Counting Sheep to Sleep

Yes, I did get a new bed! It was pretty easy and quick, once I had narrowed it down to a couple of mattresses.   The new one will be delivered and set up next Saturday.   It’s a combo of coils and foam, very comfy, I hope!

I used to love going to bed early with a good book.  I’d be asleep before I finished the page I was reading.   But ac I hated going to bed, dreaded it actually.   I’d fall asleep reading but the second I’d turn that light out and my head hit the pillow….wham!   That’s when, in the Caregiver days, all those thoughts about the right treatment, what to ask at the next appointment, the “what ifs” and “when” would become so vivid.  There was no way I was going to ever fall back to sleep.

Then after THAT day, I was so afraid to go to bed those first few nights….afraid of what I’d see when I closed my eyes….or start to think about.  I didn’t leave anything to chance and took gravol….I know that makes me fall asleep.   But I couldn’t take gravol forever so I got back into my game…..

Last year I told a friend about not sleeping very well and she encouraged me to try meditation.  Well, I’m just not really a meditation…or yoga…type person!   Then at work they started offering lunch time meditation sessions….. I thought I might as well go and check it out.…..certainly couldn’t hurt!    The first one was learning the basic principles of meditation….kind of like Meditation for Dummies….

Well, I didn’t go to one…..I ended up going to quite a few.  But because some of the real meditation stuff is just a little too “out there” for me I decided to research some other meditation type techniques for sleeplessness.   There just aren’t that many different ways to meditate.  Most apply the same principle of visualizing some nice babbling brook or beautiful sandy beach.   I just couldn’t do that and stay focused on whatever it was… I wasn’t too sure that I could succeed at meditation.

Meditation isn’t a bad thing of course, but I guess I’m just not deep enough or zen enough or spiritual or whatever, to do it right…..  One thing I did learn about in all my research was “counting sheep” apparently it isn’t an effective method of inducing sleep!   It is felt by most experts that counting is too stimulating and can cause the exact opposite effect that you want.

But that is what worked for me!  Instead of nice beautiful things, I could seem to manage focusing on numbers……maybe because of my line of work….don’t know!    You close your eyes and say 1 but before you say 2 you try and visualize a number 1 in your head, then once you do, you can move on to number 2 and so on.  Those thoughts would still creep back into my head, but I’d refocus on my numbers and I would fall asleep.

Each night I was a little better at my counting….it kind of became a game.   It was helping me sleep. 

One day, not long after this, the meditation guru at worked asked me how I was doing…..I was pretty sure I was a meditation failure so I was afraid to tell her about my “game”, but I did.   She thought it was a great exercise and that focusing on something, anything in fact, does clear your mind of everything else……I guess that made sense, sort of. 

She said it was good to start “simple”!!!  I didn’t ask her to clarify that statement so I’ll have to presume that it’s like being in meditation kindergarten and I will eventually be able to move up a grade or two and visualize those beautiful things instead of just numbers.

So maybe I do have a little bit of zen in me after all……and just maybe my counting game can help someone else!  I hope so, because sleep is good!



4 thoughts on “Counting Sheep to Sleep

  1. Sleep is difficult. I find going to sleep and staying asleep through the night really elusive. I wake up at six, or before, and nothing I do will get me back to sleep. Remember the days when we could fall asleep as soon as our heads ht the pillow and we could sleep til the sun was well over the yardarm?

    Gerry had some sleeping pills. I know I shouldn’t take someone else’s meds, but I have to admit that when desperate, I dip into that little vial.

    I found an iPad/iPhone APP that helps me go to sleep, though. More often than not, I fall asleep before the 20 min program is finished!

    It is Wisdom, by Glenn Harrold. There is a whole series, but the one I use is Deep Sleep. It is really effective when used with headphones.

    …and Linda, a good mattress helps. Good luck with the new one when it arrives next Saturday. Do you need new sheets? That will be another challenge if you have to replace the duvet/bedspread that the two of you used to share.

    I love your blog. Each times read it, I remind myself that we need to share a bottle of wine!


    • I really need my sleep! I’m an early bird, morning is the best time of day for me and I hate to miss it so I wish I could go to bed early and get a good night of undisturbed sleep. I don’t need a lot of sleep and seem to function OK on about 6 hours but it has to be good sleep or else….I can get a little cranky (perhaps a bit of an understatement for those that know me….)

      Luckily old bed and new bed are both queen size so I don’t need new bedding, but you’re right it might be nice to get some anyway :).

      Definitely need to share that bottle one of these days!


  2. Linda, just found your blog. I am thinking of you these days. Your post on Smart Patients always hit home for me. As I read these, I thought about how right you are about e-friends. If there are no mistakes then our connections through the site may end with connections beyond Smart Patients.
    Thanks for sharing your journey. I hope that I have connected to this blog correctly so that I can stay in touch with you.

    • Hi Sherryl, thanks for reading the blog. It has been such a great experience for me…..a way of getting all those thoughts out of my head. I hope that it helps others too to know that they’re not alone! Did you find the blog through SP? And are you the Sherryl who recently lost her husband too? You can click on the follow button at the end of the post and I think you would then get email notifications when I post. I really hope that all us e-Friends can keep in touch….one day it would be great to set up a get together or some sort where we could finally all meet. We’ve shared so much valuable information over the last few years that’s help each and everyone of us so much.

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