This post is part of an editorial series, “Sweet Sleep,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and insight as your navigate your family’s sleep journey.
Being a mom takes a lot of energy. Eating healthy, exercise, and getting plenty of rest is key to keeping up with the kiddos and life in general. Most of us are in control of how well we take care of ourselves, but insomnia can definitely throw a wrench in the works when you are trying to get enough rest.
I went through a terrible struggle with insomnia that lasted a couple of years. By bedtime, I was exhausted and ready for bed, and usually I fell asleep really fast, but I just couldn’t stay asleep.
After a couple of hours I would wake up and my brain just wouldn’t shut off. Nothing helped. I tried not drinking anything after 7:00 p.m. to avoid waking up to use the bathroom. I stopped caffeine after lunch in case that was the culprit. I got in bed at least an hour before I needed to fall asleep in order to read and calm my mind. I tried meditating. I tried medicating. I tried it all. Nothing I did helped and after a couple of years of battling insomnia I was at my wit’s end.
Apps to the Rescue
I’m a researcher by nature, and while researching insomnia hacks I discovered sleep apps. I started out with a White Noise app for my phone, and I was very encouraged by how much it helped me get back to sleep when I would wake up in the middle of the night. I went for the full version, which costs $0.99 on iOs, Android, and Apple TV. There’s a huge range of different sounds from thunderstorms (my favorite), ocean waves, fire crackles, vacuum cleaners, and fans to a variety of white, brown, pink, and purple noise (who even knew that was a thing?).
I loved the white noise app so much that I started looking into other apps, and that’s when I discovered sleep stories. I downloaded the Slumber app, and that was a total game changer. The app is free, but requires a purchase or subscription for full access. I sprung for the entire content of the app, and I have not been disappointed. My favorite part of the Slumber app is the sleep stories. Sleep stories are a type of storytelling that involves repeating words in a rhythmic way so as to mimic natural brain waves and induce a feeling of calm and relaxation. The first time I tried a sleep story I was blown away by how easily I fell back to sleep when I would wake up at night. Slumber also allows you to add ambient sounds and calming music to the story as well as binaural beats that add another layer of relaxation.
Get Your Gadgets
I really wanted to capitalize on the binaural beats, so I bought bluetooth eye mask sleep headphones, and it was the the best purchase I ever made. I noticed a difference right away in how many times I would wake up in the night and how long it would take me to go back to sleep. With the eye mask, I would only wake up once or twice (as opposed to three or four times) a night and went back to sleep almost instantly.
Another purchase I made to help me sleep better was a quality memory foam pillow and a satin pillowcase. I had read that having a hypoallergenic pillow and a satin pillowcase would improve the quality of my sleep and be more comfortable and I wasn’t disappointed.
Set the Mood
My research into insomnia also led me to discover that cooler temps helped promote sleep. I try to be budget conscious with utilities, so I keep the house fairly warm in the summer and try not to use too much heat (for budget and other health reasons) in the winter, but I had noticed that I slept better in the winter when the house was cooler. I started cranking down the air when it got warm outside, and that made a big difference. I realized that if I had it cold enough in the house that I needed to bundle up in blankets, I slept much better than I did if I was feeling warm.
I can happily report that I have completely cured myself of my insomnia. I don’t rely so much on the sleep stories and eye mask anymore, although I do still have the thunderstorm sounds playing at night. I found some Alexa skills that play white noise, and the sound is richer coming out of my Echo than it was from my phone, so I sleep like a baby.
My oldest son suffers from insomnia as well, so as soon as he started mentioning it, I had him get the apps. They have helped him just as they did me. Insomnia can be a beast, and it’s nothing to mess around with. Mama needs her sleep! Don’t be afraid to try ALL THE THINGS until you find what works for you. One little disclaimer though . . . regularly sleeping to thunderstorm sounds means you will sleep through all kinds of weather. Proceed with caution, and sweet dreams.