I write about insomnia a lot. It has it’s own tag on my blog, it’s an ongoing battle to catch some zzz’s. I came across Caspers 8 Sleep Advice Cards last month and thought I’d put them to the test using the cards to track what's been going on with my the most. I printed them out and each night if I feel the need, I arrange them from my #1 issue down to #8.”
I feel like this will surprise some people, but noise is my biggest hindrance when it comes to sleep. If the fan is on it needs to be turned off, it's too loud. If there is a vehicle outside and it has a certain type of engine, I need to put on music to block him out. If it's too windy outside, I usually end up crying. Wind is the most evilest noise for me. I could almost be asleep and the smallest noise will happen and I'll be awake. Usually I turn to music to help balance it out so I don't notice, but there are some nights were music isn't an option.
Casper recommends ear plugs or white noise. My ears are far to sensitive for ear plugs and I have never tried white noise, but if it's anything that sounds like computers humming or furnaces fans, I won't be a fan. Silence is my preferred way to sleep, though that's not always possible due to the occasional ringing in my ears. My last resort is to head to the living room, dim the TV, and sleep there.
I define anxiety is a racing mind, that won't go into coherent thoughts. My heart is beating insanely fast and if I lay down the world starts spinning. Occasionally, listening to a mediation app will help. Sometimes watching a Youtube mediation video will help, and other times it's up to watch TV. TV is a distraction that will eventually slow it all down.
I've mentioned previously the app I used: Insight Timer. But my favorite YouTube videos are
Guided Sleep Meditation for Insomnia (Sleep, Relaxation, Calm you Mind) by Line Grace - I like watching the video of the never ending road. It's relaxing.
Sleep Hypnosis Mediation - Guided Talk Down for Insomnia by New Horizon - recent find. I haven't made it through the whole thing because it works, at least for now.
#3 Busy Mind
When the thoughts do become coherent enough, it's out of bed to write them all down. Sometimes it's as simple as updating my TO-DO list. Then there's times were the writing takes all night. The all night ones make me wish I had lights and backgrounds to do photo ideas to go with my writing. Sometimes it's hard to get it all done during daylight hours. But on the other hand that would just be another thing keeping me awake at night. So it's probably a good thing I only have the capabilities to write in the middle of the night and not workout or take pictures!
My night time ritual with Kevin of talking, organizing, etc. has really helped with calming my mind before bed. We have also been trying really hard to get into the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday. Which I will talk about a little more later.
I grew up where a bed time snacked happened every night. It was always vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce or some variation of lots of sugar before bed. As an adult, this makes going to bed harder. Cheese, apple sauce, or yogurt are my go to snacks. If I've gone to bed and discovered I'm hungry half an hour later, I'll get up and have one of those three. It needs to satisfy me long enough to get to sleep and it has to be something soft, that won't end up stuck in my teeth. Usually it's a grab the snack, sit at the table in the dark, enjoy it very slowly, then back to bed. If I eat something that gets stuck in my teeth, that back to bed begins racing thoughts on my mouth, taking me to #3 and sometimes #2. We try really hard to not eat in bed. I am a firm believer that bed should be for two things only, sleep and sex.
#5 Not Tired and #6 Discomfort
These two go hand in hand, the truth is we need to replace our mattress. We bought a very firm one four years ago, after spending years sleeping on soft (and very old) mattresses. Because of that we bought too firm and it's not the most comfortable thing to sleep on. We've added a special foam on top that helps, as well as a heated mattress cover, but it's not perfect. One day I hope to upgrade to a king bed, hopefully something like this, with this type of mattress.
For now though we're sticking with what we have. So if I'm not tired, I will never be comfortable and vice versa. This usually means hitting the coach with a book and/or chatting it up with other insomniacs on twitter. Finding other insomniacs has been an interesting thing for me. It's nice not being alone when you can't drift off to sleep. I use hashtag #insomnia a lot and if you are looking for insomniacs communities, check out this article Can't Sleep? Gather with Other Insomniacs at One of These 5 Online Forums.
#7 Sunday Night Insomnia
Kevin and I are naturally night owls. While I love the sunshine, I prefer the calm of night. It's also the best time to play video games. So Friday night comes along, it's been a long week for Kevin so there's no way he wants to go to bed for 10pm. So midnight comes and we finally go to bed, because I am whiny and grumpy. Then we sleep in and do the same thing on Saturday. Sunday night comes along and we're just screwed ourselves over. Rinse, repeat. It gets exhausting doing this. Ten years ago this wasn't a problem, in fact it probably played well with my insomnia. Now though, I just want 8 hours of blissful sleep. It's hard to be an adult on the weekends, but when we do it and don't mess things up it is so worth it.
Lastly #8 Temperature
Since paying our own bills our heat stays at a lovely 75 degrees, that's all day and all night. It's perfect for me, I sleep better with the consistent temperature and so temperature comes up very little when I am struggling to sleep. Take me out of my home though, and if I get cold, I'm wound right tight in my anxiety bubble.
Insomnia is not fun. But at least we have a community of other Insomniacs to talk to and interesting articles to read like, 7 Often-Ignored Upsides of Insomnia or my favorite Why Can't Insomniacs Tell How Much They've Slept.
By believing they don't sleep, people fuel anxiety about the issue, which, in conjunction with increased arousal and emotional upset, actually does interfere with their sleep. It's a fun cycle.
It is a fun cycle and one I would willingly never repeat. How are you sleeping?