Thank you to everyone who commented on Four Tips for Better Sleep. I’m not alone! I struggle with sleep, and it’s easy to feel like I’m the only one who is up in the middle of the night feeling miserable. Apparently there are quite a few of us.
My doctor explained to me that there are three phases in the process of waking: Asleep, Aware, Awake.
This understanding helps me get more sleep. Now I recognize when I’m just beginning to become aware. My eyes may not be open yet, and I’m still in a very restful state. If I can resist the urge to begin actively thinking about anything specific, and if I can avoid moving too much, getting up to go to the bathroom, or even looking at the clock, I can often drift back down into sleep.
Once I let myself move into being fully awake, it is much harder to get back to sleep. In the past I’ve forced myself to lie in bed, waiting for sleep to return, but in the process of writing this post and Four Tips for Better Sleep, I read several times that if you are still lying awake after twenty minutes, it’s best to get up and do something relaxing, like read or listen to music.
Last night between the hours of 2:00 am and 4:00 am, I had time to contemplate a follow-up post on sleep. As is typical for me, I fell asleep within five minutes of turning off the light. Unfortunately, when Russ came to bed more than two hours later, I woke up a little, then a little more, and finally I was wide awake.
After lying in bed for a time, I pulled on a hoodie and some fuzzy socks (thanks Amy C.), grabbed my pillow, and headed downstairs. I resisted the urge to turn on my computer, knowing that the blue light from the screen would make it even more difficult for me to fall asleep (see below), so I read until I was reasonably sure I could drift off.
Here are a few more things that help me sleep:
1. A Notebook
When I’m having a hard time slowing down at night, my mind jumps from one thing to another, mostly things I need to do. I keep a small tablet on my nightstand and write things down as they come to mind, that way I can let them go rather than try to hold them in my mind so I won’t forget by the next morning.
2. Giving Thanks
Often when I turn out the light, I consciously think through the day and give thanks to God for things, big and small. It helps to close my day with a thankful heart and I often drift off in the midst of my reflections.
3. Repeating Truth
In times of severe stress, when it is hard to pray with complete thoughts, I often repeat simple truths to myself as I’m going to sleep.
“I am safe. I am loved.”
“Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”
“Nothing can separate me from the love of God.”
And the ancient prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
Sometimes I chance the last words from “a sinner,” to “your child.”
4. Eliminating Blue Light from Screens
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A few of you mentioned wearing orange-tinted glasses to block the blue light from the computer screen or phone in the evening. Here is a great article explaining the potential benefits. I’m ordering a pair for Russ today; at $8 they are worth a try.
Samuel has the Twilight app on his android phone which filters the blue light and gives a soft red filter. F.lux is a similar app for apple devices.
In general, I avoid the computer at night because I either keep writing and working, or I drift into serious time-wasting. But for folks who like to be on their computers or phones in the evening, this is an inexpensive tool to try.
5. Lazy Baby/Child Care
Some of you are still blessed with babies and young children. Back in the days when we had babies, I became a master of nursing in bed while sleeping. In the days before co-sleepers, Russ made one for me using a porta-crib. I don’t know how I would have managed so many years of mothering if I had actually gotten up to nurse. Even with Wogauyu who was bottle-fed, I fed him in bed and snuggled him, then shifted him back over into his little bed that was attached to ours.
Up until this year, we kept a couple sleeping bags in our room and rolled them out when we went to bed. The children were welcome to sleep there, but they were taught to only wake us if necessary. I’m certain this allowed us to get many extra hours of sleep.
What would you add to this list? I love this discussion; please keep the comments coming!
encourage one another,
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