I’m Tired, But Can’t Sleep- Sleeping Problems Related To Sensory Processing Disorder

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.

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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!

ZZzzzzz….


 

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!

Living with fear… living with SPD.

I know I said I was going to post about being tired but struggling to sleep after an overload, but I felt this post was a little more important. Next week I will have that one up, I promise.

Photo from Pixabay.com

There are many things in this world to fear. Diseases, emotional or physical harm, war, etc. One could easily live their life in fear, especially with all the “communicating” we do over social networks.

Fighting fear is the hardest battle someone with Sensory Processing Disorder can fight.

We are constantly bombarded with the world around us. Overloads are a way of life and sometimes just stepping out of our house to go grocery shopping can be a struggle.

I have always battled with fear. When I was child, I was constantly asking my parents, “Will it kill me?”

My fear led me to feeling afraid of everything, to the point that I became very depressed about life.

I always wondered, “How can I live in a world where there is so much to be afraid of?”

My depression was so bad that if I hadn’t been so afraid of dying, I probably would have killed myself.

But it was in this darkness, in this fear, that someone spoke into my heart.

The worst thing to feel when you are afraid is feeling alone.

I felt alone, fighting the battle by myself, and yet, I wasn’t. I had someone always near me in my fight and His name is Jesus.

Even though that time of depression and doubt has passed, fear has remained my constant foe.

But Courage is something that doesn’t come naturally.

Courage is something we have to fight for, reach for. It’s a battle, sometimes it feels like a loosing one, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

To have courage when you’re overloaded- that’s hard

To have courage when you’re going somewhere new- that’s hard

To have courage when you’re talking with someone- that’s hard

But, I want to remind you that you are not alone in your struggles.

Being afraid is a natural feeling. It’s natural for us to fear death and it’s natural to fear uncertain places, but that doesn’t mean we should let it rule our lives.

Ultimately I had to decide who rules my life? Fear or God?

Fear doesn’t love me. It didn’t die for me. It doesn’t even help my body or my health.

God on the other hand loves me passionately. He helps me when I am weak and even in the midst of an SPD overload I feel Him near me.

To know you are never alone is the greatest comfort when you are afraid.

So know now. You are not alone and will never be alone.

I am learning to trust Jesus with my SPD and my life, will you?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”~ Proverbs 3:5

Overload Alert!- What it feels like to have a Sensory Processing Disorder overload!

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Many “normal” functioning people know little of what it is like to have an SPD overload. So I want to invite you to take a trip with me to Goodwill.

Starting at the Beginning (a very good place to start)

That morning began like usual. Bathroom prep. Changing into something pretty (or at least comfortable). Eating breakfast, etc.

I remembered that morning that I had some Goodwill coupons to use, so I decided to make a trip.

Seems normal enough, right?

The Trouble Begins

After gathering all my SPD gear, I set off, eager to seek my fortune in the racks at Goodwill.

I get there and I am shocked at how crazy the parking lot is. Every parking place seemed to be filled, with at least two other cars circling like sharks.

So I find a parking spot finally. Of course it is far from the entrance, but I shrug and say, “It’s ok. I’ll have fun! I’ll get some deals.”

Walking into the store, I quickly learn that it is a mad house! People everywhere. Lines five or six people long for the fitting rooms. The thought of walking back out of the store crossed my mind, but I shook it away with a short prayer, “Lord, help me do this.”

My adventure began in the sweater section. As I gazed at the clothes on the rack, a small sound suddenly cuts through my ear drum like a knife. The dreaded squeak of metal hangers rubbing against metal racks.

My muscle tense and my mind starts reeling.

Quickly digging through my rolling back pack, I pull out my noise canceling headphones and clap them on. I click the side switch and the noise dims, not completely getting rid of the sound, but lessening it enough that I can take a deep breath and continue my quest.

The second attack hits… movement, light and objects.

People are everywhere.  I feel as if am always in the way or being starred at. Their movements blur together as if they are just big dark blobs moving about me.

The lights above are becoming more overwhelming too. The longer I stay, the more my eyes begin to squint.

Also, everywhere I look, I not only see people, but I see colorful, bunched up objects, and full out chaos.

My head and my eyes start moving everywhere. Trying to understand what I see, but failing.

I start slouching. My head goes down and I begin to faze out as I gaze at the vinyl records in front of me (the love of my life).

Most people, when they get involved with a task they enjoy, they block off all that is around them, but not those with SPD. As much as I starred down, my mind was still conscious of the movement and the objects around me, making my head feel heavy and my hand grip the handle of my rolling back pack.

My head was so overwhelmed that my body literally felt like it was going to topple over, which made the handle of my rolling backpack feel like my life line!

The final blow!

By the time an hour had gone by, I felt more like a zombie than a woman. My dazed brain finally sent a message that said, “check the time.”

So I reached for my cell. Nothing.

My cell phone had dropped out of my bag and was somewhere in the store!

Ok, my brain is already overwhelmed by the people, the objects around me, the lights, the sounds, but now I have to concentrate on finding a small black cell phone? Here we go.

I start retracing my steps: the dressing rooms, the vinyls, the dress section, the sweater section. Nothing!

Suddenly, I start feeling my body letting off warning alerts. My chest gets tighter. My eyes start dazing. My brain switches into GET OUT NOW mode.

I shake my head and pray a quick prayer again, “Jesus, please get me out of here safe and sound.”

Forget about the cell phone, I need to get out of here!

I step into the checkout line, which is really long. My brain is shutting down and I feel like I am going to fall over even more.

At last I reach the checkout. I hand her my stuff and my coupons.

“We don’t use those coupons here,” I vaguely hear the lady say.

“What?” I reply.

“Boston store is raising money for Goodwill. Their for Boston store.”

I stare. This store is hopping and Boston store is raising money for it?

That’s the last straw, my brain has pretty much shut down completely and I become quiet and extremely dazed.

“Never mind,” I say, “just check me out!”

She does and I practically run out of the store.

Fresh air hits my face and I am free. But my cell is still lost, I spent more money than I expected, and I felt like I had been through a hurricane.


 

P.S.

I did in the end get my cell phone back, but it took another trip to Goodwill with another person to do so.

Stay tuned next week for What Happens After The Battle, which will talk about how SPDers can feel so tired after an overload but can’t calm their senses enough to sleep.

Also, I would love to hear your stories! Tell me a time when your SPD was in overload. What did you do to get through it? And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post. Thanks for reading.

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Changing- Is it Normal for Them to Come and Go?

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Does it ever feel like your sensory processing disorder ebbs and flows? One day you react to the scrapping of a fork against a plate more than the day before? Or a certain smell is more noticeable today than yesterday?

You are not alone.

Many of us who have SPD experience this and sadly there is no single name or cause for it, but that doesn’t mean there is no explanation.

1. Stress…

Stress is a big factor in many problems, and has a big impact on our SPD. If you are under stress, your SPD symptoms can become aggravated by this, thus appear to be getting worse.

SPD is stressful all by itself, but when you add other stress, such as work stress, family stress, or even other health stress, our body gets overloaded. And when our body is overloaded, what does it usually do? Get defensive. SPD is directly connected to our defensive side of our mind, so it makes sense that we become more reactive to our senses when we are under stress.

2. Tired

When our body is dragging or is low on energy, it makes sense that certain coping mechanisms get dropped by the body.

If you really think about it, your body is constantly working, even when at rest. Many internal organs are running all the time, including your senses, which never turn off completely. They are always there, trying to help you understand the world you are in.

The key word is trying. When you are tired, the body starts conserving energy, which means that things like coping with sensory stimulation gets put on the back burner. That’s why when you are tired, you often feel more reactive to your senses.

3. Body stuff.

I know “body stuff” isn’t exactly specific, but I described it like this because each person has different body stuff. That can be digestive issues, hormone changes, having a headache, backache, a crick in your neck, anything that is internal.

These sensations aren’t the most comfortable and they have an impact on our mind.

Think about it this way: if each Body stuff was like a poke in the side, that would be pretty distracting, wouldn’t it? Our brains are constantly noticing everything, including that annoying backache. Because of this, each “poke” takes away energy and, guess what, makes your SPD symptoms worse.

So what do we do about it?

The first step is: Don’t freak out!

One bad day or a few bad days doesn’t mean that your SPD will be like this forever.

Second step: Don’t be hard on yourself.

I know it can be frustrating when your body doesn’t do what you want it to do or when it reacts to silly little things, but understand that your body is having a bad day. If your best friend was having a bad day, you would be sympathetic, wouldn’t you? Try extending the same courtesy to your body.

Third step: Embrace the truth that your sensory tools are your best friend.

When your body is behaving like this, use your sensory tools and toys. Getting that healthy sensory stimulation could be exactly what your body needs to feel centered again. Also, sensory tools give your body an outlet for sensory overload, which is vital to helping your body function.

I will end by saying that I am not an expert on this, mostly because it is impossible to have one cure. Each person is unique, which makes the tools and tips that help each person very unique.

But I can say this: I have used each and every tip and they have helped me a lot, and my hope is that they will help you too.

SPD symptoms may ebb and flow, but that’s alright, because we can learn to adapt… and even if we can’t adapt, at least we can cut our body some slack through understanding why it does what it does.

Remember, when things get really bad, you can always have a fresh start tomorrow.


 

I am curious:

What are some ways you have helped your SPD when you felt like your symptoms were changing. Can you relate to some of the reasons I gave above for our SPD symptoms to come and go?

Also, don’t forget to subscribe at the top so you’ll never miss a post. Thanks for reading!

8 Ways To Make Phone Calls Less Stressful For Those With Sensory Processing Disorder

Photo from Pixabay.com

Photo from Pixabay.com

Communication for those with sensory processing disorder is hard. Because the world is so overwhelming, it can be hard for our brains to focus on conversations. Sometimes the words aren’t enough and we depend on the second part of conversations: body language.

What about phone calls?

No body language. No facial expression. Limited ability to hear. Phone calls are not only difficult for those with SPD, but frightening!

What if’s fill our head; What if I say the wrong thing. What if I don’t understand what they are saying.

Because there is this thing called a phone standing between me and the other person, my emotions and senses start over reacting.

But in this day in age we can’t stop using the phone.

Sooner or later we have to pick up that phone and dial. This reality is especially true when you are in business. Phone calls are unavoidable.

Then what do we do?

I can’t remove my SPD, but like sensory tools, I can learn how to make phone calls less stressful

So I found 8 things that help me when I have to make a phone call. I’m sure there are many more, but these hopefully will get you started.

1. Remember They Are Just People.

Sometimes when I get on the phone my mind starts running away with me. I forget that the person on the other end is a person, not a huge giant who will eat me if I say the wrong thing.

They are human and they understand what it is like to be human… and all the mistakes that goes with being human.

Now, sometimes you will come across a grouchy person and when that happens, again, remember they are human and just like you they have bad days. Also remember that you are on the phone and if they are really mean, you have a phone, a cord, and many, many miles separating you from them. (You also have the ability to hang up if things get really heated… but that should be a last resort).

2. Write Down All The Facts Before You Call.

When you are making an important phone call, it’s important to understand exactly what needs to be said. Maybe not word for word, but be sure to make out some bullet points on a piece of scrap paper. Also do it before you even start dialing! Once you press the send button, there will be no time to lay down bullet points.

3. Do Something To Get The Nervousness OUT!

Pace while you talk on the phone. Squeeze a Koosh Ball. Sit in a rocking chair or on a CoreDisk. Use what ever sensory tool or toy that makes you feel grounded and calm.

4. Breath.

Make sure you are taking good, deep breaths. This may take some conscious effort, but your body will thank you later!

5. Have Something Soothing Nearby.

While your talking, stand near a window to feel less confined. Turn on some instrumental music. Maybe a soundtrack that is inspiring or soothing.

6. Keep Reminding Yourself To Take Your Time.

Make ever word count. You have plenty of time to say all that you need to say, so don’t rush through the words. Speak slower on purpose to counter act the nervous tendency to speed talk (ie. talk like you’ve had too much caffeine). The person on the other end wants to hear you and will wait for you to get every word out.

7. Don’t Put It OFF!

The more you delay making a phone call, the harder it is going to be. After making out a good outline of what you are going to talk about, make the phone call then and there! Because it will be harder if you procrastinate, believe me!

8. Use A Phone That Is Comfortable.

If your Smart Phone or Cell phone is too small, hard to hear on, or hurts your ear, find a phone that works well for your body. Try using a headset or buy an old fashioned hand-held phone that plugs into your cell. Again, what ever works best for your body and your SPD.

That’s it!

I have SPD and I know how hard it is to make phone calls. These tips have helped me with phone calls (and I make a lot of phone calls). I hope they will help you too.

Yes, we can’t avoid phoning people, but we can hopefully to things to make the experience more enjoyable.