Sleep Issues (Part II)

Thank you to everyone for your comments on my Night Time Mommy Woes post. It is good knowing I'm not the only mom who's experienced this. It seems that Ariana is sleeping better these days. Maybe it was a teeth thing, maybe it was a nervous thing, maybe she just didn't feel like sleeping last week! I'll probably never know and more than likely it will happen again. She is back to taking good naps during the day, too, instead of sitting and talking the whole nap time. Woo hoo! Once again, thank you all for your support. Being a first time momma it's always good to have insight from other mommas out there.

Now that her sleep issues are mostly cleared up, mine are kicking in again. What am I talking about, I don't think they ever stopped. I'm a natural night owl. Have been since I can remember, really. If I had my way I'd be able to stay up all night and sleep in til like noon every day. But of course, I don't have my way ;) Lately, though, my sleep issues have been worse than normal. Last night was pretty rough. It seems at night my anxiety kicks in really bad. I lay there and just think, think, think. I'm incredibly scared of losing people I love, especially since Jonny died. I've always been fearful of it but, reasonably so, it's kicked up ten fold since he died. At night I just lay there and see horrifying images in my head or imagine what I'd do if something happened or how I'd get somewhere in time. It's terrifying. My heart races, my chest tightens, and my brain buzzes. I feel there are thousands of cinder blocks sitting on top of me and all around me. Then I think about other worries too, more normal ones - money, appointments, the like. The cinder blocks pile on. Then of course my mind always goes to Jonathan and the bricks are so heavy I can barely breathe. It's not always in that order of course, but it's similar thoughts and so much weight on me. During the day, I'm fine. I know things are fine I don't worry as much (ok, I'm not fine I'm still anxious but not nearly the way I am at night) but at night it's quiet and I'm not doing anything so every irrational thought on the planet has time to plant a seed in my already over-active imagination.

It's been worse lately. I think part of it is the bed I'm sleeping in. I'm in the room I was in when I found out Jonny was going in to Marjah (that's an awful story in and of itself) and some nights, even when I'm not thinking about the other things, I think of that night I found out and I feel it all over again. I was so upset that night I ended up puking. In hind sight, it's almost as if I knew, as if my subconscious knew that him going into Marjah would mean...
I remember feeling so bad freaking out that night because most my friends husband's were already there, some were in the actual push and some had already seen their brothers die before their eyes. And here I was, my husband had been "safely" tucked behind the wire was just heading in and I was losing it. So I lay in that same bed these nights and I replay that night in my mind. My stomach starts to turn over and I feel the screams wanting to be unleashed building up in my mind -- DON'T GO.

Replaying that awful night does nothing, obviously, to help with the anxiety that already builds itself up at night time. I'm thinking maybe if I get it out, write it down, maybe I can let it go? Just a little bit? So that maybe I can get some sleep. There's nothing wrong with the room or the bed, the bed is super comfy. During the day I could lay there all day if I had the chance. And the memories don't hit every single night just some of them. Ugh I don't know I just wish the constant anxiety would go away. I wish I didn't have to stay up until my eyes were closing themselves to sleep. Even at home in my own bed I do that - I keep myself awake until I can't any longer - less time to think before sleep takes over.

I try counting backwards, I try singing in my head, I try thinking of happy things, I try focusing on my breathing, I try checking out facebook just to get my mind on something else... nothing seems to work. Anyone out there have any good strategies for calming your mind, releasing the pressure of an impending panic attack and falling asleep? I'm all ears!


  1. I wish I had an answer for you, unfortunately my anxiety got so bad the the doctors had to put me on medication just so I can get some sleep. If you figure anything out, please please let me know!

  2. I know - what is it about nighttime that turns our brains (and worries) on overtime? I'll be interested to read the comments to see if anyone has any good sleep methods!

  3. Dear Mrs. P,
    I've been reading your blog for a while now. I'm a military wife too. Like a lot of your readers, I like to "check in" and make sure you're ok and see what you and sweet baby girl are up to. The military becomes your family, as you know! Gosh, I wish I had good advice for you. It seems like you're doing all the right things. Anxiety has plagued me most of my life and I've experienced nothing like you have. Two tips for sleep; picture a color and nothing else. When your mind wanders, bring it back just to that color. The effort might bring on sleep. A breathing technique to get thru anxiety is to inhale through your nose for a count of 5, hold for 5 and exhale thru your mouth for 5. Hope it helps. Thanks for your blog. You are stronger than you know!

  4. I have no answers, and I can only hope that I help you out a little. I'm always here for you, as you know I'm a night owl too, so the time doesn't matter. I had these same issues and my only fix was a doctor with great meds. I love you to bits and pieces, and I hope you feel my big bear HUG all the way from Chicago!! :)

  5. I get them too. And it's horrible. I feel awful that you have it. To help, I watch tv.

    Nick at Nite. to be exact. The Nanny was my constant comfort for a long time. Now, I'm so excited to watch Friends, it's crazy. I feel like a teenager again. :)

    Anyway. The TV helps me not think about my life and my worries.

    And being in a new place. I wonder how things will work out. Where will we put a couch. Where will we get a couch. Can we afford a couch. What if I didn't make the table square, and had it smaller, would that look better. What am i going to do in this tiny kitchen.. If I bought a shelf to house my appliances, that would be better. Why do I have a panini press. I've used it twice. Are baked potatoes healthy. Man they are good. mmmmmm baked potatoes. If I get super skinny, i'm going on vacation. I can't afford a nice vacation. money sucks. David has a good job, not a big deal. can we afford vegas in 2 years. Should we renew our vows. have we been married long enough to renew vows. what would i say. i wish we had wedding pictures. i need to print pictures. blah blah blah............

    That's my mind. I am thankful that nick at nite usually stops me from getting too far into my crazy brain.

    If you wanted to try a supplement (it's sold with all the vitamins and stuff) you could try melatonin. I have given that to the kids, but Ariel is doing better now, and Monica... what a mouth! haahha!

    I like that you're blogging more now.

    Mmmmm... Gerard Butler is on the view... he's hot..... I'll leave you with that tasty thought! ahahhahaha!!!!

  6. I am so glad she is back to sleeping, it's harder when your kids are having it rough.

    The entire time my husband was deployed I coudln't sleep more than 4 hours. I would freak out, stress out, and let my mind wander... it was horrible. I volunteer with families of the fallen and my husband was in the same country most of theirs didn't make it home from and I know that didn't help my night time.
    I decided to write before bed. I pushed myself to empty my brain out before bed every night. Looking back, most of what I wrote makes NO sense but it gave me about 2 hours more of sleep a night.

    I hope it helps...

  7. I use this vitamin called Melatonin. It's all natural, no narcotics and it doesn't "sedate" you and when you wake up in the morning, you're not groggy. I have horrible anxiety also, and it seems to be the only thing that works. You get it in the vitamins & minerals section at Wal Mart. :)

  8. I'm a Marine wife and avid reader of your blog! (For some reason your blog wouldn't let me post under my blog name). My name is Holly and I live at

    I have OCD and panic disorder. A therapist once told me a great way to ward off nervous feelings when I feel them coming on. It works. Then the other night I couldn't sleep well so I tried this strategy for that too and it worked. What you have to do is think of a place you have been before, a comforting place (don't know if a place that involves Jonny would be too bittersweet or not). But think of a room in that place. Then begin describing it in very specific detail, as specific as you can get, like if you were describing it to someone who had never seen it before. I guess originally I was supposed to be describing this out loud to another person but it works if I describe it to myself in my head. Anyway, it may not sound like it works, but for one, you are thinking of this comforting place (I used my mom's kitchen, oddly enough, or my grandparents' house). Also, your brain is totally focusing on something other than worry. And then putting all that effort into thinking of those details can make you sleepy!

    Well, I hope this helps. If not, just know I have you in my prayers, as do so many others I'm sure!

  9. Hi Rachel... its brandi pearce...just under diff name on facebook now.... Rose Leigh.... Me and elizabeth go for a run every night when its a bit cooler and we do bath time and bed time... By a 3 to 4 mile run im ready for sleep. Also watching the disney channel... Watch it when wanting to go to bed and it sounds silly but it will get so boring you just fall asleep... keeps the mind off things.. My hubby is back over there again and they are about to do what they did in marjah but somewhere diff and lately I cant sleep at all... Ive gone back to running and it really helps.. I just ware myself out before bed and then i fall asleep immediately instead of thinking... and freaking out....

  10. I just wanted to also chime in and say that although I really have no cure the sleep dilemma, I find the honesty and admiration in your blog amazing. You are one tough cookie ;)

  11. I would try reading a book. I know when I read or do homework I am more tired than I can imagine no matter what thoughts are running through my head. Also, try "sleepy time tea" and a warm bath before actually sitting down to read. It will calm you down and much like lil princess has a bed time routine, you too will have one. Good luck!

  12. One word: YOGA. I went through an awful breakup last year (I realize breakups aren't nearly the same as losing someone you love but I had the same sleep problems you are describing) and the only thing that got me through it/made me whole again was when I found yoga. It's SO much more than a form of exercise, it's a way to "turn your mind off" if that makes sense. I hated feeling like my head was working against me and there were little nagging voices whispering in my ears that I couldn't shut up (ok now I sound crazy!) But in all seriousness, after being in a good yoga class for an hour you FEEL different. You let go. I eventually felt peace and realized that life would go on and I'd eventually be OK and was FINALLY able to sleep again after months of lying awake thinking/stressing. A lot of places offer free trial classes or even a free week. I have to warn you though...if you try it and find a good studio you will become addicted and will not be able to function w/o it! ;) Good luck <3

  13. pray. listen to a sermon online. listen to the midnight truckers on talk radio. start at your toes, and flex and relax your muscles all the way up to your forehead. know that this, too, shall pass. sometimes it is hormonal. sometimes it is 'cause we ate something or drank something. then pray some more. Love your blog.

  14. Melatonin is a good option that people have recommended. But I don't know that, that would combat the anxiety. I have taken Xanax and it does help. It makes me feel totally relaxed like I just had a full-body massage.... if you're open to something like that I can tell you my experience was good.

  15. ooo, or Reading? Maybe immersing yourself in a book will help you to take your mind off of the less savory options.

  16. Sorry that your racing mind is getting the best of you. Honestly, never being in that situation I don't know how I would react - it sounds like you are an extremely strong woman, though, so I am sure you will figure out a way to turn off your thoughts and get some sleep. I'm sure "that's easy to say" but you will figure it out.


  17. :/

    Sending you [[[[good sleeping vibes]]]]]

  18. Mrs. P <3

    I have struggled with sleeping issues for as long as I can remember too. I was the only highschool student I know who bribed their little brother to sleep on my floor so I knew someone would be there... that was 8+ years ago, and I still struggle with it. If my soldier is gone, I make sure my puppy is at foot all night. The only thing I've found solitude in (and I've tried prescriptions, vitamins, exercising before bed, lights on-lights off, reading, tv...etc, etc...) the ONLY thing that works for me is the peace I find from reciting this every night:

    Psalms 91

    1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD,He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers,and under his wings shalt thou trust:
    his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
    6 nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; 10 there shall no evil befall thee,
    neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
    11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee,to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands,lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

    I will pray that you find rest and peace tonight, that sleep comes swiftly and easily and you are rested in the morning.

  19. Starting at your head, going down your body, arms, buttocks, thighs feet, and toes, slowly and progressively tense your muscles, hold, do it again several times.

    Think "white." See white. When your mind sees or thinks anything but white, just keep saying it in your mind over and over.

    Get Natrol Melatonin with Vitamin B6 at CVS. If it is not on the shelf, they will order it for you. They do for me. This is not addictive. I take 3mg. Maybe 1mg would work for you.

    Sleep in total darkness, in a cool room, and without constricting clothes. Take off all jewelry. I like the room very cold, but that may be too much for you. Plus, if you have the house heated for a baby, cool won't work.

    Don't watch tv or get on the computer for the last hour or two before bedtime.

    Breathe in through nose and out through the mouth.

    Don't drink alcohol because it will wake you after awhile. Don't drink anything with caffeine or chocolate after 2 pm.

    Melatonin is not a vitamin. And, I won't use the Walmart brand. It does not work as well as the Natrol brand.

    Use white noise to help you sleep. But, with a baby, you might not want this to interfere with hearing the baby.

    Get early morning light. Stand at the window facing the bright outdoors or go into the yard. This will stimulate your body to make plenty of melatonin at night, when your body needs it to sleep.

    Don't exercise before bedtime.

    I was going to say never sleep in, but with a baby, I suppose you don't have that chance!

    I had to do this--Resolve NOT to think about anything tht hurts you. Tell yourself before you get into the bed that you are NOT going to let anything enter your mind.

    Google melatonin.

    So sorry about your husband.

  20. I also struggle with insomnia and anxiety. I know one thing that helps me is when I exercise that day so my body is more tired. I pray that you can have peace of mind and sleep well these next few days!

  21. I have no advice that you haven't already heard. Just sending you positive thoughts.


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