This is a Type-A Parent paid post to discuss sleep issues and to share a new insomnia resource from the National Sleep Foundation.
Hi. My name is Carmen and I struggle with sleep. I struggle with sleep and I struggle with staying awake, which is such an odd place to be. A sleepy, hazy, purgatory of sorts. When I became a mom I had newborn sleep problems. As a military spouse I had insomnia when my husband started deploying to scary places. As a business owner, I don’t know when to say no to the laptop and can spend precious sleep hours staring unproductively at the screen– it’s a vicious cycle.
To make my sleep matters worse, instead of focusing on sleeping, I focused on distractions. I read more, watched more TV, worked more. However, my work was suffering. My parenting was not the best. “Mean Mama”– my alter ego– came out far more often. Things were slipping through the cracks. I wasn’t paying bills on time, I was skipping appointments, forgetting to eat…none of this was OK.
Not sleeping at night made it very hard to stay awake during the day. I supplemented my lack of sleep with caffeine–coffee, power drinks, caffeine pills. Shocker that I couldn’t get to sleep, but I couldn’t stay awake without them. At night I would drink a glass of wine and hope to sleep. Fingers super crossed. SleepFoundation.org states that drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evening prevents sleepiness and drinking alcohol– my yummy glass of wine before bed– can cause wake-ups during the night. I didn’t know about the alcohol fact…
…I’ve basically been screwing myself for years.
High Stress Plus Low Sleep Leads to Health Issues…Shocker
Not sleeping enough led to health issues that were related to the constant stress I felt as a new mom and a military wife. It was all connected, but I couldn’t stop living my life. I saw a therapist, but that didn’t help with the sleep. Other doctors wanted to give me sleep medicine but I refused because I had two little boys at home and a husband that was in and out the door on training missions or deployments. Two months ago I went to see my new doctor– new duty station– and after the entire medical history, he told me I may have a sleep disorder…we’re still in the midst of finding out which one.
While I waited for my appointment at the sleep clinic, my doctor gave me a ton of information about resetting my whacked out sleep cycle. In addition, I also became aware of the resources available through the National Sleep Foundation. Changes I have made in my life include:
- Going from 8 cups of coffee per day to no more than 3– and all before 3 p.m.
- Going to bed at 10:30 p.m. (even if I am not stupid tired)
- Wake up at the same time every day.
- Not napping for longer than 15 minutes during the day.
- Not trying to catch up on sleep on weekends. It never works and only messes me up for the upcoming week.
Spoiler alert– It’s working. It is taking a LOT of discipline to turn off the screens at 10:30 and to not have my 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. cups of coffee. I had convinced myself that coffee so late at night didn’t affect me, but what was happening was that I COULD go to sleep after an 8 p.m. cup, but that I couldn’t enter deep sleep. Not going into deep sleep meant I wasn’t getting the restorative sleep I needed to wake up refreshed the next day.
What to Do if You Can’t Sleep
If you’re reading this at 3 a.m. …check out the resources at the National Sleep Foundation’s website. It could be an easy fix or it could be insomnia. After spending several years of my life awake at 3 a.m. and realizing I was never alone, I get that sleep isn’t an easy thing for everyone to get. The National Sleep Foundation is your trusted resource for everything sleep – understanding how sleep works (which was my biggest problem) and why it’s important, learning healthy habits, creating a relaxing bedroom and bedtime routine and finding solutions to your sleep issues.
The National Sleep Foundation is holding a Twitter Sleep Chat (with prizes!)on June 18 to talk about healthy sleep habits, the biology of the sleep cycle and more. Here are the details:
What: National Sleep Foundation Twitter Chat #insomniahelp
When: Wednesday, June 18 at 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST
Connect: Be sure to take a moment to like the National Sleep Foundation on Facebook and follow@sleepfoundation before the chat. Also be sure to follow your hosts, @typeamom and@typeaparent. We will be there as a participant @nextgenmilso
Have you ever had problems going to sleep? Tell us what you did in the comments below or let us know how you create a relaxing bedtime routine.