How I FINALLY Fell Asleep During Deployment
Brave Crate September 2018 Fall Asleep Deployment

It was 4:30 a.m. and I should not have been awake.

I had to leave for my first meeting of the day in just three hours, but I hadn’t slept for even a moment since laying in bed.  This was becoming my new normal, and it was having a major impact on every other area of my life.

There are night owls, there are early birds, and then there’s me.  I don’t love to stay up late or to wake up early.  What I actually love the most is sleeping.  Early to bed, late to rise- I like my full nine hours of sleep (yes! nine hours- really!)

Considering my absolute love of all things related to bedtime, you can imagine that this newfound inability to close my eyes and drift off to dreamland was a major blow during already stressful season  After some serious soul searching I knew I needed to get a handle on my bedtime bad habits. By the end of deployment, I was sleeping soundly- here’s how I did it…

1.  Talk to an Expert
Sleep is pretty serious stuff.  Besides keeping us going, it can also tell us when there may be some other area of our health that we need to pay attention to.  Before overhauling my deployment sleep habits I visited my family physician to confirm that there were no underlying health concerns impacting my sleep.

After getting the “all clear” from a health professional, I felt empowered to take control of my bedtime routine.  I was confident that my bedtime troubles were related to the change in my schedule and habits due to the deployment season, and knew it was within my control to reimagine that routine in a healthier way!

2. Identify the Culprits
Before diving into a black hole of youtube videos describing the “Perfect Bedtime Routine” (I’m looking at you Rowena Tsai!)  I took a full week to track my bedtime habits. My goal in this phase was not to change anything, but just to give myself an honest read of my current before-bed tendencies.  If you received the August Brave Crate your bullet journal is a great way to track this!

My major culprits contributing to poor sleep were:

  • Before bed snacking
  • Netflix bingeing to distract me from loneliness
  • 1 a.m. skype calls with my husband
  • Finishing my to-do list late into the night
  • Hitting snooze in the morning

3. Replace the Bad Habits
After taking the time to carefully identify where my nighttime routine was being thrown off-track, I decided on a bedtime and wake-up time that I would commit to for the rest of the deployment season.  Then, I got down to the tough stuff and replaced each of my poor sleep habits with a more productive alternative.

Here were my replacements:

  • Before bed snacking
    One cup of lavender or chamomile tea one hour before bed
  • Netflix bingeing to distract me from loneliness
    Reading a real book with a reading lamp 30 minutes before bed
  • 1 a.m. skype calls with my husband
    Sending my husband a Good Night text, and waking up to a Good Morning email from him
  • Finishing my to-do list late into the night
    Journaling my unfinished to-do items, and planning them into my next day
  • Hitting snooze in the morning
    Waking up to Taylor Swift from across the room!

4. Ask for accountability
With my new and improved bedtime routine planned out, I was ready to face my sleep struggles head-on.  While the changes I outlined might sound simple, these were seriously tough habits to break- especially when flying solo during a deployment (somehow eating cheez-its at 1 am is less problematic if you’re the only one in the house, right!?)

Instead of going it alone, I decided to enlist my husband for help from across the ocean by asking him to hold me accountable with a daily check-in.  I committed to sticking with my new bedtime and nighttime routine for three weeks and invited him to ask me how it was going each day. Knowing I would be sharing my progress helped me to stay on track, especially on evenings where I was tempted to fall into past habits.

5. Have Patience (and Persistence)

Poor sleep habits are tough to break in any situation, but the stress and business of the deployment season can make that even more difficult.  My journey to restful sleep did not happen overnight 😉

There were nights that I opted to watch Greys Anatomy instead of reading a quiet book.
There were nights that I stayed up cleaning the kitchen way too late
There were definitely mornings that I ignored Taylor and hit the snooze button.

But the next night I would try again.  And eventually, the routine became a habit, and the habit became an essential part of my life.

Deployment. Does. Suck.

But it is also a blessing.  I am so grateful for the way that this season of separation can teach us to prioritize our health by owning and prioritizing our sleep habits.  This is just one of the many lessons deployment shares with the Military Spouse that she will carry through life.

We’d love to hear what techniques you’ve used to get better sleep during deployment!