The Color of the Fence

The Color of the Fence

When my daughters were little girls and I would tuck them in at night we played imagination games together so I could get them to fall asleep.

Many times the bedtime readings were not enough…and Dr. Seuss usually got them more excited than relaxed at bedtime.

One day I invented a game that worked for me for years in helping get them to sleep and just last night when I found myself wide awake at 2 am I thought of the game again…and sure enough, it worked!  I fell asleep within 5 or 6 minutes.

This is how the game went.  I would ask them a series of questions meant to help them visualize a pasture with sheep, and then we would count the sheep.  I know…not very original…but it was…because each night we played, the pasture and the sheep would change.

First I would tell them to close their eyes and think of a field with short grass.  And then the questions would begin:

  1. What color is the grass?
  2. Let’s build a wooden fence around the field.  What color is your fence?
  3. We left all the sheep outside the fence!  What color are the sheep?
  4. How many sheep do you think we have?  Let’s count them as they jump over the fence…
  5. and so we would count…slowly, until they fell asleep.

My oldest daughter loved this game and she was very imaginative with her sheep.  Her grass was almost always pink when she was very little and later it was always green because “there is no such thing as pink grass mom!”  Her sheep sometimes had stripes and polka dots and once they were all rainbow sheep.

She, being the oldest of course, outgrew the game first–one day announcing “I’m sleepy mom, I don’t want to build a fence.” And soon after, this little game was not needed for her to fall asleep. She has always been straightforward and logical.

The youngest also enjoyed this game but always tried to outsmart me. I would ask her the game questions and she would answer with a question of her own.  I would ask her what color is your fence? and she would ask me why the fence had to be made of wood?

It always took me a little bit more time to get her to sleep and I have to admit a few times I think she put me to sleep because I would wake up sometimes an hour later, still in her bed beside her.

She outgrew the game when she decided one evening that she did not want the sheep to jump the fence and come poop in her field. She has always been curious and practical.

And so the game was forgotten.

Until last night I had not thought of it in a long time…but in my mind I thought of long yellow grass, surrounded by a short white wooden fence.  I thought of white and gray sheep and as I visualized them jumping over the fence into the field I started to count…1, 2, 3, …. I was asleep before I knew it. The game still works.

What color is your fence?

A Good Night’s Sleep

A Good Night’s Sleep

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.

As I’ve gotten older getting good rest has become harder, I’m not sure exactly why.

But getting a good night’s rest has many benefits.

The most obvious one, of course, is that you feel less tired the next day. Sleeping well helps you have the energy to tackle all the tasks you have for the next day.

Your mind is sharper. When I get good rest I can think more clearly and I don’t have such a hard time remembering small details or facts that I need to recall.

I eat less when I have a good night’s sleep also. This is probably due to the fact that when you are not sleep deprived your body’s calorie burning and calorie measuring machine is working at optimum levels.

Problems and decisions that seemed so large the evening before usually become much more manageable after a good night’s sleep. This is probably why people say to take some time and “sleep on it.”

So how you get a good night’s rest?

I first thought about when it was in my life I had the best sleep and I realized it was when I was a kid.

I started constructing the steps to getting a good night’s sleep like I did back then and it really helped me. Here is what I do:

1. I go to sleep at the same time every night. I know it may sound boring and unimaginative but the body does get used to being on a routine. It is the signal that tells the brain that the day has ended and that now it must rest.

2. I wash my face and brush my teeth. Creating a little cleansing ritual–whatever that may be–begins the process of self care that tells your body to begin relaxing.

3. I kiss someone goodnight.  I know it sounds silly to make this a step–but for me it really works! As a kid I always kissed my parents before I went to bed. Now as an adult I always kiss my husband goodnight.

If you don’t have a husband or wife–kiss the dog goodnight or get a pet rock, whatever works for you. But it is important to know that there is love in the world and in your life and that tomorrow is filled with promise. This will help you sleep.

4. Say your prayers.  Before I nod off I always thank God for the day that just passed, for the health of my family, our safety and any other things that happened that day.  I also ask for continued blessings, help, patience, ideas, strength, understanding, compassion etc. that I may need or want for the next day. Amen.

At this point, I have set myself up for a good night’s rest and most of the time it works wonders to help me relax and let go of the stresses and pressures of living and it helps remind me not to take things–and myself–so seriously.

However, if I do wake up–or still have trouble going to sleep–after these steps, I just start to count.  I used to count sheep–literally, I would imagine sheep jumping over a small fence and I would count them–but now I just count until I fall asleep. I have never gotten past 200.

Setting yourself up to have a good night’s rest will give you far better chances that you will have a good night’s sleep and you will be ready to tackle another day!

What keeps you up at night? Does having a good night’s sleep help you have a good day? Share your thoughts in the comments below! And have a good day!