Sleep is the one thing I need to get the right amount of to help keep my OCD at bay.
Unfortunately I find nights & going to sleep really difficult. I’m much more of an night owl than morning lark but I think my issues around sleep compound that.
I often find when I’m tired and before I get into that chilled out zone of semi sleep and dreams my negative thoughts can hit me badly. It’s one of the times I’m most vulnerable.
Therefore my mind doesn’t want to go there, it doesn’t want to let go of control for fear of what it might let in.
As compulsions to quell any of my long running obsessions I have certain things I have to do in addition to normal things like cleaning my teeth, washing off make up and putting on PJs:
1) write diary (this can be stressful in itself if I’ve had a bad day because I don’t want to relive it)
2) watch certain clips from tv shows (these add up to about 20 mins though I now let myself do other things at the same time)
3) check all the doors are locked an the keys where thy should be
4) check the gas is off
5) check the windows are locked
6) check on any of the family who are staying in the house
7) say my prayers
Points 3-6 may be done any number of times and are a major contributing factor to the late nights and lack of sleep.
I mentioned in a previous post that I offer up little prayers throughout the day when faced with troubling thoughts to ask for everything to be okay etc but in addition I have to say an ever increasing list of them before I go to sleep each night. The problem with these can be:
a) every now and then one will jump out at me for no reason and I will relive the incident that caused me to start saying it in the first place just as if it had just happened.
b) because I’m tired or saying them too quickly I’ll get muddled and end up saying the wrong thing. Then I panic the wrong thing is going to come true.
All of this adds up to me putting off going to sleep. Unfortunately that means I put off the rituals even though I know I won’t be able to go to sleep until they’re done. You would have thought by now I would have learnt to get them out of the way early on and remove the stress surrounding going to bed. But I haven’t. I do try and some days are better than others, but because the rituals have become firmly embedded in my mind as connected to bed time I put them off. I’ll happily do anything at night not to go to sleep.
It’s strange then, come morning I hate leaving my bed. I think by then I’m over the danger zone where my thoughts are concerned and am so relaxed they rarely bother me. I like that feeling and want it to last which is one of the reasons I hate getting out of bed (the other is because I’ve usually go to sleep very late and haven’t had as many hours sleep as people think I have).
Taking the stress out of bedtime is going to be one of my new priorities. I’m going to try spreading the rituals out over a few hours and start much earlier. This way they’re done before bedtime and haven’t had to be given a set hour all of their own. There’ll be less stress and hopefully the rituals will become less of a hurdle to have to cross before I’m allowed to sleep.
I’d love to hear if other people find night time as difficult and what you do to help yourself.