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What My Anxious 'Bedtime Routine' Looks Like

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I love sleep. I look forward to sleeping at night, but I despise the process I have to put myself through to get to sleep. Sleeping is good, but falling asleep is a lot of work for me. My brain is abuzz constantly as I lay in bed and listen to my husband snore, sleeping soundly. It is not like I am thinking of anything specific all the time, but I just have thousands of thoughts racing through my mind at any point in time. It takes the average person around 7 minutes to go to sleep. It takes me at least an hour.

I have to take medications to help me sleep, so I take those an hour to two hours ahead of time — so I am sure they have really kicked in. While I have taken my medicine, I must take other precautions to make sure I am truly tired. What do I do? Well, I do dishes, clean the kitchen, do laundry, take a bath, pick up around the house and do any other chore you might think of. The point is to make myself so exhausted that my mind will let me go to sleep with ease. This almost never works.

The funny thing is I am drained by the time I go to bed and you would think that would help, but it rarely does. Some nights I am lucky enough to fall asleep within 10 to 15 minutes, but that does not happen often. Nope, I am not that lucky. I also get so frustrated and jealous that my husband is snoozing peacefully next to me. “Why can’t I do that?” I ask myself.

So, here is what the hour before I go to sleep looks like. I am lying in bed singing a soundtrack from start to finish in my head. Soundtracks like “Rent,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Waitress,” “Hamilton,” etc. I go through the songs in the order they are in the shows. I do this for a while and then find it almost impossible to stop. I then start thinking of things that stress me out which causes my heart rate to rise and my anxiety to spike. I then do one of two things — get really angry or manage to calm myself down. Eventually, I fall asleep.

Sometimes the difficulty of falling asleep makes me wonder if my medication is working. It makes me wonder why my mind races so fast and why I think of the most random things when trying to fall asleep. Then, the vicious cycle starts again as I light a fire under a new train of thought. I am so exhausted by the time I fall asleep, I can easily sleep for 10 hours straight. The funny thing is, I do not always feel well-rested after that much sleep. I often still feel exhausted. It feels like even when I’m sleeping, my anxiety is still causing my brain to go haywire. I wish I was lucky enough to fall asleep in 7 minutes but alas, my anxiety has a different idea.

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Getty Images photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: February 13, 2018
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