I have always been a terrible sleeper.
I can remember laying awake in my bed as a 6-year-old, listening to the sounds of the house, bored out of my mind, nowhere near sleep. (Which is why I started hiding books under my pillow.) I can remember watching my digital alarm clock’s bright red numbers creep towards the 11 p.m. mark as a teenager, worrying about having to get up for class the next morning.
It’s pretty common that, when I wake up at night, I’m up for two hours before I can fall back to sleep. I can’t remember a time when that’s not been the case.
And we won’t talk about how it took Johanna THREE YEARS to finally sleep through the night when she was an infant/toddler, and how, even if I did manage to fall asleep, I would be up multiple times each night trying to soothe her. Spoiler alert: She was not easily soothed.
I was having coffee with a friend last month (two months ago? It might be time for another coffee date) and felt so much better when she said that she is at the age where sleep is a priority — how to get more and better sleep. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart, because even though my kids are way past needing me at night, I rarely sleep through.
I really, really want to sleep through the night. It’s my life goal at this point.
Of course I’ve researched the problem and tried the suggestions laid out in various articles. I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that bodies are different and that we all have our own issues and hang ups when it comes to getting a solid night’s rest.
I don’t need it particularly dark or quiet, but for whatever reason, my body doesn’t often fall into a deep sleep. I wake myself up simply by moving. Or feeling Eric move. Or because the cats are jumping up on the bed and are incapable of stealth. Once I’m up, my brain starts on a negative loop and it’s hard to settle back down.
All 400 of those words are just to say that I’ve been experimenting with a couple of different sleep tricks lately that seem to be working. (Fingers, toes, everything crossed.)
The first: A meditation / white noise app.
After looking at a few, I settled on an app called Tide. There is a subscription service you can purchase (I haven’t), but the free content is pretty damn good. The white noise aspect is what originally made me check it out — and I now fall asleep to “Muse” (“Storm” is another favorite), which turns off on its own after a set amount of time. The upside: It works. The downside: I’ve got earbuds in and even with the volume turned low, I wonder what this is doing to my hearing. Another upside: The app also contains breathing and meditation exercises that I try to do during the day, and I’ve found this greatly helps in my overall outlook. A calmer, more peaceful me during the day seems to continue into the night.
Anyway, the suggestion here is not that Tide is right for you, but that perhaps a meditation / white noise app could prove helpful in a general sort of way.
The second: I broke down and purchased a weighted blanket off of Amazon since apparently they don’t exist in the real world.
Let me tell you the downsides to a weighted blanket right up front to get that out of the way: They are HEAVY. 😉 I got a 15-pound blanket and am wondering if maybe I should have gotten the 10. It’s a workout trying to maneuver that thing and in the beginning, I’d wake myself up every time I tried to move. Also, I’m tall, so it doesn’t completely cover my body. Actually that’s not really a downside because I hate having my feet covered. (They get hot and itchy.) And it can be a little too warm to sleep under, especially now that summer is here.
I’ve had it for about a month now, though, and the positives greatly outnumber the negatives. I love this thing. I am used to the weight at this point, so it’s not waking me up when I move around. I’m noticing that I sleep more deeply and longer with the blanket — I’m not sleeping through the night, but I am falling asleep more quickly when I wake up. And for whatever reason, it seems to be cushioning me from any of Eric’s movements (my blanket is twin-size), so I’m also not waking up because of that.
I love the feeling of that weight on my body and am finding that I like to cuddle up in it after work or on the weekends. (It’s a very soothing reading blanket. Um, and I’ve got it on my lap as I type this up on Freida.) It still feels heavy to me and it can be awkward to maneuver, but I see that as an opportunity cost.
Anyway, these two combined seem to be working, and for that, I am grateful. Grateful enough to write a post about it.
Any other bad sleepers out there? What do you do to cope?