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I'm done! Can you help me think about sleep.


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Today was my last day of my job!  I have such mixed feelings.  I love being a teacher.  I love my students, and the program I helped build.  But this year, juggling the needs of my kids at home, and grief, and the kids at school was a lot.  I took a different job next year with fewer hours, and some time working from home, but it doesn't start until August 2.

I need to use this month to fix my sleep.  I am taking a ton of medication that's supposed to help with sleep, and my pattern is that I still can't sleep until some point after midnight when I break down and start crying, and cry myself to sleep.  Then I'm up at least one time in the night, and fall asleep with the help of some meds, and then 6 hours after I first fall asleep, I need to wake and go to work.  I have one med, a rescue med for panic attacks, that helps me fall asleep later and sleep longer, which is great, but it makes me too brainfogged and stupid to feel safe driving or comfortable teaching the next day.  So, I only take it when I have an anxiety attack.  When I do,  however much extra I slept (e.g. if I slept 8 hours instead of 6, then I'd consider that 2.5 extra hours) I then basically can't fall asleep until until 2.5 hours later the next day.  I

But for the next month, I don't have to drive anyone anywhere.  I don't have to get up at a certain time.  I don't have to be able to speak in coherent sentences and convey knowledge to people's children.  

So, I'm going to work on sleep, and make it my priority.  I'm just not even sure how to go about it.  I'm not even sure what question I'm asking, to be honest, but I guess I want suggestions on how to fix this problem.   So, what ideas do people have?

To be clear, I don't need medication suggestions.  My doctors and I have tried lots of meds.  I think I have to just say that the current combo is as good as it's going to get, and look for other strategies.  

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Advice I have heard is:

Set a set bedtime.

Don’t do any vigorous exercise within 4 hours of bedtime.

Don’t eat after 3 hours beforehand.

Warm milk actually does help if you can stand it.

No screen time for a couple of hours before bed time.

Establish a ritual for going to sleep.

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Hugs.  I sometimes get all worked up when I am not successful getting a good night's sleep.  I cannot have a clock in my bedroom as it freaks me out on nights I can't sleep well. 

 

How much caffeine are you drinking?

Do you exercise during the day?

Get out in the daylight?

Don't eat close to going to bed.

sleepy foods or drinks   cherries, warm milk, sleepy tea

Dark room.  no lights

Get a good temp in your room

How is your mattress, sheets, and pillow?

How is your spouse?  Does he keep you up at night?

Do you have a tv in your bedroom? 

I am getting better sleep with a sound machine.  Is noise keeping you awake? 

I do a warm shower close to bed.  

How about yoga, mediation, or relaxing music? 

Don't watch tv or computer or phone close to bed. 

Lower the lights in the house close to bed time to get yourself ready for bed.

Reading a book is the best way for me to go to sleep.

Melatonin did nothing for me, but some people like it.

I started taking magnesium to help me sleep and other things and it really seems to have helped. 

Do the kids wake you up at all?

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10 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

As a person dealing with a different kind of grief, my advice is to not try to fix it.

 

Cry yourself to sleep.  Indulge in it.  You don't have to drive anywhere, get up at a particular time, be coherent, or teach.  SO.....take advantage of that and just..................................don't.  This crap sucks butt.  It's no fun, and I don't always follow my own advice (but I do have to drive places, be coherent and teach) but since you don't have to do those things....

 

Don't prioritize sleep.  Prioritize processing.  Recognize that doing so makes sleep suck................and that's ok.

I don't mind the crying myself to sleep.  In a weird way, I feel closer to my kid when I'm crying in the night than at other times.   So, I could live with the crying.  The issue is that I can't cry the way I need to cry until it's like 18 hours since I woke up, and I'm so tired I can't see straight.  Like, if I could crawl under the covers at 10 and have a good cry, and sleep till morning, even if that meant waking up every few hours and taking more medication, I could live with that. But the 5 or so hours of sleep a night has to change.  Because I'm really not that functional.  

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In addition to what was said above, if it’s possible to get up and go on a really long walk outside in the sun, preferably along water on a wooded path, you should. Even if you can only  do it once a week. And by long I mean 10-12 miles, but even 30 minutes will do.

And make the book before bed a fiction book only.  Sometimes when DH says he can’t sleep I put on an audio Bible.  He’s always snoring in less than 10 minutes. 

And with your latest update, I’d make it a sad fiction book.  

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2 minutes ago, Katy said:

In addition to what was said above, if it’s possible to get up and go on a really long walk outside in the sun, preferably along water on a wooded path, you should. Even if you can only  do it once a week. And by long I mean 10-12 miles, but even 30 minutes will do.

And make the book before bed a fiction book only.  Sometimes when DH says he can’t sleep I put on an audio Bible.  He’s always snoring in less than 10 minutes. 

And with your latest update, I’d make it a sad fiction book.  

Well, it's like a bajillion degrees here in July, and if I wanted to walk anywhere that resembled a wooded path along water, then I would need to drive, which means I couldn't take the med that works.  

I am thinking of trying the "exercising in the morning" strategy again. I did it for months, on the suggestion of one of my doctors, and basically, if I woke up an hour early to exercise, the next day I could fall asleep an hour earlier.  So, it didn't actually increase total sleep.  But that was super early, since I needed to be showered and professionally dressed, and on camera at 8:00.  For much of the time I did it, I was doing it in the dark.  But it will be more like walking around an urban area until I wilt.  

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2 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

What you said about not having to be places and do things implied to me that being functional was a low priority item. 

I still need to be able to parent.  Which makes functioning a priority.  But I don't have to be out of the house and on the road at 7:30 a.m..  My kids have swim team in the morning, and they can ride their bikes there.  If I take the meds that let me sleep, I can push off things like grocery shopping till later in the day, and choose afternoon appointments at the dentist for them, and such.  Their sports, other than swimming, are all in the evening because of the heat until Aug 2.  And while I still need to be able to plan meals, and hold coherent conversations with the kids, and such, it's a little more forgiving than being in a virtual classroom all day (I taught online this year), while also homeschooling.  

But I also need to be functional for my new job.  In some ways my new job will be easier, because I'll be able to do all the client facing hours when my kids are in school, and the other hours should be both fewer and less time sensitive than the job I ended today.  But, on the other hand, it's a whole bunch of new skills, and detailed work, and writing reports, and consulting, all of which require me to speak in full sentences, and be professional.   Plus on August 2nd, I need to be ready to head out the door at 8:00 a.m. to drive my kid to camp, and go to work.  I think if I'm still so tired I can't see straight, I will fail, and I am the only source of income in my family right now.  

So, even though I could probably stumble through this month without sleep, I NEED to solve this issue.  

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Posted (edited)
Just now, happysmileylady said:

\

I obviously missed something.......why is this the case?  I thought your DH was working?

Edited to say:  Sorry, I phrase that in sort of a snarky way.  I don't talk about my DH online, because it's complicated. But he's neither working nor actively parenting the kids at this point.  

 

Edited by BaseballandHockey
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Just now, happysmileylady said:

Ok so, I didn't realize there were other issues like that.  It does present a different scenario.

 

Is he capable of dealing with the day to day needs of the kids?

 Sorry, I really don't want to talk about his situation here.  

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Posted (edited)

My college age niece is watching my 3 younger nieces.  They're on the same swim team as my kids, and usually she brings them to the house where i'm staying after practice and the 6 of them hang out together with my GFIL and my kids.  So, my kids have had company during the day when I'm working, and will continue to have that through this month.  

 

Edited by BaseballandHockey
incoherence (Ironic given the thread topic!)
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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

So at this point....

 

All I have is this grief crap SUCKS....and sometimes.......just doing the next thing is all we can do. 

 

Don't try to fix sleep.  Or at least....just try to sleep what you need to sleep.  But if you are having a hard time with that.....................................that's ok. 

 

 

 

It's ok for things to be jacked up for a while.....for more than a little while.

 

 

Yes grief really sucks.

I don't know what the bolded means.  I clearly am not sleeping what I need to sleep.  If I'm so tired I can't feel safe, and worry about my safety driving, and worry about losing my job and our only income, then I am clearly not sleeping what I need to sleep.   But I have no idea how to do that, hence my post.  I don't think I can just not try to fix it, because my kids deserve a functional parent, and I really really do have to work.  

Are you getting any sleep?  I'm sorry you're dealing with grief too. 

Edited by BaseballandHockey
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I have a couple of podcasts that I play to fall asleep to.  I have found that my brain goes to crazy places if left to wander in the quiet, so I listen to a quiet podcast, something with a soothing host and not dramatic stories .  99% invisible, History Hit and The People’s Pharmacy are my go tos.  I feel like it distracts my thoughts enough to let me sleep, otherwise I start ruminating and stress myself out.  

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One suggestion that sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes I find that a 30-45 minute nap on the couch in the afternoon makes me more tired at bedtime than I normally am on non-nap days. Since you've got a month where your duties are lighter, maybe you could try a couple afternoon naps to see if they help you fall asleep faster for a couple nights to see if it might help "reset" your  clock. Make sure to set an alarm so you don't sleep too long.

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This is a small suggestion, but if you like to read in bed, either before going to sleep or when you wake up in the night, read something you’ve read before.  Reading something you enjoy can be soothing and distracting and if you already know what happens next it won’t keep you awake.

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1 minute ago, happysmileylady said:

Sometimes.

 

If I feel my kids aren't safe, I can.....................and have....................drop them off with my parents, my sister, my brother or other people.  Do you have that option, in any form?

We live with my FIL.  So, between him and my nieces they have people if they need them. 

But my kids are safe.  They deserve more than just safe though.  But I'm not putting them in danger.  My youngest is almost 11, so it's like they need constant supervision, and I am not in danger to them, unless maybe in theory I was driving, but I am really careful not to do that unless I'm in decent shape.  

Long term, though, I need to solve this problem.  I just do.

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1 minute ago, HeartString said:

I have a couple of podcasts that I play to fall asleep to.  I have found that my brain goes to crazy places if left to wander in the quiet, so I listen to a quiet podcast, something with a soothing host and not dramatic stories .  99% invisible, History Hit and The People’s Pharmacy are my go tos.  I feel like it distracts my thoughts enough to let me sleep, otherwise I start ruminating and stress myself out.  

For podcasts with very calming voices, try This Jungian Life. 

I actually love it as a podcast, but if I need soothing to sleep, I play an old ep and crash out 5 min later 

 

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2 minutes ago, HeartString said:

I have a couple of podcasts that I play to fall asleep to.  I have found that my brain goes to crazy places if left to wander in the quiet, so I listen to a quiet podcast, something with a soothing host and not dramatic stories .  99% invisible, History Hit and The People’s Pharmacy are my go tos.  I feel like it distracts my thoughts enough to let me sleep, otherwise I start ruminating and stress myself out.  

This is a good point. I listen to a t.v. show that I've watched a million times already to fall asleep. The conversation between the characters lulls me to sleep almost instantly, and the streaming apps will turn themselves off after an episode or two.

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1 minute ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Do you think some yoga (yoga with Adrienne on YouTube) and some meditation work might help? For me, working on interoception through conscious relaxation stuff was helpful.

I really hate yoga.  Like long before I became a grieving traumatized mess, I had a hatred of yoga.

My brain and I don't do too well alone together.  Which makes meditation hard. 

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1 minute ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I kinda wonder if you’re just so jacked up with stress that your cortisol levels are messing with your sleep rhythms and dealing with stress might lower those, and give you some more muscle tone through the yoga as a side benefit. 

Oh without a doubt.  I feel like I spent too long with every muscle in my body tensed as I watched for crises and now it won't let go.  Plus, I have pretty strong associations with bed and both missing my son, since I spent so much time lying beside him, and with the fact that trauma always came at night. 

I think I do need to find better exercise.  It won't be yoga though.  

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So if you do not have to wake up in the morning, what happens?  No alarms, no dog to let out, no kids needing breakfast...

Do you still stay asleep? 

Could you maybe spend two weeks just sleeping whenever and wherever you can/ Your kids are old enough to be understanding of this for the time being and it sounds like you have some good support while you work on this. 

I've heard that it doesn't matter quite so much WHEN you get the recommended 7-8 hours as long as youre getting it. So when my babies were small, I was ok if I slept 6 hours at night with a 2 hour nap.

So I'd focus for a week or two on simply fixing some of the sleep debt. Toward the end of the month, I would try to tweak the sleeping so that you could have a more conventional sleep time. 

It sounds like youve been so exhasuted for so long, your adrenal/cortisol stuff is so jacked up that you may have to re-teach your body to sleep. 

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1 minute ago, happysmileylady said:

If the kids are safe, if your lack of sleep is not putting them in danger...................................then be ok with not being ok. 

 

Long term, the problem will need to be solved but...................long term...................the problem will probably resolve itself.  Which is a super sucky awful thing to say but but as we are both in the midst of some super awful sucky grief..........................................I feel like it's ok to say.

 

It's ok to not be ok.  It's ok to have jacked up sleep for a while.  If the kids are safe and fed and as ok as they can be (on tap for us tonight is words said at the service....so ok as can be) then it's ok to be screwed up. 

I don't really understand what you are saying.  My kids aren't in danger, but they eat food.  They need a roof over their head.  They require health insurance.  I have to work. 

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8 minutes ago, fraidycat said:

One suggestion that sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes I find that a 30-45 minute nap on the couch in the afternoon makes me more tired at bedtime than I normally am on non-nap days. Since you've got a month where your duties are lighter, maybe you could try a couple afternoon naps to see if they help you fall asleep faster for a couple nights to see if it might help "reset" your  clock. Make sure to set an alarm so you don't sleep too long.

I can't fall asleep during the day any easier than at night. 

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I'm so sorry you're suffering with this sleep problem!  

 I've been watching some of the videos on Dr. Tracey Marks' you tube channel lately.   Her topic today might be helpful for you:   "How to Rig Your Body Temperature for Deep Sleep".    She talks about the importance of keeping your core cool for better sleep.  It is a sponsored video so she includes info about some kind of high-tech cooling mattress or mattress cover, but she also gives alternatives like using strategically placed ice packs (with covers to protect your skin).

(I hope I haven't offended you...  I feel so sad for you because of all the emotions and stress you're dealing with right now, and when I saw your post after seeing Dr. Marks' new video today I thought maybe there's a chance that you might find something helpful. ) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9Rvel3ja1E

 

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6 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I don't really understand what you are saying.  My kids aren't in danger, but they eat food.  They need a roof over their head.  They require health insurance.  I have to work. 

Are you getting mental health counseling? Are you and your dh seeing a marriage counselor? 

Edited to add — You might both benefit from seeing a grief counselor as well, and maybe joining a support group.

Edited by Catwoman
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2 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

So if you do not have to wake up in the morning, what happens?  No alarms, no dog to let out, no kids needing breakfast...

So, I pretty automatically wake about 5:30 a.m..  My alarm went off at 6, on workdays (last time this morning!) but I usually don't make it that late. If I take another pill, I can go back to sleep for another couple hours, but obviously I couldn't do that when working.  But if I do that, and say I sleep till 8, then I'll just be up later the next night.  

2 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

Do you still stay asleep? 

Could you maybe spend two weeks just sleeping whenever and wherever you can/ Your kids are old enough to be understanding of this for the time being and it sounds like you have some good support while you work on this. 

I've heard that it doesn't matter quite so much WHEN you get the recommended 7-8 hours as long as youre getting it. So when my babies were small, I was ok if I slept 6 hours at night with a 2 hour nap.

So I'd focus for a week or two on simply fixing some of the sleep debt. Toward the end of the month, I would try to tweak the sleeping so that you could have a more conventional sleep time. 

That's the problem.  I have this enormous sleep debt.  But I don't know how to fix it, because when I manage to get one good night, then the next night is just worse.  

 

2 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

It sounds like youve been so exhasuted for so long, your adrenal/cortisol stuff is so jacked up that you may have to re-teach your body to sleep. 

 

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2 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

You said you don't have to work for the next several weeks?

Right but I need to make some headway over the next few weeks, because I can't go into my new job without having figured out a routine that gets more more than 5 - 5.5 hours of interrupted sleep.  Or I won't be able to keep the job.  

I can't push off solving the problem, because I need to be in a better shape a month from now.

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5 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Fwiw, I just spent the first week of summer break sleeping 12-14 hours a day, eating, and sitting in our hot tub (before the heatpocalypse this past weekend). The notion of a sleep vacation is not a bad one. I slept until 11am most days last week.

That sounds like what I need, but I don't know how to make it happen.  

I have the time.  My kids would be OK.  But the sleep doesn't come. 

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8 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Pilates? Weight lifting? 

I can try those things.  

To be honest, before this, I had a lifestyle where I did a lot of lifting and moving at work, and just in our day to day parenting routines, so I didn't really have a form of exercise that worked, so I need to figure out what works for me. 

8 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

I used to work out at 5:30 am when I needed to get to bed by 8pm. 
 

Do hard workouts help with stress for you? Like what DOES work? And if you don’t know, try some new things?

That's what I'm looking for, suggestions on what to try. 

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Just now, BaseballandHockey said:

I'm not going to talk about DH, but I'm getting some support. 

Yes, you mentioned that, and I’m sure we all understand that you need your privacy. 

I’m glad to hear you’re getting some support. 

Is there any way you could do a sleep study?

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12 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Oh without a doubt.  I feel like I spent too long with every muscle in my body tensed as I watched for crises and now it won't let go.  Plus, I have pretty strong associations with bed and both missing my son, since I spent so much time lying beside him, and with the fact that trauma always came at night. 

I think I do need to find better exercise.  It won't be yoga though.  

Tai chi? 

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1 minute ago, happysmileylady said:

Mama.....

 

Take a deep breath....

 

You can.

 

 

specifically because doing so could very well be what you need to BE in better shape 4 weeks from now. 

 

I am in the midst of this with you.  Different loss, but I know what's going on.  Just feel the loss.   Forget the "should be"  You have a great luxury of time and support so use it....just take this time to feel the emotions.  Let the rest do it's job

I just wanted to say how incredibly kind you are to be so helpful, because you are going through so much yourself, yet you still find the time to try to help others. It’s just amazing. 

Sending you many healing hugs.

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2 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Yes, you mentioned that, and I’m sure we all understand that you need your privacy. 

I’m glad to hear you’re getting some support. 

Is there any way you could do a sleep study?

What would a sleep study reveal?  I've been through a bunch with my kid.  I know how they work, but it seems pretty clear that what's happening to me is PTSD and not something like sleep apnea. 

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4 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Mama.....

 

Take a deep breath....

 

You can.

 

 

specifically because doing so could very well be what you need to BE in better shape 4 weeks from now. 

 

I am in the midst of this with you.  Different loss, but I know what's going on.  Just feel the loss.   Forget the "should be"  You have a great luxury of time and support so use it....just take this time to feel the emotions.  Let the rest do it's job

I'm sorry I know I sound like I'm arguing.  I just don't even know what you're suggesting, and I'm desperate and you seem like maybe you have something that's working.  

Are you suggesting I just give up and keep waking up at 5 something or 6, and wandering around exhausted all day and then crying myself to sleep?  I feel like if that was what I needed, I would be seeing improvement.  

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3 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

I just wanted to say how incredibly kind you are to be so helpful, because you are going through so much yourself, yet you still find the time to try to help others. It’s just amazing. 

Sending you many healing hugs.

I also really appreciate her kindness.  Thank you!

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3 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

What would a sleep study reveal?  I've been through a bunch with my kid.  I know how they work, but it seems pretty clear that what's happening to me is PTSD and not something like sleep apnea. 

Honestly, if it truly is PTSD, this whole thread may be beyond most of our pay grades. If you haven’t already, you may want to address this with mental health professionals. 

I would hate to think that any of us might suggest anything that would make things worse for you.

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