I have insomnia. Not in the I’ve been medically diagnosed with insomnia way, but I just mean I go through phases of life on the regular where I am awake for hours and hours during the night. There have been some nights (usually when I am anxious or upset about something) in which I have never actually fallen asleep.
It’s infuriating to have 4 kids who all sleep through the night and still feel this tired. And admittedly, after a few nights in a row of barely sleeping, we’re not just talking about a normal, tired mom here. I become this mom who’s more than tired – I’m CRAZY. I start doing ridiculous things like eating pie for breakfast, putting disposable diapers in the washing machine, and breaking down in tears just flipping through Family Circle. Last week I started crying while I was folding laundry and watching The Wedding Planner – a new low for me. Lack of sleep translates to a complete inability to hold myself together.
Having had this problem for years, I have a medicine cabinet stocked full of sleep aids, both OTC and prescribed. They are usually effective at first, but if used too regularly, my sleep actually seems to get worse. Most of them are not meant for long term use.
But yet I have a long term sleep problem. What to do?
This weekend I was lying in bed at 3am completely wide awake. I was calculating the chances of myself falling asleep at that point and wondering how I was going to make it through the next day only having slept 11pm-3am for the 3rd day in a row.
I was wishing I had the talent of napping.
I have tried from time to time – usually when I’m in the throws of having a newborn – but I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I’ve actually fallen asleep. I know, I know, just resting is restorative, but come on. Closing my eyes for 20 minutes isn’t going to make a dent in the sleep deprivation incurred by three consecutive nights of insomnia. I need actual sleep.
And then it hit me. Perhaps I do not lack the talent of napping, perhaps I am just not nap trained!
If I never put my kids down for naps – for months and months – and then randomly put them down one day at 1pm, they’d probably really struggle to fall asleep. As it is, they nap regularly and for the most part very well, but that’s because I’ve trained them to do it. Their bodies are used to the routine.
Do the same rules apply to adults? Can an adult be nap trained?
This is my new experiment.
I have decided that for 2 weeks, I am going to put myself down for a nap every day around 1pm.
Nap time is no shorter than 1 hour. I can read for the first half hour, but for the second half hour I must close my eyes and lay there quietly.
Cell phone must be put on DO NOT DISTURB and out of reach.
Nap time cannot be spent worrying about whether or not I’ll fall asleep OR forming mental to-do lists.
I am on day 3 of nap training. I have not fallen asleep yet, but I also wouldn’t say the rest time is altogether pointless. Somehow my house is still clean, the laundry is still done, and nothing important seems to be going unfinished.
Here’s to the hope for an effective experiment, an end to the current phase of insomnia, and a well-rested future.