Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.
Sleep is often a challenge for me. Since childhood, I’ve experienced vivid dreams and nightmares that feel real. I am a restless sleeper who constantly moves in her sleep, but also likes to curl up and cuddle when in a deep, non-dreaming sleep period.
Thanks to the trauma of my past, I also experience night sweats, night terrors, sleep paralysis, and panic attacks too. And have alter personalities that don’t sleep at night. Some part of me is always awake and take sleep shifts to maintain this routine.
Before moving to Oregon, I never slept more than 3-4 hours at a time. It was restless, light sleep that did not offer any healing or rejuvenation. The healing only happened when I was so tired from lack of sleep that I would pass out and sleep for a day or longer at a time.
After moving to Oregon, I started experiencing deep, REM sleep in between the nightmares and panic attacks that woke me or the alters on night duty up so easily. Eventually, I started sleeping for longer periods of time too. The longer periods were a mix of REM, healing sleep and light, disturbed sleep.
But the difference was remarkable. The more sleep I got, the better I felt overall. Emotional balance was and is easier to attain/maintain. Physical health improved in a variety of ways. Triggers were (and are) easier to manage. Bonus: sound and smell triggers are noted if they wake one or more of us up, but do not impact rest or sleep in a significant way anymore. i.e. I can sleep through them when I feel safe in my home and building.
These days, I really feel it when I don’t get enough sleep. The guilt and increase in symptoms this time of year makes sleep a precious commodity. But I’ve learned some tips that help. Maybe they will help you too
- Feel safe and protected wherever you live.
- I cannot stress how important this is because it’s something I am working with in real time (the present)
- Because I feel safe in this building and this apartment, the continued noise and sensation disturbances from my upstairs neighbor (exact same ones as from my last two places, but that is another story) don’t interrupt my sleep anymore. I literally sleep through the noise and the vibrations/massage sensations that used to interrupt my downtime and sleep.
- Stay hydrated and use the facilities before bed if you can
- The two major things that wake me up these days are 1) get thirsty and feel dry lips; 2) have to empty my bladder or bowels because the discomfort wakes me up
- Think about memories, feelings, experiences, or stories (includes reading or listening to or watching media) that help you move into a relaxed, safe frame of mind
- Do activities that help you feel relaxed and safe or move into a relaxed, safe state of mind
- stretching/yoga/gentle movement
- bath or shower
- mediation or deep breathing
- coloring/journaling/cleaning (I like to do dishes sometimes)
- Your idea here
- Sleep somewhere besides your bed that feels warm/cool, safe, and comfortable
- This used to disturb my parents and anyone else whose place where I stayed the night because I would randomly fall asleep in bed and wake up somewhere else in the house
- After I moved out, I kept extra pillows and blankets in the living room. Sometimes I had a sofa or comfy chair to sleep on. Other times it was the floor
- These days I have a convertible floor chair that folds out into a lounge chair and bed. It has extra pillows and blankets, and I’ve been sleeping there for the past two nights
And as I continue thinking about the movement challenge starting on Sunday, I wonder if sharing photos of my different sleep spaces and “DIY exercise equipment” will be useful or not.
Also wonder if doing a Facebook video or Facebook live to start the challenge will be useful too. Then you all can meet me at the beginning and give me some accountability if I get cold feet 🙂
Thanks for reading.