When I’m worried and I can’t sleep. 
I count my blessings instead of sheep.
—Bing Crosby

Hello, Love

For some of us, sleep occurs as soon as our head hits the pillow. For others, nightfall is a time of of inveterate restlessness.

How I wish I was one of you lucky dogs who fall asleep quickly!

This past week I’ve had such great a difficult sleeping. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I’m in a new place, sleeping a new bed in a foreign country filled with strange new sounds. Trying to catch some zzzzz’s in the middle of a bustling Spanish weekend is like trying to capture the wind.

Malaga sizzles with intensity. I have windows open to catch the breeze, but along with the cooler gusts, come the sounds of dogs and people and vehicles.

Whiz! Whiz!
Bark! Bark!
Chirp! Chirp!
Pop! Pop!

Grita! Grita!
Buzz! Buzz!

The warm nights in Spain are filled with such an aliveness that one can not help but grab a sangria and dash to the rooftop to join the rest of society.

Absolutely lovely!

Yet night after night of tossing and turning and little rest, I’ve become irritable. I’ve made another wrong turn to the mythical Land of Nod, and daylight comes too early East of Eden.

I’m curious…

What do you do when you can’t sleep—especially if it occurs night after night?

Do you count sheep? Toss and turn? Pop a pill? Obsess over every sound? Ruminate about something that happened (or will happen) at work? Turn on the TV? Check your email on your smart phone? Try ten different pillows? Get frustrated and throw all ten pillows on the floor?

I’ve tried every one of these options!

If you’re like me and have trouble falling or staying asleep, I want to suggest you try self soothing.

​What is Self Soothing?

Self soothing likely conjures up the images of trying to get the baby to fall sleep or of Linus dragging his blanket off to school while sucking his thumb. Rightfully so, most of us rarely think self-soothing is for anyone over the age of a toddler.


Self soothing is a grounding technique used to calm an overactive amygdala. It can be any activity that brings you a sense of inner peace. The key to proper self soothing is to remember one size does not fit all. One person finds the noise of a fan soothing, but another, annoying. One person loves their hair stroked as they fall asleep; it drives the next person crazy.

Test out different methods to see what works for you.

Self Soothing Suggestions To Try So You Can Get Better Sleep:

  • Sip chamomile or valerian root tea just before bed
  • Try earplugs
  • Listen to calming music or a guided meditation
  • Take a warm bath
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Use a white noise machine or a fan
  • Pray (Dear God! Please help! works for me.)
  • Hug a stuffed animal
  • Sing a relaxing song in your head
  • Put your hand on your heart and say kind things to yourself

Self-Compassion Challenge:

Tonight before you fall asleep. Try one or more of these self soothing suggestions above.

Alright, sweet one. Let me know what helps you fall asleep when you’re having a restless night. Post your suggestions below.

Sweet dreams,


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Feature Image:Sleep Tight” by freestocks.org on Flickr

Today’s post was written in the lovely roadside cafe El Mori, in Alhaurín El Grande, Andalucia, Spain.

2 comments on “Reduce Sleepless Nights With Self Soothing | Day 21 of the Self-Compassion Challenge”

  1. As you may recall, Misty, a few months ago I experienced a prolonged period of getting only three or four hours of sleep a night. No matter what I did, and that included following out some of your “self-soothing suggestions,” I could not go to sleep. During the day I felt like and looked like the walking dead.

    As you know I am under psychiatric care for anxiety and taking anti-psychotic medication. It occurred to me that since the medication was prescribed for me in part to help me sleep, if I doubled the dose I was taking, it could help me more. And sure enough it did. And it also helped to take more Melatonin, Valerian and 5-HTP.

    And now since I know that getting to sleep is guaranteed, I’ve been able to reduce the anti-psychotic medication to normal levels. I can simply relax when I go to bed and stop any kind of trying to get to sleep. I think trying to sleep is totally counterproductive.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that anti-psychotic drugs are the best remedy for anyone with sleep issues. However, I do feel that natural substances such as 5-HTP, Valerian and Melatonin can be very helpful.
    Also I feel that in the tumultuous world that humanity is now living in anxiety and stress of all kinds routinely inhabit human hearts and minds. Since we are all linked at a subconscious level everyone feels this, making adequate sleep increasingly difficult, even a luxury.

    • I do remember this troubling time for you, Jerry. Thanks for sharing what worked for you personally. There are so many things that affect our sleep, and certainly no one thing (or combination of things) is a cure all. Finding the best solution is such an individual undertaking, and I dare say, the same thing that worked before may not work this time. I wonder if it’s because a lack of sleep is caused by many different things. So a hormonal imbalance (like a spike in cortisol that wakes one up in the middle) might need a different “remedy” than a lack of sleep due to stress.

      I also am reading Dr. Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and I think what she describes in this book—feeling overtired or too overwhelmed to go to sleep—often feels like what robs me of sleep. I tend to try to go to bed as soon as I’m tired, and not doing so, sends me down a negative cascade. This is hard to do when traveling some times. =) And is easy to do when I’m at home in my own environment.

      This is such a complex topic! Is it not?

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