When the Parent Bloggers Network sent out a call for bloggers to review the book Good Night: The sleep doctor’s 4-week program to better sleep and better health, I was one of the ones to jump on it the second it popped up in my inbox. That’s a mother for you, I guess. “Better sleep? More rested? YES PLEASE!”
The book, by sleep doctor, Dr. Michael Breus (who also maintains the Beauty Sleep site and The Insomnia Blog), promises to help solve your sleeping problems. He addresses the most common problems behind sleep troubles: Anxiety/stress/nerves, caffeine, parenting, bed partners, hormones, travel. For me, caffeine has never been an issue because I’m not a big soft drink person and my coffee is limited to two cups a day before lunch. I do have a tea at night, but it never bothered me. However, parenting has certainly cut into my sleep abilities, and although anxiety and stress don’t normally keep me awake, sometimes it prevents me from falling BACK to sleep if I happen to wake up in the middle of the night.
The book is full of self-quizzes to help you pinpoint what is truly preventing you from having a good, restorative night of sleep. As I guessed from the very beginning, parenting was my biggest sleep disrupter and anxiety was a medium level problem for me. Because of that, I skimmed most of the other parts since they didn’t affect me.
The coping guidelines for parenting sat well with me. It would be easy for a book to say, “if your kids are keeping you from sleeping, let them cry for seven days straight and then they’ll leave you alone.” Dr. Breus addresses common parent-related problems such as a co-sleeping child who is restless and kicks you awake all night or a child who routinely crawls into bed with you in the middle of the night, then states that there is really no clear-cut yes or no answer and that you have to decide what will work best for you and for your family – something I’ve been saying all along, What it boiled down to for me was that I’m not willing to make changes to the way I tend to my children’s needs at this point. It isn’t so bad though, because Hayley sleeps fairly well (once she GOES to sleep) and though Breanna still wakes in the middle of the night, she usually goes back to sleep easily. She just went through a period of waking for about two hours in the middle of the night but it’s been improving so whatever was bugging her (developmental spurt maybe?) is settling itself.
The anxiety and stress section offered a lot of useful tips for various reasons behind the stress. Some of the things that were helpful to me included a worry journal (interestingly, just knowing that it was there seems to have helped), counting exercises to relax your mind and focus on something else, and reading something that won’t tax your brain.
A few things that were suggested for stress didn’t work for me – for example, hiding the clock from my view didn’t alleviate the stress, it frustrated me because when Breanna was awake I wanted to know what time it was so it was a nuisance having to peer over the top of the clock to read the time. I can see how it would be helpful to do this if you have insomnia and found yourself watching the time tick by. That’s what is so great though with this book – Dr. Breus doesn’t give you one solution and present it as the one sole answer to your problem. If something doesn’t work, great, try this instead.
One thing I did take to heart was the chapter on the Extreme Bedroom Makeover. Good lord, did I need that push. Our bedroom was the one room that had become the perfect place to stash things – stuff lying around when someone was coming over, toys taken away from the kids, dirty laundry, clean but unfolded laundry, all of it would get tossed willy-nilly in the bedroom and then the door could be closed. Yay! Except it wasn’t very peaceful at bedtime.
I cleaned and decluttered all the visible parts of the bedroom. The closet and drawers still need work but right now you can see the bedroom and it’s not piled up to the ceiling with crap. We can’t paint without permission from the landlord so we’re stuck with white, but I still love my comforter and the nice Monet print on the wall. We do have a television in there but I don’t go to sleep while watching it and I actually use it on a dead channel for white noise and cover the screen with a thick towel to keep the room dark. Overall, the bedroom feels more like a bedroom now, and less like a storage room with a bed.
The book includes a 28-day sleep plan and I confess I haven’t kept with it very well but my sleep problems weren’t that serious. However, the changes that I have made have definitely had a positive impact on my sleep thus far and I will continue to use it as a reference as needed. If you have any sort of trouble sleeping, whether it’s a temporary issue or long-term insomnia, you should check the book out because you might be very surprised by how you can turn things around for yourself.