My husband and I were laying in bed. He, drifting off to sleep while I was twitching to get up and be productive. I rolled over and said “you know, sleeping is such a waste of time”. He was in absolute shock. It was as if I called his Ford Mustang the ugliest car in the world, in the meanest way possible. He values sleep like I would value the idea of living on an isolated island surrounded by peaceful ocean waves, palm trees, and no mosquitos – a lot!
Tim can lay down and be asleep within 3-5 minutes – in just about any situation including camping in a hammock, after playing with the kids on the floor, and even on a staircase. Yes, that really happened. If only I could find the photo to show you. He’s not narcoleptic, he’s just chill and relaxed, without a care in the world. Many men are like that. That’s not a familiar scenario for many women. Women are multitaskers, not necessarily a fabulous trait, I’ve learned. Our brain tries its hardest to multitask even when we’re in bed trying to go to sleep or when we wake up in the middle of the night. I thought my inability to fall asleep as quickly as my husband and to be able to stay asleep all night was because I was thinking too much about work, what’s on the agenda the next day, or health.
For me, insomnia began after my car accident. My body changed, hormones and all, causing major changes including the lack of being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. I stayed up for nights on end. Granted, I created some amazing scrapbooks of the kids early years those sleepless nights but I was exhausted after about 72 hours of being awake. And cranky. And completely unproductive. After this bout of sleeplessness happened several times over a 4 month period I talked to my doctor about it. She requested lab tests (hormone, etc) and diagnosed me with chronic insomnia pretty quickly based on the results and my input.
Fast forward several years. Since being diagnosed with and finally accepting I have insomnia and it’s not just my ADHD keeping me awake, I have made changes to my evening routine that help me get to sleep and stay asleep.
Five of my Insomnia Conquering Habits
Keep in mind that my doctor and I have found that doing these things works best for me, but they may not work best for you.
- I turn my iPhone, iPad, and Kindle off after being in bed for 30 minutes. I allow myself to watch a show on my iPad or read a book on my Kindle for 30 minutes. Doing this allows my brain to slow down.
- I turn all the lights of in my bedroom, bathroom and nearby hallway. Even the faintest light can cause trouble when trying to fall asleep.
- I refrain from drinking water after 7pm. I’ve found that when I drink after 7pm, I’m more likely to wake up having to go to the bathroom. Once I’m awake, that’s it.. I’m awake for the rest of the night.
- I am not afraid to take medication to help me get to and stay asleep when needed. I am a much better person when I’ve had 6-8 hours of consistent sleep.
- Don’t worry about sleep. I used to worry about falling asleep quickly and being able to stay asleep. Everyone knows that worry doesn’t usually help a situation so I decided to go with the flow and assume every night I was going to fall asleep and stay asleep.
View the full size, printable PDF here.
As a parent with many daily responsibilities, laying our heads on our pillow and closing our eyes at the end of the day proves to be one of the most important steps we can take to stay healthy and be in top shape ourselves and for our kids. But a new survey shows that on average, nearly three-quarters of Americans are missing out on almost three weeks of sleep per year. Yikes, that comes out to 470 hours! As I entered my adult years, I noticed that lack of sleep was glamorized. Successful friends and peers would boast about how little sleep they got and how busy they were. I was never that type – before my accident. I was the first to fall asleep at slumber parties and never felt like I missed a thing by going to bed early. I wanted to sleep. My parents wanted me to sleep. As you can see from my more recent life history, that hasn’t been the case since my car accident, but people change. Our bodies change and these changes, especially when it comes to lack of sleep, should not be ignored.
Getting a full, uninterrupted night of sleep has many benefits allowing us to put our best foot forward on a daily basis and even proves to boost performance and spur creativity. Our kids need us to be at our best and sleep helps us achieve that. But sleeplessness has become a widespread health issue – with 4 million Americans suffering from chronic insomnia, including difficulty falling asleep and the inability to stay asleep throughout the night.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can incorporate into your daily strategy to improve your sleep, like those I listed above that I’ve incorporated since being diagnosed with insomnia. Exercising early enough in the day to give your heart time to slow down before bedtime, limiting use of technological devices before bed and blocking out light are three important habits to take on if you’re having trouble sleeping. But for people with insomnia practicing these habits alone may not be enough. The good news is no one needs to suffer. There are effective treatment options available without worrying about risk of abuse or physical dependence. The first thing you need to do is have a conversation with your doctor. Tell your doctor how active you are, what your diet is like, and what distractions and worries you might have as well as the symptoms you experience related to sleep or lack of.
To learn more about the importance of getting a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep visit Wanttosleepmore.com