Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the National Sleep Foundation. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
I haven’t been getting enough sleep, and that is so so bad. I know it’s not funny (although that photo is,) but some days I’m pulling my hair out trying to get the sleep I need. Sleep is a huge priority for me and my mental health. HUGE.
Lack of sleep kicks my anxiety into overdrive. I literally feel an immediate uptake in my levels of stress and anxiety on the days that I don’t get enough sleep. Like today for example, I’m feeling agitated, moody and my patience with the kids is zero. I’m more sensitive when things go wrong. A negative comment on Facebook might bring me to tears, and I so hate that. It’s just not me.
I’ve always needed extra sleep. It seriously was my greatest fear when having kids that I’d lose those precious hours of restful bliss and lose my mind. I am not even kidding, ask John. I even talked to my therapist about it quite a deal before getting pregnant. My personal need for sleep is actually more than 8 hours. If I really want to be at my best, 9 or 10 would be much better, and some days I could really go for even more. That’s virtually impossible with young kids without some strategies and support.
If I don’t catch myself soon enough and get the hours of sleep I need, my mind begins to race and insomnia can kick in. It’s a vicious cycle. It starts to take forever to fall asleep. I toss and turn. I wake up unexpectedly and can’t fall back asleep. Have you ever experienced insomnia? It sucks even if you don’t live with mental illness, but for those of us who do, insomnia can be a very quick trigger for a relapse, even for someone who is well treated like me.
With insomnia, which I have had many times over the years, I become at risk for my bipolar symptoms to rear their ugly heads. Sometimes depression, sometimes mania, and once those kick in it’s hard to turn it around. It’s so easy to get to a bad place and so much harder to come out of it. Can you relate? I found this web site Beyond Tired, where others share their own struggles with insomnia and tips for how they get more sleep, like Jana who’s a fellow blogger I know who also manages a freelance business and four kids!
There are so many tips I’ve learned to help fight insomnia. Even small changes can make a big impact so today I’m sharing some of my ideas.
Help for Insomnia Tips
My bedroom environment definitely plays a huge impact on my sleep.
- Room Design/Wall Color. John and I specifically chose a peaceful blue wall color that is restful and non-stimulating. Our initial goal for our master bedroom design was to take us back to the peaceful serenity of our honeymoon on Bora Bora. Ahhhh.
- Light, or the need for no light. Using dark black out type curtains are so helpful. Also for me, I don’t like to have a bright night light when sleeping, so this was actually a big issue when the kids were small. Now that they’re a bit older and don’t need the light to come find us if they need us in the middle of the night, it is MUCH better for me to have no night light.
- Bedding. It’s so important to have bedding that is soft, clean and cozy. We actually need to purchase some new bedding at the moment because ours is getting quite ragged after 11 years. Plus, it’s so important to not be too hot or too cold so changing up bedding during the seasons is important too.
- Noise. I personally prefer a quiet environment for sleeping. I don’t like music or loud fans, but to some people white noise is very helpful. I actually discovered last year when John started using his c-pap machine for sleep apnea that I find the very quiet sound it makes quite soothing. So find what works for you. I have to tell you, John getting that machine was the best present he ever gave me to benefit my sleep. No more snoring!
Maintaining a routine is so important with sleep.
- Naps. I admit, I do like to take naps. But it’s super important for me to not nap in the afternoon unless I really really need to. Some Saturdays I might catch a few extra winks on the couch if John’s around and I know I have Sunday to straighten out my schedule. But afternoon/late naps are terrible for allowing me to fall asleep for the night at a decent hour.
- Schedule. Going to bed late (or in the wee hours of the morning) doesn’t actually enable you to fall asleep faster. Just like kids who get overtired and amped up, I find that when I stay up too late I have an even harder time falling asleep. For me, if I go to sleep before 11pm, it’s best for my sleep.
How can changing your habits with electronics help?
- Shutting down electronics early can help you fall asleep faster. I am so bad at this. Like I said above, I work a lot at night. Plus when I’m not working I enjoy laying in bed reading a book in the Kindle app or watching a show on my iPad. But I need to get better at shutting down early. The screens can be very stimulating.
- Use your night settings. Smartphones these days have a night time setting that makes sure you do not get calls or notifications during certain hours. I have friends on the East Coast (not naming any names!) who just LOVE to text in the wee hours. I always have my phone on vibrate but I can’t tell you how many times those little buzzing notifications have woken me from a deep sleep!
The way we eat can absolutely affect sleep.
- Dietary Triggers. This is something we’ve learned in our family over the past 5 years and it was such a striking discovery for us. I can say without a doubt that removing gluten from our diets has impacted sleep for me, John and Ronin. Maybe it’s not gluten for you. Maybe your body is affected by dairy or caffeine or soy. My point is that if you’re having trouble with sleep and/or anxiety, look into your diet. We saw a great naturopath who helped us test for dietary intolerance and it changed our lives.
Lean on your support system to help get more rest.
- Ask a loved one to let you sleep in once in a while. My husband knows how much I need sleep. After a long week as stay-at-home mom, wife, work-at-home blogger and homemaker I am dreaming of that moment when I can snuggle under the cozy blankets and sleep. But here’s my confession. Come morning I never jump out of bed ready to tackle the day. Never. I always want to sleep more. I told you I need more than 8 hours! So John often lets me have a few extra hours on weekends (thank you my love) and that makes a huge difference. (We actually try to do this for each other lest you think I’m the selfish one.)
- Find a support system of those who “get it.” Like I said before, finding others who understand what you’re going through can make a huge impact. Saying the words “I am struggling” is so helpful to get beyond that crisis. Even being able to read stories of others who are also going through sleep or mental health struggles can be helpful. You’ll feel less alone. And finding tips like these from those who get it are amazing.