Sunday, December 14, 2008

Good Night, Moon

Wow! Thanks for all the advice (and sympathies) for dealing with stress. I'm cured! Well, maybe not quite. But I did throw together a get together with some friends last night without a single ounce of stress tainting the preparations. Let me add that HH was out of town from Thursday morning until 30 minutes before the party started. KN and BW were, of course, as helpful as a toddler and preschooler can be (translation: more of a hindrance then a help). So, I'm really proud of myself. But I did have a total meltdown the day before over a phone call. There is still a lot of room for progress.

Are you ready to help solve my next major problem?

I can't sleep.

Can anyone relate? Probably everyone? And being sleep-deprived is a MAJOR joy killer. So, how do you find a way to get some Z's?

For me, I'm pretty sure it's related to the stress thing. But I also have poor sleeping habits. I blame my genes and HH. When I met him I was going to bed early and then waking up between 6:30 and 7--without an alarm. I just felt rested. But he's sort of a night person. Definitely NOT a morning person. And instead of letting my good habits rub off on him, we went the other direction. The only problem is, I wake up early in the morning, every morning, and then can't go back to sleep--no matter how exhausted I am.

Because my brain is busy trying to sort and solve all the major issues going on in my life. Like what to do with the guilt I feel over all the phone calls I've needed to make since April (I hate making phone calls), what outfit to wear to the gym that day, debating whether or not to throw my daughter a "friend" birthday party, pondering how I'll ever muster the energy to take down the Christmas decorations, debating whether it's better to wrap the Christmas presents now, or to just keep trying to hide them in various places, trying to remember where I put the present I bought for HH last week... and I think you get the point.

Anyway, like I said, being tired makes finding joy a real challenge. A lot of times when I begin to sink into a depression, being tired is the main or only culprit. Even when I'm not depressed, fatigue still makes me cranky. I'm more prone to snapping at HH and my kids. And I don't like it. It just feels yucky. Inside and out.

I know I should be better about going to bed early, but I'm still working on being more disciplined. Does anyone else struggle with this? Any ideas for generating motivation to take care of myself? Does anyone else have the overactive brain problem? Have you found anything that helps you to shut it down? The other problem, is that I can pretty much always think of something that seems more urgent than the sleep. At night that is either cleaning my house or spending time with HH. In the morning that includes studying the scriptures, cleaning my house, organizing my shopping list, returning emails, etc. Sleep is always one of the last priorities, even though I know it's important. Has anyone else needed to make a similar priority shift?

And what about the times when you can't avoid being a little sleep-deprived, like when your child gets sick in the middle of the night and keeps you up until dawn? Why do kids always get sick in the middle of the night? Okay, you don't really have to help with that one, but does anyone have advice for keeping the nasties away when you are tired? Any tips for regaining that ever-elusive patience?

The other thing about fatigue is that I'm less capable of eliminating and/or dealing with stress in my life. When I'm tired, it's kind of like I gather in all the possible stresses around me and clutch them tightly to my bosom. Why? I don't know. But when I'm tired, that's what I do. And it's SO STRESSFUL! But I feel incapable of letting go of any of it. Yet I'm way too tired to actually deal with it and work through it. But I'm too stressed to sleep. And so the vicious cycle continues. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Or am I just the freak of nature that HH thinks I am? He is a grrreat sleeper. Anytime, anywhere. I'm not jealous.

I hope you don't feel that I've turned this into my own personal self-help board. It's just that stress and sleep-deprivation go hand in hand in my life and they've both been playing lead roles lately. And I'm plumb tuckered out. And I figure I'm probably not the only one dealing with these things. And when you're exhausted, it's harder to find and appreciate the joy in your life. At least it is for me.


Nikki said...

Cheryl, I know for sure that counting sheep has only left me more frustrated than sleepy. When I can't sleep, I try to pray. It seems to calm me and refocuses my thoughts.

Amy said...

I could have written this blog post! because it sounds just like me. Praying helps me, if I can calm myself down enough to let it. Also, reading in a book will sometimes distract me enough to then go to sleep. Also, I've had a lot of success with getting up and writing down a list of all the things I'm stressed about or am worried that I'll forget about in the morning, and then once it's written down, I can let go of it and go to sleep.

Jennifer said...

I totally do that over-active brain thing. The last two weeks or so for me have been a fluke - I don't know why I can't sleep (Okay, I do but I don't know how to get over the stress that's causing it), I usually end up making up stories in my head. I get caught up in the little details of it (like what I'm wearing in the story or something) and focusing on that can usually help me fall asleep.

I wish I could say praying helps me, but I usually end up crying and then I get that crying headache which keeps me up.

Linda said...

As you already know, this is a hereditary problem, going back at least 2 generations to your Grandma. I thought maybe it was a gene only passed on to the females in the family, but some of my brothers tell me they've also inherited the gift of waking up way early in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep. Sorry to have passed it on to you!

A few things that help me:
1 - Staying in bed until at least 6 a.m. because getting up early actually trains our bodies to keep waking up early, maybe even earlier and earlier as time goes on. This helps but there are still many mornings that I lie in bed checking the clock every so often, unable to go back to sleep. I think what makes me want to get up early is the prospect of having some "bonus" hours in my day and not having interruptions. I usually do better when I don't look at a clock, but I'm not always able to resist the temptation.
2 - Writing things down helps me let go of them somewhat. This means making a habit of keeping something to write with and something to write on easily accessible, either next to the bed or in the bathroom.
3 - Praying to be able to go to sleep and/or to be able to think about something that will relax me.
4 - Remembering that almost everything seems like a much bigger deal in the night than it does in the day.
5 - Sometimes I try to recall a good memory and relive it or I count backwards because that takes more concentration.

Jen said...

For as long as I have known you and Blake, I have always heard that you are "going to go to bed earlier" from now on and that you are really working on it this time. :) Honestly though, I have felt a very similar desire lately as well. I stay up late working because it's the only time that I have to do it undistracted. Eric stays up working as well, and often continues after I've gone to bed. Eric is also a late-owl, which really doesn't hlep -- obviously him and HH have that very much in common.
The one thing that knocks both Eric and I out is a bit unmentionable on this G-rated blog, so I won't mention it, ok? But, honestly, that always does the trick.

Laura Ashley said...

Hi, I just found your blog. I have a blog by the same name. You have had yours longer, I hope you don't mind.