How to Survive Insomnia

I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia? Uh, yes. From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible.  I never used to have a problem sleeping. Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am? And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am? Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.

Then I got married and started having children. Like, a lot of children. And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming. Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!

If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me. But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you.  (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)

4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia

1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.

If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night. This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening. I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor. Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.

2.  Eat well.

I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day. You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.

3.  Exercise.

Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run.  It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal. And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North. Bundle up! The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself. And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.

4.  Just get out of bed and pray or read.

This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep. Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep! The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow. Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep!  I just get up and go tell Jesus about it. I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet. I don’t turn any lights on either.

I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline. (Click HERE for it on Amazon.) From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!”  And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”

In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares. Really. And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.

Kim Heilman and her husband live in the cold, cold north where they are raising seven children.  She is a stay-at-home mom and is thankful for such things as coffee, wine, and the Catholic Church.  Her conversion story may be found in Ascension Press's Amazing Grace for Families book.  She also blogs at Musings From the Home.