PTSD does not allow for much resting.  Hyper-vigilance, insomnia, mind in overdrive are just a few of the emotional/physical states that make it hard to rest.  Making myself wake up early do more, work harder, trying to ‘prove’ I’m good enough is not the mindset of a person that gets rest.  I am learning that I can do things to help myself rest.  Locking myself in my room is a useful way to create a place I feel safe enough to relax and rest.  A routine to help me get ready for rest or sleep actually stresses me out.  I am thinking in the back of my mind, “I have to go to sleep soon…oh no what if I have nightmares?…..what if the bogey man is real?……I’ve had horrible things happen before, will they happen again?”  Yea, the advice given for most people to get a good night rest and sleep is not helpful.  Bummer.  I am learning that a night time routine does help.  Ok when I have X Y Z done I can attempt to go to sleep but its ok if I don’t.  Yes I am being redundant on the OKs.  I am trying to reassure myself that I have permission to stay awake…say what?  Perhaps it is a bit of a reverse psychology but giving myself permission to stay awake actually helps me to go to sleep.  Contrary little soul.  😉  On bad nights, doing something repetitive and boring can help me wind down enough to rest and sleep.  I am making a distinction between rest and sleep.  For years, I told doctors what time I went to bed and what time I woke up.  What I didn’t tell was how little I slept during that time.  Years before someone told me that laying with your eyes closed in the dark is the same as sleeping….it isn’t.  One of the medical tests I took was measuring the brainwaves while I was awake and then asleep.  The tech doing the test knew exactly when I went to sleep because the brain waves start to spike.  That is right spikes of increased energy going on inside the head during sleep.  I learned to separate rest time from sleep time.  Also I now recognize that I need rest time after an emotionally exhausting experience.  Counseling requires no other obligations that night.  As a treat, I go visit a daughter-in-law and grandkids.  The goal for me is to find things that allow my body to ratchet down a few notches.  Eventually, I plan to try some meditation but if I can’t sit quietly for 3 minutes, meditation is so not happening yet.  That is ok.  (Yes, I am giving myself permission not to mediate.)  I am redefining resting for me.  My definition of resting is doing only 5 things instead of 15.  Set time limits on large projects.  Take breaks….and actually rest during those breaks.  I noticed on the days I allow myself to rest, I am more likely to sleep better at night.  On particularly bad nights, I give myself permission to sleep on the couch with the light on.  This is not a punishment.  Sleeping on the couch has the advantage that my back is covered.  I can sleep facing out and cover my back.  The light on is such a relief, when I wake up I am not confused as to where I am.  I can look around the room and assure myself, ‘I am not in my past.’  I experiment with different ways of preparing to sleep.  I experimenting to find out what I feel is restful.  I discovered recently that crocheting is somewhat soothing.  I stress out trying to read the patterns but I am not reading a pattern right now.  I am crocheting an ugly scarf.  Dropping stitches and adding stitches is all ok.  (You notice that I am reassuring myself again?)  I need lots of reassurance that it is ok to rest and sleep.  I am not being bad for putting my feet up.  I’m ready to go to sleep now…Good night.

“Sleep is a weapon!”

Robert Ludlum, author of the Jason Bourne series

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