Monday, March 12, 2012

Catching some ZZZsss

Daylight saving time is here and my sleep cycle is going to be thrown off again. But then again, my sleep cycle hasn’t been the same since my children were born. This time I have a plan.

Before pregnancy, I could sleep through anything. Throughout pregnancy, it was harder and harder to get a good night’s sleep. Once T. was born, sleep was elusive and I was sensitive to every little sound he made. I started a full-time job when he was nine-months old, making a good night’s sleep necessary. But it was elusive, even when T. slept through the night.

Two years later we were getting ready to bring H. into the world, getting me back into a “catch some sleep when I could” mode. I would take naps in my car during lunch, just to try to keep my energy up. Several months of a three-hour sleep cycle later, and I would find it hard to ever get a full six hours of sleep, let alone the suggested eight.

I’ve done everything the sleep experts say to do. Workout in the morning. Workout in the evening. Turn off all electronic devices one hour before bed. Drink a glass of warm milk. Drink some calming tea. Melatonin. No reading, t.v. or computer in bed.

But there was a while there where no matter what I did, I couldn’t get sleep. I’d literally take 2 hours to fall asleep, only to wake up an hour later. Then my mind would take over and I’d worry about being awake too long, my to-do list for the next day, trying not to look at the clock to see how much time I had left before I had to get up.

When I saw my doctor about this problem, he was hesitant to prescribe any sleeping pills. When I explained to him everything I had tried to get some sleep, he finally prescribed a limited amount. And I was grateful.

I had to get myself out of the bad habits of bad sleep. By this point I had about five years of bad sleep habits to get rid of. And I don’t mean the t.v. watching and all that. I had gotten in the habit of waking up within a certain amount of time of falling asleep.

Within a few weeks, I found a pattern that worked well for me. I was sleeping better through the night, thankfully. If I went two nights with my old habits, then I’d take the sleeping pill for a night, which seemed to help me the following nights when I wouldn’t take it. I made some adjustments in my life that helped me minimize my stress as well. The combination brings me to today, when I find that I can get a good night’s sleep with a pair of earplugs and a glass of warm milk at night.

It’s hard to function effectively without sleep. Suddenly simple projects are overwhelming. But once you get your sleep cycle under control, life is more manageable. Sometimes it takes asking for help, but once I did, I was grateful.

Anyone else have issues with sleep or lack thereof?

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Mother of two.

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