Sleep is one of my favorite activities! I am not a pleasant person if I have not gotten enough sleep, especially in the morning. The problem with having an anxiety disorder is getting to sleep can be quite the challenge. I am not one of those people who can just jump into bed and fall asleep. I have a crazy process to get myself to sleep.
Bedtime would be amazing if I could just shut my brain off. It does not matter how tired I am the moment I get into bed and the quiet starts; my mind starts racing. For the most part these thoughts are harmless and I can usually get myself settled. The problem is when things seem to get out of control.
There have been many nights when I head to bed and all those things I have not wanted to deal with start creeping up in my mind. Something as simple as wondering why I haven't heard from someone in a while can quickly start to blow up into so much more in my mind. It doesn't seem very long from that point that my mind turns very negative.
A variety of things can happen at this point. I usually text one of my poor friends with what is usually a very self deprecating claim. My friends have been amazing at talking me down and usually getting me to focus on what is really bothering me. Every day I am amazed how they have stuck by my side and never texted me back, "get a life".
The harder nights are when I become very irrational. I can not get out of my mind and more often then not I start having physical symptoms. I remember the first time this happened. I had always believed that a panic attack was when you felt like you couldn't breath. I did not get those symptoms. Instead I had the strangest sensation in my leg. At the time I did not realize it was a panic attack.
My legs felt as if they were being electrocuted and the only way to stop the feeling was to run. So I found myself running through my apartment at four in the morning. I'm sure the people downstairs loved me. Once I realized this was not going to work I sat in a ball crying and rocking back and forth. I then did the only thing I knew could possible help, pray. Thankfully it wasn't long and God calmed me and I was able to sleep.
This happened several years ago and since then I have learned a lot about myself and anxiety. I now have a routine that I do to try and avoid these restless nights. Yes they do still happen on occasion but I am usually able to calm myself with prayer and or oils. I have not taken medication for anxiety attacks for a couple months now. Not that I am against medications, I recently had an allergic reaction for the one I was using.
So what does my night time routine look like? First, I really try to avoid my electronics right before I go to bed. This is one that I struggle with the most. I love information and for some reason because I can not switch my brain off; I think of the weirdest things I want to 'google' minutes before I should be falling asleep. If I had an apartment or house I would probably avoid having them in the room all together.
Second, I found things to calm myself and my mind. I found that I need either a fan or music playing. I can focus on those sounds and not what is going on in my mind. I also apply two to three of the Young Living oils on my feet. Cappy also enjoys having these put on at bed time. I sleep with no socks because as my friends and family describe it, I do a weird cricket thing with my feet until I fall asleep, You can laugh, I know it is weird.
Last if I'm still struggling I put on the sleep mask; the darkness helps me to further shut down my mind. If you struggle with sleep I really recommend looking online and following the recommendations. Find something that works for you. I think when we get appropriate sleep we have better relationships and make better choices during the day.