The Insomnia Tool Box

I am tired.  I am exhausted.  I am running on HALF my usual amount of sleep, plus two previous nights’ sleep debt.  Grand total: At least a whole 7 hours less than usual in three nights.  I’m a whole night behind.

I say at least because Saturday night we were out late and I didn’t get to bed until four.  I was amped up and barely slept, only dozing fitfully off and on.  I have no idea how much I slept but I estimated it at 4 hours.  I took a nap later.  Sunday night I couldn’t get comfortable.  I tossed and turned for a couple of hours in the middle of the night.  I only slept 5 hours.  Last night I was woken up after a half hour of sleep at 11:30.  I didn’t get back to sleep until after 2.  I woke up at 5 this morning.  That’s 3.5 hours.

And I woke up furious at myself because I know how to handle not being able to sleep.  After my father died, I had a pretty rough time with sleep.  I couldn’t fall asleep when I laid down and/or I woke up for hours in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I woke up at 4 and never went back to sleep.  I just couldn’t.  My mind would wander down the strangest alleys and spiral out of control.  I was worried about everything.  I had panic attacks that woke me from a dead sleep.  Eventually, I had to come up with a plan because I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I came up with these steps, which I do in order.

Rachael’s Insomnia Tool Box

  1. Read.  Even though I know that the light from my Kindle Paperwhite isn’t supposed to be good for promoting sleep, I find that the Kindle is my best choice.  I don’t have to turn on a light so I don’t wake Hubby up.  I don’t have to get out of my warm bed.  I don’t get that frustrated feeling that I am wasting time by just tossing and turning.  Sometimes all it takes is a couple of pages to make me drowsy.  Other times it takes a couple of chapters.  Either way, it distracts me and relaxes me.
  2. Count.  This is another thing that I’ve heard shouldn’t work but that usually works for me.  I’ve read a bit and I’m sleepy again but I can’t quite clear my mind or doze off.  I get comfortable and I count.  I count from 100 to 1 and then from 1 to 100.  If I find that I’ve dozed off and lost my place but woken back up, I start again.  If I’m not asleep by the time I do the two sets, I move on.
  3. Guided sleep meditations.  You Tube is a revolution.  If the previous two things haven’t worked, I find a 30 minute or so guided sleep meditation and let it play.  Almost always this works.  If I am having a problem night after night after night, I’ll run a sleep meditation every night for a week or so right when I go to bed and sometimes that’s enough to fix it.  It’s like probiotics for sleep.
  4. Finally, if I’m still awake and, by this point, very fucking frustrated, I get up.  I move to the couch.  I plump up my pillows and pile on a couple of blankets and hope that the change in scenery is enough to clean the slate.

It is rare that I make it through all of the steps above but it has happened.  The mistake I usually make is not starting them at all.  I find myself wide awake and frustrated and SURE that if I just calm down I’ll fall asleep.  The problem is that I can’t calm down when I get like that, not on my own, not without a book or a meditation or medication (which I can’t have right now because pregnancy).  So, on days like to day I can only blame myself.

Do you have any tricks for getting to sleep?

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