Falling asleep is usually not a problem for me. I can nap during the day and when I wake up during the night, I can usually fall right back to sleep.
I have had training for this. My first child, David, was not a good sleeper. He gave up napping early and stayed up late every night. He also woke me up three times a night for two solid years. And he would only go back to sleep if I nursed him. I let this go on way too long. But our pediatrician kept reassuring me that David would stop nursing when he was ready. I was convinced that he was not going to give up my breasts until he found someone else’s he liked better!
Anyway, I trained myself to go back to sleep three times a night. It wasn’t that hard because all I had to do was pick up a baby and sit with him in a comfy chair. I could close my eyes and keep myself from fully waking up. Sometimes HE had trouble falling back to sleep. Then I would have to walk with him and sing to him for a while. The one song I sang for both kids, every night, was “Leaving On A Jet Plane”, by John Denver, also recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary. I don’t know why I picked that particular song, but that became “our song”. But most nights, our routine went smoothly and post midnight serenading was not required.
I have a similar problem now. This time, I’m not wakened by a baby. It’s my dogs. One dog. She wants to eat breakfast between 5:00 AM and 6:00 AM. She jumps on me and sticks her nose in my face. If I ignore her, she whines and paws me.
So now I get up at the crack of dawn every day. I am not an early riser. Tom and I are retired so we stay up very late and sleep late. I want to go back to sleep as quickly as possible after feeding the dogs. My experiences with David have served me well.
However, to feed the dogs, I have to go downstairs, get out the dog food, measure it out and put the right dose of medicine into my older dog’s bowl. The whole process takes maybe three minutes. Then I’m back upstairs and back in bed.
The problem is that I have to be awake enough to do a precise task correctly. Because of this, sometimes my adrenaline kicks in and I wake up completely. When that happens, it’s hard to go back to sleep.
When I can’t sleep, I use a Yogic breathing exercise that relaxes the nervous system. This usually works pretty quickly. When it doesn’t, I often get a head start on the morning’s news on my phone. Eventually my eyes will start to get heavy and I’ll be ready to fall back to sleep. I don’t usually toss and turn for hours in the wee hours of the morning.
That only happens when I can’t go to sleep at night. That’s when I have to get out of bed and read or write till 3:00 AM. I watch the clock tick off hour after hour and get anxious and upset. That sucks. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. My forays into the wee hours of the morning are mostly limited to my daily doggie breakfasts.
Now, when I’m feeding the dogs, I think back to when sleep deprivation involved an adorable little human. History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.