Sleep, The Final Frontier

Clearly this baby isn’t me. For one, it’s sleeping.
Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

The other day my mom shared a story with me. When I was a baby they needed to have me sleep in a different place for the night. I was just old enough to climb up and peek out of the crib, which, while adorable, can quickly turn into a parent’s nightmare when several hours pass and baby still refuses to lay down and asleep. Apparently I didn’t sleep the entire night and stood peeking out of the crib waiting to be rescued.

Knowing my tendencies, that doesn’t surprise me one bit. Growing up, I was the kid who was always the last to fall asleep at sleepovers, if I slept at all. I never could sleep well when camping, and the first night in a hotel anywhere meant a night of tossing and turning.

Everyone agrees that sleep is important. A bad night’s sleep can wreck an entire day. It cuts back productivity, drains energy, and makes us less able to cope well with stressful situations.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

As an adult, and especially as a parent, I’ve hit new exciting milestones of being tired that I’d never imagined. One day, when it had been several weeks since I’d had a decent nights sleep due to not one, not two, but three kids taking turns keeping me awake at night, I forgot how stoplights worked and who’s turn it was. I had no clue which way I needed to look to make sure I wouldn’t be plowed into.

That marked a turning point in my adult life to start learning how to get better sleep. I studied every article I could get my hands on to learn about scheduling, meditation, exercise, vitamins and supplements. I became more proactive about my kids sleep schedules and my expectations for them to stay in bed. I took back my night.

Most nights at least are okay these days.

It’s turned into a delicate balancing act. If I haven’t had my walk that day. or if it’s fall or winter and I haven’t used my happy light enough, or if I’ve forgotten to take my vitamins, or if I’ve got a lot on my mind or an unresolved problem, those bad nights still come, but much further apart than they used to.

My attitude about having a bad night has changed as well. Now it means I can go down to my office and spend a few hours working at my computer or reading in the silence of a sleeping house. Sometimes I catch up on YouTube videos.

I wouldn’t wish poor sleep on anyone. It’s disruptive, it means I’m tired during the day, and sometimes it makes me angry. But, had it not been for insomnia, I wouldn’t have turned into a voracious reader as a kid. When you’re too tired to cause havoc around the house, reading is a great alternative.

I’d even go as far as saying that if I didn’t have insomnia, I wouldn’t be a writer today.

If you find yourself struggling with sleep, I totally understand. There’s no easy solution and I wish there was. But, there are things that can help and it’s worth it to learn about your specific needs then make steps to work toward better sleep.

How do you feel about sleep? Do you sleep easily, or do you struggle? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


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A Case of the Grumpies

Today is one of those days where my “Get up and GO!” got up and went.  Here in Utah we’ve entered another ice age, the temperatures haven’t even gotten close to above freezing for over a week.  Even with the heat on, the air inside the house holds a chill and all I want to do is curl up under a blanket with a book and a cocoa and wait it out.

And that’s not an option when you have three kids, one of which is teething.

One of the best feelings in the world is waking up in a warm bed and not having to get out of it for a bit longer.  Now imagine having to get out of it over an over again during the course of the night to comfort a teething toddler who sleeps on a different floor.  For the last few nights we’ve done the teething toddler tango, and for everyone’s sake I hope that we’re nearly done.

clipsnow14

Sleep deprivation is only part of the reason I’m grumpy. The other reason comes in two very rambunctious packages called older brother and sister.  Maybe I’m wrong to assume that most kids like sleeping in, especially on school days.  Today, my oldest woke before seven and proceeded to make enough noise to wake up the other kids.  This kid can do nothing quietly, he’s even sings and stomps his feet when he brushes his teeth.

It’s like living in a crazy house.  

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, is torture.  We are on a schedule to get to school on time.  I can’t have them waiting full minutes between bites all while kicking and fighting each other, or worse ganging up on who can make me more angry.  The Benedictine monks had the right idea to eat their meals in silence. Where can I sign up to be one?

Even now, while I’m venting writing this I have a cute little girl at my elbow talking at me about what she doesn’t want to do. I’ve given her dozens of different fun ideas to keep her amused, but because I’m the one suggesting them she won’t do them.  Which is all the more frustrating because she’s the one coming to me asking what she can do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the little ankle biters.  They have made me what I am today. I am fearless because of them. I have gained an immense inner strength that couldn’t have developed any other way because of them.

And, I flirt with total insanity every day.  No, really, this veneer of calm you see is a thin sheet of ice that is one tap away from shattering.

I think today momma gets a nap.

Dreamland

2817775_origEven as a child I was a very vivid dreamer.  Perhaps it was because I was fairly rotten sleeper and prone to awaking easy.  Some of the dreams came and went in chapters, with part one happening before a waking spell and part two after I’d fallen back asleep.  Some resulted from the book I had been reading before shutting off the light.  Some were terrifying, others exhilarating.

Lately I’ve experienced an upturn in recallable dreams, I blame my little ones for calling out at night and interrupting my sleep cycle.  Although there are plenty of nights where they’re quiet and I still find myself waking for no good reason.  Cursed insomnia.

In one of my recent dreams I had to do a dance audition using a shopping cart as a prop. Although I feel I failed the audition they made me a part of special ops anyway. What dancing has to do with a military position is beyond me.  The rest of the dream was full of running and hiding and trying to find our target.

In another dream I was supposed to take a written test for something important, in dreams it’s always important.  However, every time I would look away from the paper, the question would change or be missing.  Then, I would madly shuffle through the papers to find where I was at only to forget what I was looking for.  After what seemed like hours of doing this cycle over and over, I went for help from the test administrator only to wake up before finding a solution.  At least in this school dream I was allowed to keep my clothes on.

Dreaming is a great escape, it allows us to explore areas of our subconscious that we otherwise would never have access.  Emotions are stronger, stakes are higher, and anything is possible.  Sometimes we can find solutions to problems, sometimes we gain a greater understanding of ourselves, sometimes we are left even more confused than when we started.

Now if I could just solve my insomnia problems and get back to it!

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Hey, check it out!  A fellow writing friend of mine has started blogging on WordPress.  You can find her at The Library Lady and Rosie Bear.  Go check her out, leave a comment, and follow if you like what you see.