Insomnia and I have been lifelong friends. Having an overactive imagination is pretty useful when you’re the middle child and entertaining yourself is kind of a must. Not so much when you have no control over it at night and it keeps your brain racing and you’re not always sure of the destination. Or what will happen along the way.
I have tried almost every natural remedy. The only things that ever cured me was being pregnant or breast feeding. So, the only times in my life where I had no trouble falling asleep, or even taking naps (after the age of 3), was when I wasn’t allowed to sleep because of a tiny human. The irony of my life.
I had hoped my insomnia was cured, until a few months after my last kid had weened herself away from me and I found myself in that same strange place of being tired, exhausted even, and yet unable to fall asleep once I laid down. That awful feeling of checking the clock every twenty minutes, telling yourself, “just another forty minutes, but you’ll be asleep…another twenty minutes, but you’ll be asleep…” Then just getting up because you have to do something. Otherwise another hour will go by, and then another.
Or I get up and make lists of things that need to get done around the house, or in my career, or personal projects, or the grocery list. Or I stay up late feverishly writing out the start of my next brilliant, unfinished novel or short story. Sometimes I’m just too fried to be tired.
The one tip that works most of the time is my mom’s. I began creating whole stories in my head at a very young age to put myself to sleep. The problem with an overactive imagination and creating is that I often lost control of the story and characters were swallowed up, or trapped in a loop. I later learned how to push through those hiccups, and gain control back. And that is part of why my mom’s tip was the best.
Whenever she had trouble falling asleep, she would picture walking through her childhood home. Walking up the front path. The feel of the pavement below her feet. The feel of the sunshine on her face. The way her neighborhood smelled. Each minute detail of each step along the way. I don’t think I ever make it much past the front foyer of the first house I remember. Just the stories of our antics in that foyer could almost fill a book. Five, maybe ten, minutes and I’m out. If only it worked every night.
I will say, when I’m exercising regularly, eating the balanced diet that I know works for me, keeping my processed sugars low, doing yoga, and basically doing all the self care things that keep me healthy in mind, body, and spirit, my insomnia nights are few and far between. I think that says a lot for taking care of yourself.