Archive for the ‘Insomnia’ Category

Too Tired to Cope

It is 7:00 p.m., and I am about ready to drop. I am getting a shower and going to bed. I will take some Tussionex to knock me out. Here’s hoping I can sleep through the night. I keep feeling the urge to cry. I don’t know how much has to do with seeing my mother/abuser on Saturday and how much has to do with being so friggin’ tired.

A few of you have sent me long emails. Please be patient with me in responding. I don’t know how much I have to give right now until I get through this hurdle of seeing my mother. I am holding onto your emails and will read & respond as I am able.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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It’s 2:49 a.m., and I have given up trying to fall back to sleep. I have been fighting off a cold, which is not surprising – I typically get sick right before I am going to see my mother/abuser. I went to bed very early (before 8:00 p.m.). Of course, my kid climbed into bed with me, and I cannot sleep with another person in the room, which is probably a contributing factor.

I woke up an hour ago and used my tools to try to fall back to sleep. My son and I watched the “Lost Episode” of SpongeBob earlier tonight, where it shows a couple of minutes of nothing but SpongeBob walking. I kept picturing that in my head, hoping that would knock me out. Right as my body was starting to drop off, my kid shifted, and I was wide awake again. Ugh.

So, I thought I would pound out this quick blog and then go grade some papers. If I cannot sleep now, I will need to sleep later, so might as well get work out of the way.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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As I have shared before, a weighted blanket has been very helpful in curing my insomnia. If you have been considering buying a weighted blanket but have not done so yet, now is your chance to win one! Go to the Dream Catcher’s website for details, or email any questions to giveaway@weightedblanket.net.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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A while ago, I wrote about my struggles with insomnia. I shared that I must pile blankets on top of myself in order to feel safe enough to fall asleep. Even in the summertime, I would cover myself with a sheet, a blanket, a quilt, another blanket folded in quarters, and a comforter folded in quarters. Even that was not always enough weight to make me feel safe.

In the comments of that blog entry, a reader named Cera told me about weighted blankets. I had never heard of such a product, so I checked out the link that Cera provided in her comment. This led me to the Dream Catcher website, where I learned all about weighted blankets.

The blankets are filled with heavy plastic beads that conform to your body when you lie under the blanket. You can choose whatever weight you want. I opted for a 15-pound blanket, which is the heaviest standard size they offer. (You can get your custom-made blanket heavier if you want. Also, I just found out that they actually have pre-made 25-pound blankets available.)

I have posted a picture of my weighted blanket. I love it and don’t know how I ever slept without it. (Thanks, Cera!!)

I no longer overheat when I sleep. The blanket offers me the weight I had been seeking without too much warmth, so I can use it comfortably as we move into summer. Whenever I move, the beads adjust to conform to my body. I feel like I am being hugged in a safe manner as I sleep.

What really surprised me was how much better I could rest as I slept. My dreams have been better since using the blanket. They are still disturbing at times but not to the degree that they were.

And here was a real shocker … I have never been able to sleep unless my door was closed. My son opened my door the other night. Typically, I will have to get up out of bed and close the door before I can even begin to think about falling back to sleep. I was so snug under my weighted blanket that I did not even care that the door was open! That has never happened to me before.

So, if you are having trouble sleeping at night, I highly recommend trying a weighted blanket. Yes, it is pricey, but it is well worth the cost. I would have paid a lot more to experience restful sleep.

To purchase a weighted blanket, go to Dream Catcher Blankets. They are running a sale in April. You can get a 10% discount with the promotion code “autism.”

Related Topic:

Trauma Thursday: Weighted Blankets for the Traumatized Child

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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Yesterday, I talked about dialing it back and shifting my focus from the dissociative identity disorder (DID) issues to the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) issues. (Isn’t my life fun??)

I have recently been recognizing just how f@#$ed up my sleep patterns are. My DID mostly shielded me from just how bad it was. I had (and still have) a wolf alter part that comes out at night to protect me while I sleep. Back when I still had DID, the wolf would take over while the host personality “lost time.” I saw this as sleeping very soundly when, in reality, I was dealing with all sorts of sleep issues.

Since my host personality integrated, I have stayed co-present when the wolf comes out. I always know that I am about to fall asleep when I feel the wolf come out.

I have had messed up sleep patterns forever, but for some reason, I am finally recognizing them for what they are. Here is my pattern:

  1. During the day — My version of “normal”
  2. Sun goes down – Headache
  3. Dark outside – Feel depressed
  4. Feel anxious/triggered
  5. Look for ways to make it stop – binge eat or drink alcohol
  6. Both tired and anxious as bedtime approaches
  7. Delay going to bed even though I am tired
  8. Go to bed late
  9. Wrap up tightly in blankets
  10. Wait for the wolf
  11. Experience nightmares
  12. Awaken at 3:00 a.m.

I cannot sleep unless all of the following happen:

  • Covered in heavy blankets, even during the summer
  • No breeze can touch my skin
  • Must breathe “new” air – cannot be warm (suffocation triggers)
  • White noise drowning out nighttime noises

This is clearly not normal. I could not do all of these things when I shared a room with hub, so I pretty much did not sleep very much or very well for over a decade.

Now, if I take a nap, I have no problem dropping off to sleep or sleeping very soundly. I also rarely have nightmares.

Obviously, this is not normal. These are all aftereffects from the child abuse. I would hear the door open and jerk awake. My mother would pull the covers off me, and I would feel a cool breeze hit my body. Those were always the first two signs that abuse was going to happen.

The fact that I went without the abuse for a few years and then it started again messed with my head, too. I cannot rest and feel assured that it won’t happen again. A part of myself is always on guard at night, waiting for the abuse to start again.

What blows my mind is that this has always been the case, but I am only recently recognizing just how serious this is. I also have no idea how to make it better. I frequently take sleep aids (herbal or over-the-counter sleeping pills) to help, but I don’t want to do that every night.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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CandleIn my last couple of posts, I have been talking about the joys of having my own room. Even though I am married, hub and I have our own rooms. I moved into the guest bedroom and then turned it into my own space, not because of marital issues but because of insomnia. Hub snores, and that noise coupled with the presence of another body in the room caused me to struggle with insomnia for over a decade.

When I shared a room with hub, I would go to bed earlier than he did. I did not have much trouble falling asleep initially. However, after he joined me, I would awaken repeatedly throughout the night, every night. I stayed dog-tired during the day because of his. Now that I have my own room, I generally sleep well. However, moving into my own room was only the first step.

I keep a strong scent of vanilla in my room. I do this by burning a vanilla-scented candle for about 30 minutes before I go to bed each night. I generally do yoga and meditation during this time, but I will burn the candle even if I do not do these activities just to help reduce my hypervigilance. According to The Smell Report, the scent of vanilla calms the startle reflex in both people and animals. I have found this to be true for me.

The reason I started doing yoga and meditation before bedtime was to help with my insomnia, and that has been very effective. Doing both activities before bedtime calms my mind and body. The deep breathing is wonderful preparation for sleeping. In most cases, I have no insomnia issues if I do yoga before going to bed.

Having a lock on my bedroom door is also helpful. I do not lock it often because I want my son to be able to reach me if he needs me during the night. However, if I am dealing with flashbacks or have a nightmare, locking the door helps calm my anxiety and enables me to fall back to sleep faster.

Running an air purifier really helps me to stay asleep because it masks the sounds of the night. Even very light “settling” sounds will jolt me awake, so having the white noise from the air purifier helps to mask those noises. I run a humidifier during the winter for the same purpose.

Do you have any tips for how to fight insomnia after child abuse?

Related topic:

How to Cure Insomnia After Child Abuse

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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