This is the wrong brand of soy milk,” Stacey Greene snapped at her husband when he returned home from the store. “It wasn’t that big of a deal,” she recalls. “I was just so exhausted from another night of staring at the ceiling instead of sleeping that I was a moody, tired monster.
Barely Hanging On
“I assumed the tossing and turning that began a little more than four years ago was due to hormonal changes brought on by the onset of menopause. Night after night, I went to bed hoping, willing and praying that would be the night I’d get a solid six or seven hours of sleep. But I constantly woke in the middle of the night, unable to return to sleep for several hours — or at all — and I grew weary I’d ever sleep soundly again.
“My sleep deprivation affected my work as a writer and made me irritable, picking fights with my patient husband and being uncharacteristically impatient with my kids. Once, I flew into a rage about a dish one of my kids left in the sink. Moments, hours and even days later, I’d feel extremely guilty for being so irrational with those I love, but I was stuck in a vicious cycle of exhaustion with no end in sight.
“At my physical in 2019, I discussed my sleep troubles with my doctor, hoping she might have some suggestions beyond limiting caffeine, eating a healthy diet and getting exercise, which all failed to help me.
“My doctor said I was healthy and didn’t have any obvious reasons for my sleeplessness. She discussed my sleep patterns, and her only recommendation was that I participate in a sleep study. I refused that option because I knew it would likely lead to her recommending I use a CPAP machine. Many of my friends who use a CPAP say they’re unable to sleep because the headsets are uncomfortable, and their husbands hate the loud and obtrusive machine, so they don’t use it. I didn’t want to waste my time with a sleep study because I wasn’t open to a CPAP machine.
“I was so frustrated as to why I couldn’t ‘turn off’ and fall asleep or stay asleep. I started worrying that I’d never sleep well again, which only compounded my frustration. Finally, one night as I tossed and turned, mulling over how crabby I had been to my husband, I’d had enough. There has to be a way to sleep better, I thought unwilling to accept dragging myself through my day and constantly snapping at my family.
A Surprising Remedy
“So I went to a functional medicine doctor, looking for alternative remedies. She explained that even though I had sleep-promoting lifestyle habits and spent plenty of time outdoors, which can help regulate circadian rhythms and lead to quality sleep, I might not be producing enough melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin production increases with evening darkness, promoting healthy sleep. She told me low levels of melatonin could disrupt sleep, making it hard to stay asleep throughout the night.
“Saliva and blood tests confirmed I had lower than normal levels of melatonin, and she prescribed melatonin supplements, but I was hesitant to take something that could alter my body’s hormone production. Then she suggested another option: boosting melatonin by wearing red glasses each night for about two hours before bed. She said red lenses are better at blocking blue light from electronics and LED and fluorescent lights, all of which can interfere with melatonin production. Additionally, red lenses can help reduce eyestrain, which can cause sleep disturbances.
“I hadn’t heard of red glasses, or their benefits for promoting sleep, but I was ready to try anything natural. I went home, and after a quick search on Amazon, I chose an inexpensive brand that cost about $40 (Buy on Amazon, $39.99). I popped them on the evening they arrived, unsure what to expect as I wore the glasses around the house for two hours before bed. That night, I slept for a little more than five hours before stirring in the early morning. That was the most I had slept at once in several months.
“That morning, I was encouraged I might have finally found the secret to once again sleeping soundly, and I couldn’t wait to test out the glasses again. Within a week, I was sleeping six to seven hours, and I was hooked on these glasses that I still wear religiously! I couldn’t believe something so simple could help restore harmony in my family, plus bring clarity that helps my creativity when writing. My snippy retorts and cranky mood were replaced with interest in conversations, laughter and rationality. These glasses gave me back my life!”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First For Women.
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