In my post Overload Alert- What it feels like to have a Sensory Processing Disorder overload, I explained how exhausting life with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can be.
After an overload, or a very long day, those with SPD can be so tired that they can barely keep their eyes open, but they also suffer from something else.
I’m so tired, but I can’t fall asleep!
There have been too many nights where I have laid in bed, completely exhausted, but my brain is so active, so awake, that it won’t let me fall asleep.
Sleep is a brain function. Putting all the medical and chemical details aside, part of sleeping is calming your brain down enough to fall asleep. When our brains are constantly irritated by our senses, it makes sense that our brain would struggle to calm down.
It is also connected to our bodies need for sensory stimulation while awake. Believe it or not, everybody needs sensory stimulation to be active in the world. It’s harder to be productive when it is dark and gloomy outside. Or how we’re able to relax more if we are under a soft blanket, than out in the bitter cold. Or even how peppy music can help us feel happier in our work.
Imagine if your perception of the sun, the cold, the noise were made stronger? It would be overwhelming, but it would also be stimulating. It’s the same feeling one would feel if they had drunk a lot of coffee right before going to bed.
Night time: The time when all our senses feel free.
Many SPDers are night owls simply because at night our brains are active, due to all the sensory stimulation during the day, and also because night time is when most sensory offenders disappear.
Think about it: the sun goes down= less light to cause our eyes and head to feel pained. Less cars and trucks on the road outside= less noise and sounds to irritate our brains.
But, I’m still tired…
The irony of most SPDers lack of sleep is that our body is physically exhausted. So even though our brain is running a marathon, our bodies are crying out for rest, which makes doing things at night difficult.
I know what you are thinking, “It seems like these contradict each other.” Whether they do or don’t, doesn’t matter. All that matters is that what I am saying is completely true, and I know it’s true because I have experienced it and I have learned a valuable lesson:
Don’t be frustrated at your overwhelmed brain!
The more you fight with your brain, the more you will struggle with sleep.
Instead, sit up in bed.
Read or listen to a book.
Turn on some relaxing music (I like liturgical chants or lullaby CD’s like the one by Twila Paris).
Put on some Lavender essential oil (one or two drops on the soles of your feet, I know it sounds weird, but it works and it’s completely natural!).
Do some relaxing yoga stretches or fidget with a sensory tool you can use while laying in bed (I usually play with a Koosh ball)
Drink a cup of water or some Chamomile tea.
Even taking a sleep aid might be helpful.
Everyone is different, so each person may find one way better than another. What ever method you use, don’t be afraid to use it.
Sleep is important and it’s not only frustrating when you can’t sleep, but it’s hard on your health too.
I wish sleep came more easily, but sometimes our body needs help. Luckily, with the right tools, you can help your body get the sleep it needs!
What methods do you find useful for falling asleep? Do you use a sensory tool to help, and if so what is it? Any funny stories about not sleeping? Share all your stories and answers below. Also don’t forget to subscribe at the top so you’ll never miss a post.
I hope you have a great night’s sleep tonight and many nights in the future!