I have a confession to make. For years I was hooked on a prescription sleep aid. Several times a week I would happily and with great anticipation take a pill and go blissfully to sleep. I called it the sleep of the living dead. 6 hours of deep uninterrupted sleep and a tail that popped you out of bed ready to face the day. It was awesome!
But a few summers back I decided it was time to let go of my crutch. I needed to learn how to better manage whatever was keeping me awake, rather than medicating myself to sleep. So Father’s Day weekend I took my last sleep aid and arrogantly decided I was a changed woman. Ha!
The first night without it sucked! I tried to go to sleep about midnight. The minute I crawled into bed I heard a cricket. What??? How did a cricket get in my room? I hopped up and turned on the light. Looked all over but couldn’t find the stupid cricket. And of course it had stopped chirping.
I crawled back in bed and there it was again. Oh God, it’s in the bed with me!!! I hop up and strip off all the sheets. No cricket. Now I’m mad and cussing. I can’t sleep, there’s a freaking cricket in my bed, and there is no sleeping aid in the house. (It wasn’t my best moment.) Finally, I gave up finding it and just prayed.
God, please don’t let this cricket touch me. You know I hate bugs. Please don’t let it get anywhere near my nose, mouth, ears or you know, down there. Just let the thing go on its way and I’ll go on mine. Minutes later I cut the light off and crawl into bed. As I’m pulling up the cover I hear the cricket again, only now I realize it’s not a cricket. It’s the tag on my comforter moving across the sheets!
It’s funny in hindsight but those first few weeks, adjusting was a nightmare. Not sleeping was bad enough, but worse I just could not shut off my brain. All kinds of crazy stuff ran through my head at night. It seemed like all the day’s problems, plus yesterdays and tomorrows were rolling around in my head. After many sleepless nights I finally found a way to tone down the chatter in my mind and get a good night’s rest. Here’s my formula for a good night’s rest.
- Finish the day. I’ll NEVER finish everything, but at some point my waking day must end. Journaling helps me punctuate the close. By writing it out, I can release it from my brain and restore the calm.
- Empty my box. My mom shared with me the three boxes: my box, God’s box, and the trash. Before I close my eyes, I think about everything in my box and do one of two things – give it to God or throw it in the trash (Guess where most goes??).
- Count my blessings. Even on my worst days there is something for which I’m grateful. Focusing on those things doesn’t make my problems go away. It does, however, put them in perspective and reminds me that this is a season in my overall journey of a lifetime.
I know this is not rocket science. In fact, I hesitated to share it because it is so simple and the struggle is so personal.
But the thing is I know I’m not alone. So many women I know are using sleep aids and caffeine to cope with life. And believe me, I get it. Sometimes we just feel like we need to take the edge off. It’s just become too much. We can’t do it all. And instead of taking something off our plates – which is the advice we’d give the people we love – we continue to do it all and try to cope.
Part of Loving on Me! has to be learning to say NO. The truth is no matter what we’ve convinced ourselves we don’t have to do everything. Yes, we might have to work two jobs but no we don’t have to sing in the church choir and keep our friend’s kids too. Yes we may have to travel non-stop for work, but do we have to go out with co-workers every night we’re on the road? Take back your power! You don’t ever have to say this out loud, but in your mind repeat these words after me – I don’t have to, and you trying to guilt me won’t make me.
I know some of you are concerned that I’m going to end by asking you to give up your sleep aide or glass of wine at night. I’m not. The truth is I found some sleeping pills the other day – 20 precious tablets underneath my sink. (I counted. Don’t judge.) I was so happy, but then I remembered I didn’t need them and threw them in the trash. Two days later I heard the trash man in the back. It took everything in me not to run after him to go dumpster diving. Day by day is all we can do.
So no, we won’t be going into immediate detox. Instead, let’s focus on two things that will hopefully help us minimize needing them. For the next week:
- Take back the power of NO. Daily exhaustion is not a life requirement.
- Find your way to FINISH the day. Whatever you got done is enough.
Loving on Me as I Love You!
NOTE: This post is not intended as medical advice or a review of sleeping ads. The views shared are completely personal. As with any medical condition please contact your physician if you have trouble sleeping. Peace and Blessings!
Beyond powerful!!!! I really needed this. I know a million people who can identify with this, both women and men. Everyone is addicted to something so I really appreciate you writing this. Pick your poison! Personally, it’s a bowl of cereal that I MUST have in order to doze back off when I wake up in the middle of the night. See for me, it’s not a matter of falling asleep (that’s easy…I can’t resist most of the time), the issue for me is STAYING asleep. I have racked up the calories over the years battling the need to eat to go back to sleep. After reading this I now get it. Lightbuld moment, it’s not the cereal that I need; I need to empty my mental inbox and leave it for the next day versus taking it to bed with me.
You are creating discussions that really need to be had. I will continue to follow your blog loyally and encourage others to do the same!!!!
Great article! Every woman (and lots of men although they compartmentalize better than we do) has those struggles in her brain with her “to do” list. I found myself going to sleep just fine but God forbid I wake up to go to the bathroom or because my hubby was snoring..whatever time that was I was wide awake with my “to do” list or worries. Of course then I was cranky or useless later in the day because I was just so tired. It’s a vicious cycle, so thanks for the reminder that we all have sleep struggles and there are ways to get beyond them.
Thanks for stopping by ladies! I’ve heard from so many people about how they can relate. Let’s embrace our power to say NO! Day by day…
Pat McGhee says
You are right Kat. Even at 67 I am still learning to say “NO,” and it feels great to be in control.
Lawana Elliott says
I REALLY need to focus more on using those 3 boxes before bed because more often than not its the very things that I need to put away mentally that are keeping me from achieving that much needed REM. Thanks Katrina!
Mo Keenan Meldrum says
Great article and especially enjoyed the images of your thoughts when the trash man came. . . . .Just one question: does this apply to your friends still at Komen?
“■Take back the power of NO. Daily exhaustion is not a life requirement.
■Find your way to FINISH the day. Whatever you got done is enough.”
Ha! This especially applies to my friends working to save the world! We have to take care of ourselves too…how else can we keep helping others? Hmm…
Kenna Williams says
Thanks for sharing, Katrina!!! This is wonderful. Point well-taken on the three boxes, I’m implementing this TODAY!
Mike Ziener says
are guys allowed here 🙂
Absolutely! You are welcome and wanted! Thanks for stopping by…