to hurt. If upon arising you immediately feed them, they will learn to wake you up, and often in creative ways. If you separate getting up and filling the bowls by more than, say, two steps, they will eventually forget that the two occurrences might be connected.

And finally: a picture in which you can see my own personal stomach-sleeping-preventing bumper:

(Levitating child not included.)


Anonymous said...

I hope you post more of these, and soon. You have the best random advice.

Unknown said...

I've had peds attendings pooh-pooh that eye drop advice when they've heard me giving it to patients with uncooperative toddlers (or older!) - I think people assume not enough will get into your eye or something. My response is - it's always worked for me. Yes, I still use the eyes-closed eye drops method. It still works. :)
Love the remote-attached-to-stuff idea.

Linda said...

I love the remote idea! And a hearty amen to the rubber bands. What is it with kids and rubber bands?

I use all the sleep advice and still sleep terribly. Sarge has this awesome clock that turns its display off and will only turn on if you wave at it. Despite his CPAP machine, the man still snores incredibly so he spends more nights in the guest room than not (sad.) And I still sleep badly. I'm starting to think I have a real problem.


Linda said...

Oh, PS! I have been an evenagelist for toe-butt-vagina cream since using it to good effecton Sam. Most of my friends were skepitcal but willing to give it a try if it meant avoiding a doctor's visit. Love your tips!

Elizabeth said...

I can improve on your tip for not having the cats wake you in the morning.

1. Feed the cats in the evening before you go to bed.
2. In the morning, when you get up, take away the food dishes (leave the water, in case that wasn't obvious). Give them back in the evening, or even at midday if you're home.

It will take a very short time before the cats actively avoid waking you up.

blidgett said...

I'm trying the cat feeding tip with my dog. He usually whines in my ear until I get out of bed-good times.

Also, my security word is "ingties" which I think is a great name for "zipties."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the sleep advice! I didn't mention one nice side effect of relying on pills to sleep: you can EFFORTLESSLY stay up all night, without fatigue, if you skip the pill.

It's like a magical superpower you can use when your schedule gets jammed up and you have to complete a project on a tight deadline: just stay up all night and do it.

You don't even really feel fatigue the next day. It's kind of great.

Still, I'd trade my superpower for natural sleep any day. -victoria

E. said...

I, too, love your random advice. The ziptie-remote-saddle for squishy creature is fucking brilliant. Now I just need to find little remote-controlled beeping modules to attach to my glasses, keys, and wallet so I can find them by remote control when I misplace them. I use this function so often with my cordless phones and often wish more stuff had it.

winecat said...

Oh DrMama, thanks for the sleeping tips. My husband is a horrible sleeper, his mother had the house ABSOLUTELY SILENT most of the time and as an only he didn't get the benefit of having sibs running around while he was napping.

Add to that I have sleep apnea and sometimes forget to use my bipap machine.

I did ban the tv from the bedroom long ago but still read in bed if I wake up in the middle of the night.
Can you explain why this is not a good idea? I'm curious.

winecat said...

Forgot to say OMG the levitating child is growing like a weed! And looks to be having a great deal of fun.

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Unknown said...

Burned out lawyer just popping in to say that I've been following your SLOW running advice, on the light packed snow, and it feels great! Awesome way to burn off stress and continue my battle to defeat the 3 am project deadline/case status demons.

Thanks! Great blog.