Colorado Life Coach: Trying to sleep-what an oxymoron!

Do you struggle trying to sleep? Isn’t that a funny saying? For something that should come so naturally and without effort, many of us TRY to sleep!

It’s been an issue for me for 13 years. I can pinpoint the day my troubles began. We had just returned from Vietnam with our adopted son, and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was exhausted, but lay awake night after night. I couldn’t wait for bedtime, and snuggled in, ready for sleep. Soon, I realized it was 1:00 and I was still awake. Now it was 2:30. Now, 4:00, and my anxiety kicked into high gear.

How was I going to make it through another day, when I hadn’t slept for 7 nights straight?

My mom invited me to sleep at her house. I took a hot bath, drank some Sleepy Time Tea, and enjoyed the peace and quiet away from my kids. Still, no sleep.

Through the years I’ve tried Melatonin, and several natural sleep aids, as well as over-the-counter drugs. I’ve set a schedule, darkened my room, and tried everything the “experts” recommend. A few well meaning friends gave me this advice, “If you’d listen to God during the day, he wouldn’t have to wake you up at night.”

The worst time was a 5-month period without any sleep. I couldn’t drive. My eyes hurt. People brought us meals and cleaned our house. I couldn’t take care of my children. I was truly in crisis.

It’s a scary, lonely thing to lay awake when everyone you know is sleeping soundly.

I decided to see a psychiatrist. He mixed me up a combination of pills that did the trick. Other than eating and using the bathroom, I slept for a solid week. After arising from my semi-coma, the Dr. told me to take the drugs every other night. So, I slept every other night.

Over time, I lowered my dosage, and dropped most of the meds.

I’ve worked on my physical health, nutrition, exercise, and emotional health as well. I’m at a good weight and healthier than I’ve ever been.

And I still struggle with sleep.

I’ve prayed. Believe me, when you’re up for hours by yourself, God is very close.

I hear from friends of all ages that lack of sleep is truly an issue for so many people. It impacts everything.

Focus

Energy

Production

Relationships

Attitude

Mood

Physical health

Work

Our bodies were made to recharge for about 8 hours every night.

I don’t schedule meetings in the morning, because I never know how I’ll feel. Some days, I don’t get much done. Other days, no one would ever know I have sleep issues, because I can totally keep up.

My lesson?

During the long sleepless 5 months, I decided I would be OK if I never slept again. After all, I was still alive. I quit fighting it. I gave up and gave in. This decision didn’t come easily. A good friend told me how she had gotten through a really rough time. She quit fighting and accepted it.

I’m a doer, so doing nothing and accepting is actually harder for me than seeking counseling, trying a program, or adding structure to my life.

That was 8 years ago, and I’m STILL alive.

I still seek answers, but I accept that sleep is an issue and work around it.

Chances are, no one really cares how I’ve dealt with my sleep issues, but I bet lots of people can identify with the struggle! How about you? What have you tried? What’s worked, and what hasn’t?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

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