Friday, November 07, 2008

Boring? Yes. Useful? Possibly.

Since Cleo's still waking up three or four times a night, I get a lot of practice in going back to sleep. It might be my chronic sleep deprivation, but I think I've worked out a good method over the last few months.

I tried reviewing my day in my head, but that just resulted in anxiety over all the things I hadn't done, and a longer to-do list.

I tried thinking of boring things, like sheep, but it was too boring, and my mind would drift back to the to-do list.

I tried a yoga-style progressive relaxation, but there was too much stuff to remember.

I tried an lengthening-exhalation relaxation I learned in our Hypnobirthing class, but it always made me feel like I wasn't doing it right. Not relaxing.

So, I ended up with a combination of things that works really well for me. Starting with my head and moving south, with each exhalation I say (to myself--no need to wake the whole family) each area of tension. Just the one word per exhalation. And, of course, focus on relaxing that area.

So, like this: Inhale. Exhale forehead. Inhale. Exhale jaw. Inhale. Exhale neck. I'm usually asleep by the knees. If not, I start over at the feet and work up.

It's just enough structure to keep my mind from spinning and drifting, it eases tension without getting too woo-woo about it (no auras or light or mantras to remember). But it's simple enough that my brain can keep doing it even as it's falling asleep.

So, having trouble getting enough sleep? First do the obvious things: cut out caffeine and alcohol, dim the lights in the evening, get some exercise in the afternoon, and don't share your bedroom with an infant. If you've tried all of the above, try my method. Maybe it'll help. Or maybe thinking about how boring this post was will send you to sleep even quicker. Either way, I live to serve.

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