The last few days, I have not slept well. I have been tossing and turning. Waking up often and having bad dreams. I think Oprah said, “When you know better, you do better.” Well, Oprah, I disagree. My toolbox is full of techniques and protocols to optimize sleep. You can have ample knowledge, but if not used, it is useless. You cannot drive a nail without picking up the hammer.
What routines have impacted my sleep? Why is the Sleep Number App underwhelmed by my sleep readiness? I started watching a limited-run series, The Shrink Next Door. I was intrigued by the trailer for this show and decided to add it to my list of programs. It is about a therapist who has unorthodox and insidious relationships with his clients. The show is dark and twisted. The program is not violent, but it is creepy. After getting Emily to bed each night, I would watch an episode or two. The result was I stayed up past 9 pm each night. I did not follow my evening routines. My protocols were ignored.
The Shrink Next Door is the type of show I generally avoid. Through years of experience, I have learned that I react negatively to these shows. They generate negative emotions. I begin thinking about humanity and injustice. The feelings linger for days after the show ends. My thoughts race.
I finished the series last night and was feeling sad. I was distraught with emotion for a show that has zero impact on my life. I just couldn’t shake my negative mood. The mood lingered as I drifted off to sleep. The result was a series of bad dreams. I awoke at 3:30 am upset and shaking. I was unable to go back to sleep at this point.
The last dream scared me. Todd and I were volunteering at a shelter. It was set up by his work. Several of his coworkers were there. Emily was with us. While we were busy serving meals, Emily disappeared. Panic set in. One of Todd’s coworkers told me one of the volunteers has a shady past. My mind went to a dark and scary place. Because Emily is non-verbal and unable to effectively express herself, I was scared we would never find her. She does not have a cell phone or a way to reach out. I had her identification. Even if someone found her, how would they reach us? How would they know who she is?
I often mention my ability to pivot and adapt. Apparently, I maintain this skill in my dreams. My mind went to work to solve this dream in a positive way. I hopped on the city bus to try to find Emily. I surveyed the passengers. There she was perfectly content with my sister, Carol. My sister tells me she is taking Emily to Knott’s Berry Farm. Carol did not feel the need to let me know. (There is probably more to unpack there.) Just like that, Emily was found. She was safe, and that is all that mattered. I did wake up mad at my sister for something she did in my dream. Have you ever done that? Well, I do. Todd hates when I do that!
As I lay in bed for the next hour, I was thinking about what action I could take to alleviate the fear that I was having for Emily’s safety. I knew the show I watched triggered fear. There is so much I cannot control. I cannot be with Emily every moment. I have to trust others, and I have to live life from a place of safety, not fear. We are safe. Most people are good, and others will protect her when I am unable to. While this is difficult at times, living in fear is not healthy.
I was spiraling in my thoughts, unable to slow them down. About that time, I realized a Pause Breathe Reflect meditation was starting. I am an early riser, yet, I rarely catch the 4:35 am room. I grabbed my earbuds and joined the room. I enjoyed the meditation that was about JOY. Michael invited us to recall a memory that evokes joy. As I visualized a joyful memory, I moved past the fear. I changed my state of mind. As the room ended, I was able to fall back to sleep for an hour. When the dogs got me up to feed them, I was back in action mode.
I bought Emily a bracelet from Road ID a few years back. I quit putting it on her because she did not like it. Today I was determined to locate that bracelet. Road ID is a company that makes identification bracelets for athletes. I discovered it from another parent raising a unique needs child. The identification bracelets are easy to use. There are many band color options, so Emily can match her bracelet to her outfits. I want Emily to be clean, well-cared for, and matching. Hey, it is often the little things on this journey that matter. I believe Road ID is a company that understands that, even if Emily is not their target demographic.
After the rest of the family was awake, I went on a bracelet hunt. I located the bracelet and all the bands. Once Emily was dressed, I added a matching Road ID bracelet. The moment I closed the clasp, I could feel relief. I felt the weight of fear lift. I stepped away from fear and stepped into action. This little action, along with a short meditation, was all that was required to change my mental state. It is amazing the power of our thoughts and the gift that action is to our brain.
Tonight, I am back to my regular bedtime routine. I will turn off my electronic devices by 9 pm. I will set my phone on “Do Not Disturb”. I will follow the evening routine that helps me optimize my sleep. In the words of Donavon Frankenreiter, “I’ll be sleeping good tonight.”