Can’t sleep? Do squats.
After three sleepless nights tending to Brian, one of our kids who happened to have pneumonia topped off with a series of vicious asthma attacks, I was exhausted and decided to hit the sack early for a little nap. I fell asleep at around 9:30, fully clothed, with the intention of waking up after 30 minutes.
At 11:30 p.m. I heard whispering in my room. Allan, my husband, was chatting with Ferne, my 13-year-old daughter. She couldn’t sleep and needed some parental assistance. Half asleep, I tuned into the conversation.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I feel so bad that I woke you up Mom, but I really can’t sleep.”
“Go do squats,” was my reply.
Go do squats? At 11:30 at night? What the heck was I talking about? I got up out of bed and took her back to her room.
“Is something on your mind?” I asked.
“I can’t stop thinking about the boy in my class who died. Mom, I’m just so sad. And after being at home sick for four days, I am afraid that I will fall behind in class. I tried to read so that I could fall asleep but even my book is sad. I am so stressed – I just can’t sleep. ” she explained desperately.
“Ok, follow me.” And I took the lead.
With my eyes virtually closed, I started to do squats – I counted to 10 and then to 20. She did as I did. I instructed her to watch her form and straighten her back. Then I switched it up. We did leg lifts – I, 2, 3. Then leg curls, then side bends, then arm swings, and then more squats. I ordered her to lift her arms higher and bend her legs deeper. And then I started to laugh – hard – because I was literally leading an aerobics class at 11:30 p.m. as an antidote to insomnia. And she began to laugh with me – and I could see the stress evaporate from her face.
After 15 minutes of this routine, I was ready to hit the sack – and so was she. She gave me a massive hug and said thank you. She apologized again for waking me up. I tucked her in and gave her a little prayer to repeat.
“How many times, Mom?”
“5, 10, 15, 20, as many as it takes.”
We exchanged “I love you’s” and I went back to bed with an odd sense of pride at my whacky parenting approach. There’s a time and a place for every discussion and we would certainly be discussing each of her worries, fears, and concerns over the next few days, at a time when we weren’t tired and could think clearly. Squats just seemed more appropriate at that moment. My guess is that squats may be appropriate in far more situations than we can even imagine. Squats are under-rated.