Tag Archives: sleep

What To Do When You Can’t Sleep

relax-surf-board

I adore sleep. Resting in a gentle cocoon of blankets. Shielding me from my to-do list. When I’m asleep, I completely let go, float, and ride the easy waves of my breath.

Is your sleep always this peaceful and restful? About once a year, I go through a month of insomnia. I look for causes, maybe it’s allergies, stress, overworking, or hormonal changes. No matter what I try, I still wake up in the middle of the night, unable to return to sleep.

Insomnia-Worry-Go-Round

I could easily get stuck on the insomnia-worry-go round. Instead of worrying about never getting another good night of sleep, I am working on accepting the way it is. I’ve decided it’s my body’s way of resetting my brain (and maybe my life).

I’m choosing a new way to think about insomnia. Because the more I worry about it, the more awake I stay. When my mind is racing, my body has a hard time relaxing.

Worry is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia. Once you have trouble sleeping, you usually start to worry about not sleeping. You can see how hard it can be to get off the worry-go-round once you start spinning.

7 Ways to Manage Worry about Insomnia:

It’s time to get off the worry-go-round, and find your personal way of embracing what is. If you have great sleep hygiene but are unable to drift back to sleep, what do you do?

  • Get out of bed and read a novel in dim light. When you feel yourself start to drift off, return to bed.
  • Stay in bed and practice deep breathing, meditation, or calming yoga poses.
  • Find something relaxing to do for 8 hours while fasting from electronic devices. No cleaning, work, texting, etc.
  • Don’t watch your clock tick, calculating how many hours until work or school starts.
  • For a morning pick me up, drink less coffee. Instead give green teaa try.
  • Know that your sleep will return. Remember, this too will pass.
  • If your insomnia doesn’t pass, it’s okay to consult your physician regarding sleep aids. There are medications and supplements that won’t add to your next day fatigue and drowsiness.

Although I love to get a restful night of sleep, I know I can’t force it to happen. Instead of focusing on what if I never sleep well again, I focus on drifting on waves of relaxation.

What helps you manage your worry about insomnia?

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Photo Credit: “Relax” by Scarleth White

What Not to Do: When Your Child Fears the Dark

Cozy in my soft blanket, I let go until dawn’s first light. Expecting a good night of sleep to renew and exhilarate me.

That is, until someone wakes me up. I startle at the sight of my youngest child, standing by my bed. He looks at me through half-opened eyes in the dark night. He tells me, “I’m here.”

I reach out to check his forehead for any signs of a fever, as I ask him “Are you sick?” My son replies quietly, “No, can I sleep with you?” I am groggy with the desire to drift peacefully back to sleep. After a pause, I pull him up onto our bed, and respond with, “Okay, just this once.”

Fear Grows in the Dark

This began a month long struggle of my 3-year-old son waking me up in the middle of the night. My child, who began sleeping through the night at 7-weeks-old was no longer sleeping soundly. He was suddenly afraid of the dark.

After several nights of trying to coax him to stay all night in his own bed, I was growing weary and frustrated. When I’m tired, I get much less effective as a parent. I mistakenly thought I could plead, beg, and remind him to sleep in his own bed.

Have you ever begged your kid to solve their own problems? It doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s not what you do as a parent, it’s what you don’t do that fosters problem solving. (It took me several weeks to remember this, and I’m the “expert.”)

Pick on a Problem and It Will Grow

First, I did research on children who fear the dark. We went to the library and checked out loads of books on the topic. One of my favorite children’s book is The Monster Who Ate the Darkness  by Joyce Dunbar.

It’s about a little monster who is lonely, so he eats up all the darkness, hidden and seen. But no one can sleep, including a little boy who is afraid of the dark. The monster decides to release the darkness back into the world. In doing so, he finds comfort in covering the little boy in a blanket of darkness. Peaceful sleep is found in the cradle of darkness’ arms.

Second, I tried reassuring my son with my wisdom and wit. Reminding him that there are fun things about being in the dark, like lightning bugs, campfires, and flashlight tag. All my reassurance and research wasn’t working, he was still convinced that something scary creeps into his room at night.

The more I fretted about not getting a good night’s sleep, the more I tried to be responsible for abolishing my son’s fear. I had forgotten that fear is normal, and it can pass. That is, if I can stop picking at it!

The Choice That Liberates Fears

The more I took care of his fear, the more he needed me. I discovered a choice that liberated me from being held hostage to his fear. The choice not to be responsible for his sleep. Instead, I can manage my sleep deprived self.

I began defining myself, instead of defining my son. I stopped laying down with him. And, I stopped letting him lay down in our bed. Instead, I told him, “you can’t sleep in mommy’s bed.” When he showed up after dark, I reassured him that he is safe, and quickly took him back to his bed.

While it took him a month to realize he is safe in his room at night, he now proudly boasts, “I am not afraid of the dark now.” It seems the less “helpful” I am, the more my kids help themselves.

Children Are Not As Fragile As We Think

We want the best for our children, but sometimes doing for them undercuts their growth. Treat others as capable, and they will eventually shine their way through the dark.

When do you not do something for your child?

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Photo Credit: “Dreaming Children” by Raul A

5 Ways to Prepare for Sleep

asleep-on-subway Over 1/2 of America’s adults experience insomnia at least a few nights a week!*

Do you toss and turn? Wake up often during the night? Have trouble turning your brain off at night? Wake up early without falling back to sleep? If yes, then you are probably one of the 50% who experience occasional insomnia.

I’m going to share how I prepare myself to be sleepy, so I can surrender to sleep. Like half of the Americans, I too experience occasional insomnia. I have learned to be less anxious about not sleeping well on occasion. I see it as a time to catch up on my reading! Before I share what works for me, let me first explore what contributes to insomnia.

Why can’t we sleep?

Is it emotions? Is it overworking? Is it a poor diet? Is it substance related? Is it hormones? The answer could include any or all of these triggers. For example, Joe is unable to get a restful night of sleep since his mother died. He’s been working late to pay for the funeral costs. And, he’s worried about his Dad being alone. Joe finds himself drinking a few cocktails to wind down. He starts out sleepy, yet wakes up often. In the morning, Joe is still tired and has to start the cycle all over again.

Sleep deprivation can definitely lead to more insomnia. The more tired you are, the more tense you are. The more tense you are during the day, the more you can’t relax at night. The more you worry about not being able to sleep, the more you can’t fall asleep. Joe, and many Americans, are caught in a vicious cycle.

What can we do to break the insomnia – sleep deprivation cycle?

How can we get sleepy?

The frustrating thing about sleep is you cannot force it to happen. The good news is you can invite sleep. We prepare for everything else in life, why not sleep? You can prepare to be sleepy by establishing a bedtime routine and/or incorporating daytime relaxation. Here are 5 practical sleep ideas that have worked for me in preparing to be sleepy:

1. Establish regular sleep and wake patterns. Try to get up and go to bed around the same time each night. This helps set your internal clock. Eventually, your body will naturally get tired at the same time each night.

2. Do something relaxing before going to bed. Turn down the lights, read a good book, take a bath, watch a funny movie, etc. Avoid stimulating activities and substances, such as exercise and homework right before bed.

3. Don’t worry or work in bed. If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and find a quiet, relaxing activity to do in a dimly lit room. The more time you spend in bed, the more likely your sleep will be disruptive.

4. Take a break. Whether you stay home or work out of the home, down time for both mind and body can improve your ability to relax and let go at bedtime. Experiment with different relaxation and breathing techniques to find what works for you. Try mini-moves by sounder sleep system for breathing techniques to be used for daytime and nighttime relaxation.

5. Get some exercise.  Whether you prefer yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, running, or aerobics, it doesn’t matter.  Your body will be tired and invite the still and heavy feeling that comes with sleep.  Remember, exercising to close to your regular bedtime can be too energizing, so find the best time for you to move your body.

There is nothing like a good night of sleep!  Feeling refreshed and energized is a great way to start a new day.  Yet, in our fast-paced society, many individuals are sleep deprived and/or have trouble sleeping well. If you need an alarm to wake up in the morning or sleep in on the weekends, you may be functioning out of a sleep debt.

Now, it’s your turn to make a sleep deposit. Which of these 5 ways helps you prepare to be sleepy? Or, add your own ideas. Share when you get your best, most restful night of sleep.

*National Sleep Foundation polls