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