There is something I’ve been struggling with for quite some time, years actually. This problem is, in not so many words, a sleep problem. Basically, I can’t actually fall asleep or stay asleep. I’ve always had issues falling asleep, and I’ve always been jealous of the hubs who can literally sit on the couch, close his eyes, and take a perfect 30 minute nap.
In addition to having trouble sleeping, I have a long history of having nightmares. Bad nightmares. As a child, I had a recurring nightmare about a train so often that when I hear a train as an adult, it still gives me a bit of anxiety.
When I had my twins, the nightmares really came in full force with such intensity that even I was taken aback by it. I had dreams of horrible things happening to them. A few weeks ago, I literally shot straight out bed because I had a dream my daughter crawled into an elevator and it closed and went down before I could get to her. That experience led me to try to really conquer this problem. I’ve always had nightmares, but they’ve never caused me to physically shoot out of my bed before. Plus, even though my kids were sleeping through the night, I wasn’t.
I’d wake up with my sheets and blankets all twisted and strewn about, and I was keeping my husband awake too. All of this plus our intense work schedules made me groggy, anxious, and just plain short tempered and annoyed with everyone around me. I’d walk through the grocery store so sleep deprived and want to just ram my grocery cart into every person who seemed to just be dilly dallying. I know it doesn’t paint the prettiest picture of me, but it’s true. A lack of sleep makes you a grumpy person.
THE ANSWER: DISCIPLINE
I’ve been reading parenting books lately on discipline and also some advice of other entrepreneurs who work from home. Parenting books really stress keeping kids on a schedule, and something about reading that reminded me that we sleep trained both our twins by having the same routine every night.
Ever since we brought them home from the hospital, we’ve bathed them every night, we’ve put the same lotion on them, turned on the same white noise, at the same time, every day. At 15 months old, they know when they get into the bathtub what is coming next. They know when they smell the same lotion that they are going to get their pajamas on next. By the time they make it into their beds, they know they will be staying there the whole night.
So I thought, if it worked for my kids, why wouldn’t it work for me? I know I needed to go to bed earlier in order to make it all work, so I decided to try to go to bed at 11 instead of at 12. At 10, I took melatonin and started to wrap up my work. At 10:30 I took a bath with a glass of wine. At 10:50 I was in my bed with my book. By 11, I was out. Gone. Finished. And I slept all night.
I’ve repeated this routine all week and only had to break it once, last night actually when I stayed up until 1 AM working on a deadline. But, I still did the same thing even though it was 1 AM. I took a smaller dose of melatonin just about 30 minutes before finishing my writing. I took a bath in the middle of the night, got in bed, and couldn’t even keep my eyes open enough to look at my book.
This morning, despite going to bed so late, I was up at 6:30 drinking tea and reading a magazine. I cleaned the dishes I didn’t get to last night because I was working. I went to the grocery and cleaned up and by the time my nanny got here at 9 AM, I was ready to work. Now I’m sure I’ll be pretty tired by the afternoon, but that’s okay. The point is that I’m trying. I seem to be sleeping more soundly, and I haven’t had a nightmare all week.
Everyone says that you should take care of yourself first before others, especially as a parent because when you’re not feeling well, it affects everyone else. I think I let this go on too long, this issue. Even after just a week of concentrated effort, I’m starting to feel much more like myself. I’m feeling like my nicer, more patient self. And I’m hoping that person is here to stay.
Have you ever had a sleep problem before? How did you conquer it?