For years I have dealt with sleep issues on and off. Not a lot of people know, a few do. For me, sleep is like a wave… sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s not. It’s like I’m pulled back into the ocean and it is so frustrating, it’s like not being able to swim out there, you go under and try to get up and hope the next night is better.
In my situation I have sleep anxiety which keeps me from being able to fall asleep… I lay there and just think and think about the most random things. For years I had no idea what to do about it. I tried all different kinds of medicine, nothing worked. I went to a sleep clinic but I don’t have sleep apnea so I didn’t qualify. It was frustrating, very frustrating and stressful.
Finally this winter it got bad again, very bad. Night upon night of falling asleep at 4am and feeling like crap the next day. Finally my mom said “you have do do something and get some help for this”. Thank goodness she pushed me because I could not imagine not knowing what to do for another 40 years of my life. After talking with a few people who deal with sleep studies in the Rochester area, I found an sleep therapist and meet with her. I remember not knowing how this could help. But I went to the appointment. Basically, my treatment was Cognitive Behavorial Therapy which involves training your brain to learn how to sleep again. I was not familiar with it and hoped she wasn’t going to tell me to drink warm milk before bed! I get the “sticking to pre-bed hygiene” stuff, don’t drink caffeine or soda and all that but I needed more than that! I don’t drink coffee or soda anyway so it’s not like that was keeping me up!!
For me it was about sleeping a certain amount of hours a night- 7. I have to go to bed at a certain time and wake up at a certain time… 11:30-6:30 worked for me. The goal is to be tired by the time you go to bed. I had to wake up at 6:30 so would be tired by 11:30. I had to keep track of what time I feel asleep, what time I woke up, how many times I got up in the night, how I felt the next day (concentration, mood, etc) if I exercised and drank any alcohol. I had to do this for months, no slacking until I got an extra 15 minutes added on to my sleep. I tacked those onto the morning. All this was so amazingly helpful but one thing that really helped was gaining confidence. I never had that before, I never knew “it was ok if I didn’t sleep great.” For me that confidence is key. It’s made me a stronger person. I just need to remind myself that now that I’ve slipped back into the wave. I need to remind myself of what I learned.
For those who don’t have sleep problems, you don’t know how fortunate you are! My kids know I don’t always sleep well and one day my daughter said to me “mom all you have to do is close your eyes, that’s what I do”! So matter of fact. Oh little girl, if only I had it that easy, if only my mind didn’t ramble on from one thought to the next, always the most random thoughts.
For all those who complain of not sleeping, I can relate and I know how you feel. You are not alone and I know how stressful it is. Like the Little Engine that Could, it can get better! Here’s to a better night! 🙂
Betsy ~ Sunshine On Water