I remember as a teen, I couldn’t get enough sleep. At any opportunity, I would crave my bed for a nap and looked forward to crawling into my bed to watch tv or read. It was never long before the Mr. Sandman would sprinkle his dream dust and I would have imaginative and vivid dreams. Getting up in the morning was always a bone of contention with me and my parents.
When traveling, I could sleep on buses, planes, cars or trains. Put me in a tent and I can sleep no matter what the temperature or what my dogs might be barking to protect me from. One summer, I made my first cross-country drive with my beloved pup Argus from Ohio to California to pick up my sister in Los Angeles. Returning with my sister, we camped in the Badlands one night – a truly remarkable place. When I woke up, imagine my surprise to see my sister, 10 years younger and a better sleeper than me, awake. “Finally!”, she sighed, “It’s an oven in here and we need to get out of here.” I slept like a rock and wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Along came those dreaded chronic illnesses and with them the carefree sleep. Mr. Sandman rarely visits and when he does, my dreams are usually disturbing and fractured. Now I can relate to that children’s story about the princess and the pea. As a kid, I thought it was dumb – how could a pea disturb one’s ability to fall asleep? Now, living in the country with three dogs, laying on a spec of dirt, blade of grass, or heaven forbid – a sliver of wood – sends me into a tailspin. If I turn over and feel it after laying in bed for twenty minutes, I am out of bed and frantically swatting at the sheets.
My biggest issue these days is staying asleep. I start to nod off several times and for some reason, the synapses in my brain pop me awake and I have to get up and get out of bed. I’ve had the sleep study and I’ve determined that they are useless and are just out to sell their sleep apnea machine. Normal treatments and sedatives don’t typically work for me though on some occasions, I get lucky and don’t get up half a dozen times. Sleeping pills rarely work wells, nor do pain meds which I only take when absolutely desperate for relief.
Here are some of my tried and not so true practices. They may not always work but they sure feel good at the time:
- Warm bath with soothing and aromatic bath salts;
- A drop or two of lavender & geranium blend oils under my pillow (more than that has the reverse effect);
- Clean off any foreign matter from pillow and sheets before getting into bed. Also, straighten any wrinkles;
- Make sure no light peaks through the curtains;
- Sometimes I’ll play waves in the ocean or against rocks to soothe my brain though I usually wake up when it’s over;
- Begin from head to toe in each segment of my body, silently tell it to relax. This is a yoga technique that, when done correctly, muscles will actually twitch and move involuntarily as they relax;
- Constantly adjust to a comfortable body temperature. I go from hot to cold to hot so blankets, and clothes at the ready to add or remove as necessary.
I know this is taboo but I enjoy reading or watching tv before bed. It helps me to clear my head before going to sleep. My problem is not overstimulation of outside stimuli but internal. My brain and body are on overdrive much of the time. Reading in bed helps me to shut my brain off and relax my body. If I read in another room, I become agitated again by the time I get into bed. I know it sounds nuts but it’s true.
Here is the craziest thing of all and is not yet proven but is showing some potential. My dear must try to fix everything mom heard about this website called mypillow.com (because she got a coupon for it). She wanted me to check it out. I did and told her to forget it because it was too expensive for a pillow. As I never listen to her, my mom didn’t listen to me since it lists all these amazing miracles on its website. Well, I received my pillow in the mail day before yesterday. Night before last, I slept 9 hours and only woke up once after 5 hours! I got up, went to the bathroom and went back to sleep for another 4 hours. Last night, I did fall asleep and wake up (only once), slept for four hours, then another three hours. Amazing. And I feel good!
Other reasons may explain why my sleep happened to improve the past couple of nights but the only added piece to the equation is my pillow. I’m just grateful that no sheep were miscounted these last two nights.
And Mr. Sandman visited me again last night!
If you suffer from chronic pain or illness, never stop trying to find what works for you. I can help guide you in the right direction. For a free exploratory session, or if you have questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.