DEAR HARRIETTE: I love to sleep. The feeling of comfort after a long day, in my bed, really helps ease my tension. Lately, I have been having difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep. I have tried many natural remedies to try to calm down, but none has worked. My sleep complications don’t happen frequently, but there are days when they do occur. I have been trying to find the root cause of my situation, and I am not sure if I should see a specialist or handle it on my own. Any ideas? -- Sleepless
DEAR SLEEPLESS: Review your daily activities over the next week. Write down what you do, what you eat and drink and how you spend your time. Notice which days you sleep better than others and what happened on those days and evenings. Do you see a pattern that might indicate if your thoughts, mood or actions affect your sleep? If you notice something, adjust that behavior and determine if you are able to change your sleeping through certain modifications.
Turning off the television well before you go to bed, avoiding caffeine and alcohol near bedtime and thinking positive thoughts all help with sound sleep.
If you are not able to identify ways to improve your sleep on your own, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Bring your analysis with you. This will help your doctor to determine what’s happening for you and how to address it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have four nieces and one nephew. In my eyes, they are my babies, and I can’t bear the idea of them growing up. Recently, my older sister was stationed in Seoul, South Korea, since she works in the Air Force. Now that my family is over a thousand miles across the world, I am worried that the kids will forget me. I love them so much, and I am worried that I am losing touch with them. It has been a few months since they moved to Seoul, and I miss them dearly. I do not want to lose our connection as a family. What can I do to strengthen our bonds even though we are miles apart? -- Forgotten Family
DEAR FORGOTTEN FAMILY: Do not despair. The great news is that you can use modern technology to stay in close touch with your family. You will need to set this up with your sister -- unless the children are old enough to do it themselves. You can use WhatsApp to talk to one another for free. You can see each other using the video feature or just talk through the phone feature. You can leave each other voice messages if it’s tough to talk directly due to the time differences.
You may want to establish a set time each week when you talk to the family. Since you have to coordinate your schedules to deal with the time difference, set it up with your sister, and be vigilant about touching base -- even if your engagement is for only a few minutes.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)