I’m a relatively recent inductee to the Insomniacs Club.
Up until about a year ago I easily slept 8 hours every night. No wake ups, no problem going back to sleep if I did wake up.
Things haven’t been quite so splendid of late and I recently did battle with major sleep problems that began to seriously affect my ability to operate in the capacity of a full functioning human. So last night was an epic win for me to sleep 8 1/2 hours straight without waking up once. Not once!
And to anyone who has struggled with sleep issues I now have the deepest empathy and compassion for the agony that sleeplessness can cause. And not just the crazy brain that builds to a deafening scream in your head in the middle of the night, but also for the lack of patience, lack of emotional control, the exhaustion, the never being your best or feeling your best or feeling like you’re living as the person that you really are.
As a mom and as an entrepreneur sleep is vital for me to operate in a productive and compassionate (both to myself and others) way. Without sleep the entire machine that is my life grinds to a complete halt and the resulting fall out is overwhelm on all fronts. I haven’t got time for that shit. Nor do I care to spend time in that place if something can be done about it.
We need sleep. Period. Studies show less than 7 hours of sleep on a consistent basis has the same symptoms as being drunk on alcohol. But beyond that, it makes day to day living an incredible challenge when you’re foggy and irritable. You’re more prone to stress which leads to eating poorly which leads to inflammation which leads to all kids of other health issues!
But for those of you looking for techniques to try to help encourage sleeping here’s a few you can practice to help wind things down before bed. Do them with your kids.
Lay on the floor with your legs up against the wall in an L position Hold it for about 5 – 10 minutes. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system and moves the body and mind into sleep in a more relaxed state.
Lavender works well for releasing anxiety. You can add it to your bath, sprinkle it on a tissue and place it under your pillow or use a diffuser. It increases slow-wave sleep which is responsible for slowing the heartbeat and relaxing the muscles.
Turn off you electrical devices and television 2 hours before you hit the sheets. That means you need to go dark by about 8 pm in order to be in bed and a sleep ready state by 10 pm (which is what’s recommended). On a side note I have a friend that swears she sleeps better when she unplugs her router… just sayin’!
I’ve used the no electronics with some degree of success in that when I am religious about turning them off, it makes an incredible difference. That said, I can get caught up texting after getting into bed which generally leaves me revved up and makes sleep more difficult.
But the thing that has made the most significant impact for me is… ear plugs! I really need no noise and a dark room for optimum sleep. My partner Cordell can sleep through anything for many, many, many hours in a row while I wake up at the sound of a pin dropping, especially since becoming a mom. On those nights when my daughter wakes up or calls out in her sleep in the middle of the night I’m instantly awake, attention focused, ears perked, adrenalin flowing. I’m in mom-mode and I’m awake, then the whole insomniac brain goes off and I’m done with sleep for the night. Ear plugs help filter out the false alarms and allow me to sleep through this night.
Another weird thing that works for me is sleeping with a pillow over my head. I’ve been doing since my first year in university. I developed it as a way to drown out the din of a residence of 800 women. It sounds a little weird but the sensory depravation and sound blocking does wonders! And when I added the ear plugs to the mix, it was like a miracle happened. Sometimes Cord is even out of bed now before I’ve fully awoken to the sound of our daughter. I still hear her, it’s just that sometimes Cord hears her first. (And that’s a miracle!)
I find that if I follow some of these simple things sleep actually happens and my whole sense of well being shifts. So, this is me, celebrating 81/2 hours in a row! I have no idea what will happen tonight but today I feel amazing!
I’m very intertested in hearing from anyone else who does battle with sleep and what works for you. Let me know. I’d love to hear!