Getting To Sleep With A Chatter-Box Brain

Sometimes I lie in bed, anxiously waiting for my brain to shut up.  My brain goes on and on with random thoughts; chatting away excitedly, all while I just sit there, silently  watching the minutes pass by on the clock.  My brain often times doesn’t get the hint that I want to go to sleep.

I have an arsenal of sleep techniques, which include taking a warm bath, reading the words most boring books, playing audio-books & sleep stories, watching “Moving Art” on Netflix, and/or listening to white-noise apps.  In worst case scenarios, possibly taking Melatonin.  But, for me, the most effective way to get to sleep has been guided mediations.

Guided mediation is like a sleep-story, but instead of just listening to the narrator tell you a story, you focus on the narrator as he/she guides you into relaxation.  Basically, helping you obtain self-awareness.  Sometimes is a visual guide (like relaxing on a beach) or a basic guide to breathing and relaxing the body.  The entire point is to calm your busy brain and relax the body.

I may have shared this before, but I tell ya, I love these guys!  The Honest Guys, on YouTube.  They have amazing guided mediation videos and if you aren’t much of a visual person, just the sounds alone are peaceful enough to induce relaxation.

Below is one of my favorite videos I listen to that help me go to sleep.  I love it for several reasons:

  1. It’s a short video, only 30 minutes, but for whatever reason, I am out like a light before it’s over!
  2. The deep breathing exercise, in this particular video, is different than some of their other videos.   Instead of just taking in a few deep breaths, this video guides you along a breathing technique called “4-7-8 breathing,” in which, studies have shown to help the nervous system relax.
  3. This video also guides you through your noisy brain, by helping you return to the present moment, rather than floating off into the future or dwelling behind in the past.I have noticed that if I truly focus on listening to the guided mediation, my noisy brain does fade away into the background.
  4. The guide (Rick Clarke) speaks with a slow, whispered deep voice.  It is the whispering of his voice that seems to produce a feeling of relaxation, which is an interesting phenomenon, known as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response).  This is actually a new trend that is supposedly therapeutic for those with depression, insomnia, and anxiety.Even the popular App, Calm, has ASMR “sleep” stories, in which their sleep stories are narrated with a whisper.  For me, I personally prefer listening to Calm’s Sleep Stories narrated by Matthew McConaughey. 🙂
  5. The sounds are of really good quality and thus, I totally recommend a pair of headphones.  The sounds are perfectly balanced and serene.  The music is calming and the nature sounds are not distorted, too loud, or fake.I mean, to me,  there are some videos (and apps) out there where ocean waves just sound like tv static.   It’s terrible!

However, I have learned, that for this guided meditation to be most effective, you must put forth some effort, especially, if you have a really chatty brain, in listening to the guided mediation and doing the breathing exercises – otherwise, it’s no different than having a radio station playing in the background.

Last night, my brain was super chatty and I kept wandering away from the guided meditation.  So, I re-started the guided mediation with the full intent to focus on the sounds of the meditation and without even realizing it, my brain shut up (or faded in the background) and I eventually fell asleep.

If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, please give this a try.  I know it may not work for everyone, but it never hurts to try, especially, if nothing else seems to help.  Please have an open mind and hope you enjoy.  ❤

Oh, another thing… The Honest Guys are so cool, they have visual guided mediations that are Lord of the Rings themed!

Insomnia From An Insomniac

Given the chance to go to bed early, I would, because I am a natural early bird; however, something is wrong with my body clock. IMG-1002It isn’t broken, but “set back,” due to the insomniacs in the family.  My husband and our preschooler are natural night owls; whereas, our youngest and I, are far from nocturnal- we enjoy sleeping.  Sadly, each of our sleep schedules clashes with the other; making it extremely difficult, for anybody to enjoy a good nights rest.

Bad Habits Winning Over Good Habits

“If you live with a slob, you become a slob….”

In the beginning, my husband had a lot of bad habits (of course, I did too…we’re both human) and it was a constant tug-a-war between his bad habits (being a slob) and my good habits (being organized).  It took a couple of years, but we eventually found a balance.  Although my husband has better habits today, his old ways still kick in every once in awhile when I am not around; for example, his own personal space in the house is a mess (drives me crazy, but its his space).  But, I must admit, his messy lazy habits are extremely stress-free and there was a time when I took up on his bad habits (letting the house go).  I realized what had happened…subconsciously I had gone down the path of least resistance.  It was easier to be lazy and messy, but again, it was also unsanitary, gross, and stinky.  Fortunately, that phase didn’t last very long and “good” habits triumphed over the “bad” habits.   My point is, that it is so easy to pick up on bad habits without even thinking about it.  

Not True Insomnia

I do not have Insomnia; however, I cannot seem to fall asleep any earlier than 1am.

I developed poor sleeping habits by staying up with my insomniac husband. Totally not his fault that I cannot fall asleep at a decent hour anymore.

My husband has true insomnia and cannot go to bed until early in the morning (2am-3am) forcing his body to function on 5 hours of sleep during the work week.  I, however, require 7-8 hours of sleep or I get physically sick.  I have no tolerance for lack of sleep.  So, even though I am not able to fall asleep until 1am, I do manage to get in my 7-8 hours.  The problem with this, is that I sleep in late; something that must change when the kids begin school. Fortunately for me, I can readjust my sleep schedule back to normal; it just takes time. 

Without The Right Conditions, I’m Wide Awake

Falling asleep, when the rest of the family is wide awake, can be challenging; especially, if your own body requires more Z’s.  I have tried, many times, to coax my husband and our preschooler onto a healthier, earlier sleep schedule, but it doesn’t last for very long.

If the conditions are right, (with a dark, quiet, cold room), I have no problem going to sleep, but I cannot go to sleep with two insomniacs roaming around the house.  Our house is tiny, so tiny that if one person is up, we’re all up.

My husband is a late night video gamer; in which, I personally believe doesn’t help with insomnia.  However, without video games to occupy his time stuck wake, he’d just pace back and forth until dawn.  So, I say, game on!

I don’t mind that my husband plays video games, so long as it doesn’t interfere with family life.  Unfortunately, he is a loud video gamer.  Listening from the other room, he sounds like a soldier, loudly barking orders into his headset, as if he were on a noisy turbulent helicopter flying through a massive war attack.  Apparently, video games can be extremely exciting.

I have difficultly sleeping through the excitement; despite him being in another room.

The Defiant Little Night Owl

Our preschooler is a natural night owl (supposedly genetic).  Unlike her father though, she still requires about 10 hours of sleep; otherwise she makes Oscar the Grouch seem quite pleasant.  Anyways, as a parent, I have to get her on an earlier sleep schedule for school and her defiance (as a strong-willed child) is going to require that I start now rather than just a few months before school begins.  May the challenge begin!

Although we’ve always had a consistent bedtime routine (starting at 8pm), the sleep portion of this routine often varies.  So, even though the so-called experts say a consistent bedtime routine is the best way to get kids to go to bed early, doesn’t work for everyone.  It works for our youngest, but not our preschooler as I have discovered there are two things that affect our preschooler’s sleep schedule:

  • Strong-Willed Child
  • Premature Birth

Our preschooler was born 3 months early with a fiery strong-willed defiant personality.  She will not go to bed unless everyone is going to bed.  At first, I thought she was afraid of missing out of something, but later I realized, she just doesn’t think it is “fair” that she has to go to bed while others are still awake (even parents).

Also, being born as early as she was, she has some sensory issues.  At night, even though she is tired, her body is quite restless.  Also, she doesn’t like the feel of sheets or certain types of pajamas.  Even the temperature in the room makes her restless.  Finding solutions has been challenging.

Falling Asleep To Sleep Stories With Calm 

no affiliated links

With a few changes made and a bit of dedication, the kids and I, are generally asleep by 11pm now.  Not the ideal bedtime I want for my kids, but it is much better than going to sleep at 1am.  The biggest change was creating a better sleep environment for everyone.

When it is time for bed, the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool; not frozen Arctic cold or anything, just comfortably cool.  As for our little night owl, strong-willed children (well, most children) have to feel in control.  She picks out her own pajama’s, chooses her own bedtime books, and turns off her own light.  There are power struggles every so often, but for the most part, it is fine.  The ultimate game changer to getting us to fall asleep earlier, has been ambient noises to drown out my husband’s video-game adventures from the living room.

I discovered an App called Calm.  

Personally, I like free-apps and rarely buy anything more than $1.99; but this one has proven to be worth the pricey subscription; plus, I like listening to Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice.  🙂

The Calm app is a mix of ambient noises, guided meditations, music, and more interestingly,  “Sleep Stories.”  What the heck is a sleep story?

A sleep story is a 15-45 minute audio-book that is narrated by soothing voices like Stephen Fry and Bob Ross (and other voices too).  The stories are quiet, slow paced, and relaxing.  Most stories sound like guided mediations for sleep as you embark on a sleep-story journey.

The best stories are those for kids.  We have yet been able to listen all the way through the Little Mermaid Sleep Story, for that we all fall asleep just before she rescues the prince from the sea.  This is certainly an App to have if you have trouble falling asleep.  My husband, when he is finally ready for sleep, enjoys the sounds of the ocean and he says, it helps him get to sleep faster.

Image result for Calm app
Available online, IOS, and Android

 

Wishing Everyone A Good Night’s Rest

I can’t imagine what it is like living with insomnia, but I do hope the little sleep those with Insomnia do get is at least pleasant and peaceful.

 

Do you use IOS / Android apps to sleep?  Which are your favorite?  Which do you least recommend?