I’m an insomniac and have been for a long, long time. Bedtime, for me, is torture. I’m like that child who resists going to sleep. I don’t want to give up the day. I’m too restless to settle down. And let’s not forget the nighttime monsters. These are not the imaginary monsters of yore, the kind that disappeared between the closet doors when my father turned on the lights. No, these are the monsters of adulthood: anxiety, stress, and the biggest monster of all…insomnia.
One night as I lay in bed humming to myself, it occurred to me that I needed expert advice on how to lull my inner restless child to sleep. So I reached out to Lori Lite, mommy, blogger, and the author of Stress Free Kids, A Parent’s Guide, for some tips. She was kind enough to answer my questions as my first guest blogger (woo-hoo!)
So, dear readers, if you too struggle with insomnia, read on to learn how to turn bedtime into sleepy time.
photo: Lori Lite
In your book, Stress Free Kids, you share a host of helpful techniques for parents to use to make bedtime a more inviting experience for children. But what if the child who refuses to go to bed is our own inner rascal? Can we use these same techniques with modifications, or do you have any new tricks to recommend?
You can absolutely use the same techniques I suggest for children. The techniques I teach children are the very same techniques used for adults. They become child-friendly because they are woven into a storytelling format. Affirmations, progressive muscular relaxation, visualizing, and breathing are my “staples” when it comes to insomnia.
You can learn these techniques by listening to Indigo Dreams: Adult Relaxation or give your inner child a real treat and allow yourself to enjoy the story format of Indigo Dreams or Indigo Ocean Dreams. Either way, you will learn tools you can access to reduce anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
For a new trick and since you mentioned your “inner restless child.” I would suggest taking a moment to talk to your inner child. Tell her how she is loved and you look forward to playing tomorrow. Let her know it is OK to rest and give her a hug. …. you will be surprised how quickly your inner rascal will settle down when you acknowledge her. It is important to stay in touch with your inner child so that you can remain playful when life wants you to be constantly serious.
A mindful mantra I mention In my new book, Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide, is this: “Just for today I will let my inner child come out and play. My children will remember me as a mom who had time to play.”
Let’s say that the “child” drifted off into sweet slumber. But at three o’clock in the morning, the wee one is wide awake again. What’s a “parent” to do?
Waking up is not the problem. The mind list and mind chatter that follows is what will keep you up. It is important to shut down the mind chatter that starts to run through your brain. I like to quiet my mind by filling my brain with a soothing color. Try this- “Visualize a color swirling in and around your head. Feel the color behind your forehead and nose. See it filling your sinus cavities and soothing your jaw. Let the color wash away all of your thoughts and worries….leaving your mind completely still.” Relax your eyes and focus on your breathing. You should fall back to sleep.
When “sleep” to the inner kid becomes less of a soothing activity and more like something to avoid, what techniques can ease the way?
You can have a routine in place that your inner child looks forward to. Revisit the things you enjoyed when you were a child. Did you spend time putting puzzles together? If so, treat yourself to working on a puzzle before bedtime. Did you love bubble baths? Fill your tub up with lots of bubbles. Puzzles and bubbles are great relaxing activities that will feed your childlike soul. A Stress-Less Activity for bedtime that I recommend in my Stress Free Kids book is to create a kid spa. “Turn bathtub time into relaxing spa time by letting your child play with a cup filled with baking soda. It is inexpensive and fully dissolves in the water, while softening and soothing skin. It amps up the alkalinity of the water and is said to aid in detoxifying. The silky water creates a luxurious feel that even kids can’t resist.” Focus on relaxation and sleep will follow.
Any other thoughts you want to share on the subject?
Bedtime can be tricky. Tap into your creativity and find what works for your inner child. Have fun turning your bedroom into a relaxation oasis. Give yourself a winding down period where you nurture yourself. Your inner child is likely looking for more emphasis on self-care. Don’t expect to go from energy level of 100 to sleep energy of 10. Enjoy the process of relaxation.
Where can my readers find you on the web?
Please visit http://www.stressfreekids.com where you will be directed to packages of books and CDs that suit your child’s age range. Sign up to receive my blog posts. Follow me on Twitter @StressFreeKids and Facebook. I am very active on both and love to share tips that keep parents inspired.
On behalf of insomniacs everywhere, thanks for the great tips, Lori!
How long have you battled insomnia? That is such an unorthodox way of approaching it! Has it worked for you so far?
Insomnia has been an unwelcome guest since I was in my teens. I have periods of sleeping well, and then hello, insomnia is back! I love Lori’s ideas of nurturing the inner child and using relaxation, visualization, and quieting routines to get to sleep. I tried the “swirling colors” suggestion when I woke up last night and it worked! It’s nice to have a plethora of tools to choose from, in addition to the regular “sleep hygiene” suggestions. It also works for me to stick to regular times for going to bed and waking up (so my body knows that this is “sleepy time”), dimming the lights an hour before bedtime (the golden hour), doing something soothing (as Lori suggests), and meditating for five minutes before I get in bed.
Great piece! Like the tips…I’ll give them a try!!
Yay! Let me know if they work for you.