For Christmas, I received a vacuum cleaner from my husband. But not just any vacuum cleaner. It’s a robot that vacuums the floor all by itself. Maybe you’ve seen this Roomba “iRobot” in the store. Before buying it, James asked some of our women friends if it would be taboo to buy your wife an appliance like a vacuum cleaner as a Christmas gift. They assured him that the Roomba would be a dreamy gift and I agree.
Except for one thing.
My husband programmed the Roomba to go off at 6:30 a.m. and let me tell you, that thing is noisy. Beep, beep, beep, BEEP!!! For you morning people, 6:30 a.m. is nothing, but I am not a morning person. I am a “sleep as long as possible, 7:00 a.m. is plenty early” kind of person.
So since Christmas, my morning slumber has been interrupted by a robot. Now I realize the robot is doing chores for me, so forgive me if I sound ungrateful. It’s just that I love sleep so much.
Just ask my husband. He asked what I was writing about.
“The value of sleep and rest,” I replied.
“Oh, you’re good at that,” was his sarcastic response.
Yet in the age of sleeping pills and insomnia, I take that as a compliment! According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, more than half of Americans are sometimes unable to fall or stay asleep, and about one-third of us experience sleeping problems every night or almost every night. Carol Ash, medical director of Sleep for Life, a sleep disorder treatment program in Hillsborough, New Jersey, says, “So many people are sleep deprived. We’re living in an unprecedented time of sleep debt.”
Why has sleep become so elusive to the average American?
For starters, there are those pesky physical problems. When I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I had to get up four or five times a night to go to the bathroom. Once I waddled back into bed, the baby’s kicking would start. Not to mention the indigestion; this was by far the worst offender. I heard that if your baby has a lot of hair, you’ll have some serious indigestion. Let’s just say my baby came out with dark, thick hair like Elvis and I believe that old wives tale to be true!
Now there were other times in my life when I couldn’t sleep because my brain wouldn’t turn off. For instance, lists danced in my mind before going on a road trip to Zion National Park in Utah. Things to pack for the baby, for the kids, for snacks, for entertainment in the car. I pictured what outfits I should bring since the weather could be in the high 50’s or the low 20’s depending on the time of day. My in-laws were coming and I fretted about what kinds of foods they would enjoy. I aimed to be a supermarket on wheels because my husband isn’t one to stop at a drive thru. Plus our family motto is: “Be prepared.” We needed enough food and drinks to survive a blizzard!
All these details crowded my brain and I couldn’t sleep. And if I don’t sleep, I’m not happy. And if Momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy, right? So let me share my personal #1 cure for insomnia. It involves no medication and it probably won’t cost you a dime.
I listen to podcasts or books on tape on my iPod. Instant tranquilizer. I put my earphones in and listen to something positive and soothing. Many nights it’s the Daily Audio Bible podcast. A man named Brian reads from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. He has a wonderfully rich voice and he knows how to pronounce all the hard names like Jeconiah and Shealtiel. I’m usually asleep before he gets to the New Testament reading. I also enjoy listening to Joel Osteen’s podcast because he’s so positive. My stress melts away as I listen to messages like “God’s Hand is Outstretched Toward You” and “Program Your Mind for Victory.” If I need some new sleepy time selections, I just borrow my husband’s iPod and listen to something about business or history and I’m out like a light in no time.
Before I had an iPod, if I couldn’t sleep I would launch “the secret weapon.” The secret weapon was a recording of the Bible in King James language and style on cassette. Just ten minutes of “thee’s” and “thou’s” and the peace of God would lead me into restful places!
So maybe the next time you have trouble catching your zzz’s, you can try listening to something soothing to lull you to sleep. Here are a few other sleep tips I’ve read before and found helpful:
1. Don’t Stare at the Clock
If you’ve been lying in bed for more than 20 minutes and you’re still wide awake, get out of bed. Don’t do anything ambitious like clean the kitchen sink. Just move to another room and pick up a book or magazine to read until you get sleepy. Write someone a letter (not an email). Don’t watch TV or else a few hours later, you might still be glued to the tube.
2. Make a To-do List Before You Go to Bed
If your mind is frantically racing about all the things left undone from the day, grab a pencil and paper. Write down the things you need to do. Are you worried? Write that down too. It could be something like, “I’m worried about my job interview tomorrow. Lord, please help me to do my best.”
3. Keep a Bedtime Routine
Kids aren’t the only ones who need rituals like a bath, brushing teeth, and story time to settle down. Adults need that sense of closure as well. After you wash your face and brush your teeth, maybe you can read a brief devotional or pray with your husband before turning off the lights. Spend a little time to wind down each evening.
4. Don’t Drink Caffeine or Alcohol Late in the Day
If I’m at a party and have a cup of regular coffee in the evening, I pay a price for it. Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
5. Exercise Regularly
When your body is healthy and fit, sleep will come naturally. If it’s been a while since you last worked out, try exercising again. Chances are you’ll sleep wonderfully because you’ll be exhausted in a good way.
6. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary
Decorate it in a way that pleases you. Use your bed for relaxation, not as a center for work, bill paying, or any other stressful activity.
7. Take a Sunday After Nap
The last thing I want to extol is the virtue of a Sunday afternoon nap. I think I have enjoyed a Sunday nap ever since I was a teenager which equals about 1,200 naps to date. I don’t regret one of them! Lord knows I would be a much grouchier person without that weekly nap. Researchers say that napping improves your productivity and mood. That’s why I don’t feel guilty about snoozing in the middle of the day. I know I’ll be more productive and nice the rest of the time.
I suppose as long as I get eight hours of sleep a night and that weekly nap, I can handle being woken up by a vacuuming robot even at 6:30 in the morning!