Sleep Improving, Still Disordered

What is it like to sleep all night, every night? Will I ever know? Is this actually a myth and most people don’t sleep regularly either?


I have made so many changes in my lifestyle, and nothing has yet rewarded me with the ability to sleep. I know there are psychological issues here still, leftover feelings of fear related to the nightly attacks of my abusive father. I know this, I do. But I keep trying to make physical changes in the hopes it will override the apparently deeply ingrained psychological ones.

Whatever I have done must be helping, because I don’t feel like sleeping all day long any more. In fact the kids go to school, I have a quiet house, and I thought I would be headed for my usual morning naps. I even laid down a few times out of habit, and realized I had no desire to sleep.

Changes I made:

  • Set a bedtime at a strict no later than midnight. I have actually been falling asleep  initially earlier than this, I just can’t stay asleep all night long. I have found that my brain is childish and I have to fool it into going to sleep by watching TV or reading and drifting off that way. If I look directly at sleeping, it will never show itself.
  • Bought a TV for the bedroom. Now I can watch TV and fall asleep in bed, instead of falling asleep on the couch and dragging myself up to bed at some point. Trying to make new habits here and make sleep intentional at some point.
  • Less Caffeine. I love caffeine. I like coffee and I like tea (woah – just heard a song in my head, see below) but I really want to sleep better, so I reduced my caffeine by 1/2 so far. Making coffee is such a habit, and so soothing to me that I didn’t want to remove that. And the headaches are terrible if you just stop. SO for a few months now I get my regular coffee, and decaf, and mix them together to make my own 1/2 caff. That way I get the flavor I want. I don’t feel any different – at all, so not sure this had made any measurable difference. I’ve been drinking lattes since my first pregnancy anyway, 1/2 milk and 1/2 coffee in my cup. My cups of coffee actually have 1/4 caffeine than usual.
  • Less Dairy Milk. I have a lot of tummy issues, some from stress, some maybe from the spinal cord injury, no one really knows. I know that lots of dairy at once gives me pain, so I have been reducing dairy overall. I now make my lattes with soy or almond milk.
  • More vitamin D. Last year a blood test showed my vitamin D to be on the low end. They gave me super Rx D pills then, and now I make sure to get more sun (any sun – I really used to hide indoors mostly) and keep up the D supplements. I can’t say I feel any different from this though either.
  • Less sugar. I used to be a constant snacker and got myself hyper sensitive to sugar and sugar crashes. Last year I practically eliminated sugar and carbs and had a high protein/fat diet. I am happy to say I have lost the hypoglycemic response, can eat a normal meal, or even have a dessert without getting sick. I think I used to sugar crash in the middle of the night and have sugar hangovers – those are all gone. Yay!
  • Move my body more. I am overall much more active. I bop around the house doing chores all day, I take dance classes, I use wii fit, and make sure to do intentional exercise every day, even if only a few minutes here and there. I do have to be careful, it is easy to over do it and end up with whopping nerve pain in my back and legs and have to recover for a few days. And I do this fairly often, because my obsessive personality wants me to finish a job once I start, so cleaning a room may turn into 12 hours straight if I’m not paying attention.
  • Reduce Triggers. This is a tough one. If anyone touches me when I am semi-asleep, I immediately panic and sometimes flashback. This is tough, because although I like to snuggle with Hubby before I fall asleep, I need him to give me space and not touch me after I fall asleep. He’s doing so well with this rule and I really appreciate it. I hope this isn’t forever, but it is what I need now to feel safe. 16 years of not feeling safe at night will not reverse quickly I think. Sadly, this panic extends to my kids. If they have a bad dream and come to wake me, I have the same surge of fear and have to hold it in and control it to comfort the kiddo. And last night, we all climbed into my bed to watch the new TV in there, it was so cozy that I fell asleep there, about 8pm. For a few minutes, until the kids touched, nudged and worked me into a panic. I screamed for them to get out and leave me alone. Hubby took them all to their own beds, leaving me alone there, but it took me a while to re-center and convince myself I was safe again.
  • Eliminate stress. Hahahahahaha. If anyone knows how to actually do this, please let me know. I am a huge ball of stress.
  • Reduce Stress. OK, I must have accompished this one, because I have not been waking up with nightmares or sleep panic attacks (those are terrible if you’ve ever had them, wake up choking and terrified)
  • Sleep less during the day. This has happened all on its own. I don’t think I’m sleeping more at night, as it is usually 1-2am when I remember looking at the clock, and the alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Not a ton of sleep can be happening here, but it must be better quality because like I said earlier, I actually can’t nap during the day any more. I want to, I think it would do me good, but the sleep doesn’t happen anymore. I used to nod off any where, any time, and used to struggle driving and fighting off the sleepiness. And I get right up out of bed now. It used to feel like a fog blanketed my mind, and a heavy weight was on my body. That used to be the hardest part of my day – simply getting out of bed. I remember what it used to feel like, like a daily morning flu making everything hurt, even my brain.
  • Avoid getting older. Yes, another joke. Just wanted to add that pre-menopause is knocking on my door and I have started some fun hot flashes and night sweats at certain points in my cycle. It is soooo much fun being a woman. Stupid hormones. Watch out Hubby, I can’t say you haven’t been warned.

All in all I think I’m on the right path for me. Little improvements that don’t seem like much each day, but when I think back to a  year ago, I am so much healthier now, and able to do so much more with my life. Oh, and I actually enjoy my life now, mostly. I think that goes a long way to wanting to stay awake during the day.


Here’s the song that popped into my head, the coffee and tea line is near the end.

You can have it stuck all day too – you’re welcome. 🙂





Once upon a midnight dreary
I woke with something in my head
I couldn’t escape the memory
Of a phone call and of what you said

Like a game show contestant with a parting gift
I could not believe my eyes
When I saw through the voice of a trusted friend
Who needs to humor me and tell me lies
Yeah, humor me and tell me lies

And I’ll lie too and say I don’t mind
And as we seek so shall we find
And when you’re feeling open I’ll still be here
But not without a certain degree of fear
Of what will be with you and me
I still can see things hopefully

But you
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

And shake me and my confidence
About a great many things
But I’ve been there I can see it cower
Like a nervous magician waiting in the wings

Of a bad play where the heroes are right
And nobody thinks or expects too much
And Hollywood’s calling for the movie rights
Singing hey babe let’s keep in touch
Hey baby let’s keep in touch

But I want more than a touch I want you to reach me
And show me all the things no one else can see
So what you feel becomes mine as well
And soon if we’re lucky we’d be unable to tell
What’s yours and mine, the fishing’s fine
And it doesn’t have to rhyme, so don’t you feed me a line

But you
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

Tra la la la la bombardier this is the pilot speaking
And I’ve got some news for you
It seems my ship still stands no matter what you drop
And there ain’t a whole lot that you can do

Oh sure the banner may be torn and the wind’s gotten colder
Perhaps I’ve grown a little cynical
But I know no matter what the waitress brings
I shall drink it and always be full
Yeah, I will drink it and always be full

Oh I like coffee, and I like tea
I’d like to be able to enter a final plea
I still got this dream that you just can’t shake
I love you to the point you can no longer take

Well all right okay
So be that way, I hope and pray
That there’s something left to say…

For you, now
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

Oh, yeah, now
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down


4 thoughts on “Sleep Improving, Still Disordered

  1. Maybe this will help, a little: Take eliminate stress off the table. You’re setting yourself up to fail. If there is no stress in your life, you’re dead. Stress can be good or bad. You’re body can’t tell the difference. Your emotions determine the difference in your head. Accepting that stress is simply a part of life, like breathing, it becomes instead a matter of learn to better manage stress, ie, not allowing the stress to take center stage. That’s a matter of practice, which you are already doing. Woohoo! Success! 😉 Instead of soy or almond milk (hate the first and allergic to the second), I use coconut milk to help me reduce my milk. I love milk. It doesn’t love me. Coconut milk is less expensive than lactose-free milk. Interestingly enough, my knees don’t hurt anymore. I don’t know many people who actually sleep through the night. I do sometimes. Most people I know wake in the middle of the night. Actually, I found an article about 1st and 2nd sleep. As it turns out, before electricity, we didn’t sleep through the night. We went to bed not long after dark. Slept for a few hours. Woke up for a few hours, and then went back to sleep until dawn. During those waking hours, you can guess what couples did or a candle was light to read or one simply rested in bed, awake. It wasn’t uncommon. Something to consider. I don’t beat myself up when I wake at 2am anymore. I let myself be awake for a bit, and I’m able to go back to sleep more easily. Of course, there are days when I wake at 2am, and I’m awake for the day. Most important: I don’t beat myself up over it.

    • Judy, this was very helpful! Yes I know no one can eliminate stress, but it was actually listed that way in some “How to sleep better” articles so I had to include that as a joke. So I did include reduce stress, but I like your explanation better, that it is more about accepting stress, coping and handling than it is about removing it.

      Coconut milk, eh? I’m not sure what that’s like in coffee, but I’m willing to try. I was actually just reading about the anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil, maybe that’s true for milk too.

      And the 2nd sleep practice is news to me, but certainly makes sense. I read about it when you mentioned it, and it is really interesting how technology has changed our lives and our expectations. Fascinating!

      OK – I will stop trying to sleep perfectly and stop beating myself up about it. It’s just I have stopped beating myself up in so many other areas, I think I was holding onto sleeping, lol. I’m just so anxious to be healthy and stay healthy, and ward off any SAD that may be coming my way this winter.


  2. To a certain degree you body will dictate how you sleep. We sleep differently than our ancestors slept, which might surprise you. The entire idea of sleeping a straight 7 – 9 hours per night would have been a strange concept to them. If you read books written during middle ages you will often see references to split sleep. These both would last approximately 3-4 hours the first being early in the evening, broken by a period of work of 2-4 hours then followed by second sleep. It is proposed this is why families were larger also. It wasn’t until the modern age, which includes electric lighting we changed our normal pattern of sleeping. I sleep in split sleep cycle, always have and simply no longer attempt to force myself to do otherwise. There are a number of studies about this available. Judy is correct about the split sleep.

    • I think that is fascinating and makes so much sense! I am so glad you lovely ladies shared this with me. I do have a natural tendency to wake after 3-4 hours and feel really great and alert, whereas I feel foggy and groggy if I sleep longer. I guess this is another area where mindfulness comes into play and actually listening to my body and what it needs, rather than trying to listen to pop advice and make myself fit that. You have no idea what a relief that is to me. I’ll stop trying to fix my sleep cycle, because it must be ok if I am full of energy and not sleepy all day anymore. I’ve noticed my kids get restless around 12-1 am too, 1 rolls and thrashes about, one has entire sleep talk conversations. Thanks for your comment!!

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