Four year old Mads has been having trouble getting to sleep lately. She starts drifting off, then explodes into an over-excited state, fidgeting around, rearranging her room, re-aligning all of the stuffed bears who perch atop the battered old red sofabed we keep in her bedroom.
She selects a different stuffed animal every night, chats away to it, brushes its fur, and tucks it neatly into her bed. She tries to squeeze in beside it, and as it tumbles out she starts the whole process again. Then it’s time for another sip of water, another wee, another book to look at. Then the label on her nightie is “noying” her, then she can’t get her duvet to lie flat on the bed and “it doesn’t look pretty”. Then her pillow needs fluffing.
This fidgeting around only used to take a couple of minutes but these days it is really dragging on.
Just like me, she’s unable to quiet her mind before bed, and I’m sure she is doomed to a lifetime of lying wide awake in bed praying for sleep to come, and cursing her vivid imagination come morning.
I decided to try and give her some hints for quieting her mind. Although what do I know? I think my brain functions best at 2 a.m. and am cursed with living in a society that expects me (needs me) to be up at 7. Well, 7:30 (thanks hubby).
Anyhow, my trick for luring my brain into a state ready for sleep is to hum the intro to the Spiderman cartoon from the 80s while picturing the web spinning around and around just as it did on TV. The effect is that I feel somewhat dizzy and a little bored by the monotony of only ever remembering the first few bars of the music.
But a definite side effect is that I am certainly not trying to work out some bizarre mathematical equation in my head, or trying to think of a Geek Joke to top Dino's annoyingly clever [hip,hip] joke. Or trying to work out the solution to an unknown bug in my amateur PHP code on my main blog about everything child friendly. Or trying to calculate the ideal number of seconds for fade out of the intro music on my video tutorial for British Mummy Bloggers (BritMums). You get the picture.
Weird geeky brain buzzing temporarily blotted out, I occasionally fall asleep. It works at least 10% of the time, so in my books a shining success.
I tried to teach this extremely useful trick to my four year old daughter.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually try and make her learn the first few bars of the Spiderman cartoon intro track, nor did I admit my 10% success rate. I shared my Sure (ish) Route to Sound Sleep advice with my little girl, smiling slightly smugly with the knowledge that she would take my advice to heart, and that it would transform her sleep forever.
My four year old girl then looked at me with roll-your-eyes exasperation, and said with the wisdom sometimes only a four year old can have:
“Mummy, my imagination is just too busy. I can’t make it imagine something boring, it just imagines whatever it wants to imagine. So I just have to wait until it’s finished and then I can go to sleep.”
Image courtesy of Spigoo on Flickr.