Healing Insomnia takes Trust, Discipline and Compassion
As an insomnia sufferer on and off for most of my life I really get the impact it has on well-being. Good sleep is as fundamental to the body as eating. Without sleep, the body gets vulnerable to illness and intense states of mind. No matter how difficult something is, it is always easier to face after a good nights sleep versus no sleep.
I’ve been personally forced to really delve into the nature of insomnia both in myself and the many clients I have worked with. I’ve come to a number of conclusions about it, some of which the medical field agrees with, others not so much.
First off, if there is persistent insomnia for extended periods the most important thing to check for is proper air flow. Many times sleep apnea or other causes of poor or interrupted air flow can create insomnia. Don’t underestimate this! It truly can be an issue. If poor air flow is addressed or not an issue at all then here’s the basics of what you can do to work with insomnia. This takes discipline, trust and compassion in order to be able to reduce insomnia and increase sleep.
- Try to go to sleep around the same time every night before midnight!
- If you can’t fall asleep in twenty to thirty minutes get out of bed for awhile. You want to train you mind to associate bed with sleep.
- Take a hot shower or bath before bed every night. The heat tends to calm the nervous system for people with very active minds.
- Don’t watch TV or use the computer at least an hour before bed. The light from the screen can trick the brain into thinking it is day time.
- Don’t do highly creative activities before bed. Sometime creative activities such as creating music can bring to much energy into the nervous system before sleep.
- Listen to music designed for sleep while laying in bed. The right music can really help! However, certain types of music will just activate wakefulness. So the kind of music is essential.
- Certain types of meditation practice can go a long way. Again, a meditation practice that is calming would be important here.
- Working with supplements can help, however, it doesn’t always help so don’t assume it will be a quick fix.
- Medication might be helpful if you really can’t sleep. But again this needs to be considered carefully since you can become dependent on medication.
- Waking up around the same time is important, and also waking up before 9:00am is usually helpful. However, if the only time you can sleep is in the morning than sleep is most important until you can adjust your rhythm.
- Breathing exercise where you slow down the breath can really help. In the yoga tradition they teach that the more breaths per minute the more thoughts per minute. So slowing down the breathing pattern while lying in bed can help. Sometimes overactive thinking is a big source of insomnia.
- Most importantly, what is this insomnia trying to teach you? It takes trust that the insomnia is not an enemy but indicative of a lesson or some imbalance that needs attention.