Guest Post by Andrea

Lack of sleep is common when you are raising infants. But what happens when your infants have reached their teens and you still can’t sleep?

Insomnia affects millions of people but is 41% more prevalent in women than in men. For me, lack of sleep has meant I’m not capable of being the mother I want to be. I’ve found myself drifting off in the afternoons or needing to lie down and power nap – even if for just 15 minutes. I’ve also found myself having to tell the kids I’m too tired to participate in things. Really, I dread admitting it, but the affect of my insomnia has led to feelings of failure as a mother and general unhappiness.

In an attempt to cure my insomnia, I went to see my doctor. Once it was determined nothing was wrong with me health-wise, he offered to put me on medication. As desperate as I was to find sleep, I refused medication because I didn’t want to feel drugged if my kids should need something in the middle of the night.

After my doctors visit, I did some research and decided to approach my insomnia in a more natural way.

These are the most recommended first steps to aiding you in getting sleep:

  • Check Your Vitamins and Herbal Supplements. Do you take anything that is known to inhibit sleep? I tried taking CoQ-10 for its energy enhancing properties because of my lack of sleep. However, I found it worked so well, it revved me up to the point that it made it more difficult to get to sleep.
  • Check Your Sleep Environment. Having a room at a cooler temperature enhances the ability to sleep. I found I had to experiment with both the thermostat and bedding types. Try natural materials such as cotton, down and wool to find just the right amount of warmth to aide in your ability to fall and stay asleep.
  • Try Soothing Beverages. A mug of warm milk with a dash of nutmeg really is a proven sleep enhancer. If dairy is not a part of your diet, try chamomile tea. Again, this natural herb has long been revered for its calming, sleep-inducing properties.

Next, identify whether you have trouble falling asleep versus not being able to get back to sleep after waking in the night.

If your insomnia stems from not being able to fall asleep, try either of the following prior to getting into bed:

  • Fill a tub large enough for your feet with ankle deep warm water. Soak your feet for at least 10 minutes. Adding lavender essence or oil to the water aides in the soothing effect.
  • Try lying on your back with your feet and legs positioned so they are up a wall and your body is at a 90 degree angle. Hold this pose for 10 minutes.

If you have no trouble falling asleep but find that you wake up and can’t fall back asleep, try the following while remaining in bed:

  • Breath in for a quick count of four. Hold your breath for a quick count of four. Release your breath for the count of four. Hold your breath out for the count of four. Repeat until you are naturally breathing in this slow, steady rhythm.
  • Repeat to yourself, “Empty your mind.” Then imagine yourself doing just that. Every time your mind wanders, come back to trying to have no thoughts at all.

Every step listed above – whether for falling asleep or getting back to sleep – is meant to get you to a place where you can then embrace the single most important step to getting to sleep. That step?

Pray.

Use the above techniques to relax you and to focus your mind, then open up your heart and turn every last little thing over to God. He made the day, and He made the night, and He made the night because our precious Creator knew we needed rest. Whatever is occupying your mind and preventing you from getting precious sleep, needs to be given to God. Nothing is too small for Him – not even your grocery list. Give it to Him and sleep will come.

Prayer has been the single most effective way of curing the nights when I suffer from insomnia. Such a simple solution but one that has had a lasting impact on my ability to sleep. I still wake up and find it difficult to turn my mind off. However, once I turn those thoughts into prayers, sleep is never far behind. I encourage you to try it and please let me know how it works for you!

Andrea is married to the man who sat behind her in 8th grade French class. Together they have 2 great children. She can be found at The Greenbacks Gal, a blog dedicated to all the ways of Saving Green, Making Green, Going Green, and Growing Green.

Flickr Photo by Dogs & Music