Insomnia ! I can't sleep !

Jun 17, 2020

If you are experiencing insomnia you may often feel just desperate to sleep. The harder you try, the more elusive sleep becomes. Just as insomnia often creeps up on us slowly, the resumption of better sleep can be incremental as well. If you want to really make some faster progress in improving your own sleep a really good strategy is to look for exceptions to your poor sleep.

Can you remember the last few times that you slept reasonably well ? What was different in the days before those nights with good sleep ?

What might have helped could well be one or more of the following .....

Frequent hard physical work or exercise.

Enjoying work

Feeling connected to others

Feeling financially secure

Feeling appreciated

Feeling safe and hopeful for your future

Coping with life's challenges, stress.

Eating well

Having fun

Satisfying sex life or physical touch

Feeling listened to

No Addictions or addictions manageable

(alcohol, caffeine, all substances, gambling, work, worry, sex, love, spending, hoarding, porn). Addictions eventually lead to not coping, and people who are not coping find it more and more difficult to sleep. People who don't sleep find it more and more difficult to cope. A vicious circle !

If you look at the above list and put a number from 1 to 10 next to each of the above factors.  "10" for an area of lack or problem in your life through to up to  "1" if you are feeling good about that area in your life.

Where are you getting high scores ?  If you have many high scores it will be more difficult to get back to long term restorative sleep, even with medication.

Some of the above factors (in the list) you may feel unable to change ....  so focus on what you can change and sleep will become increasing likely and longer, but be patient, there is no silver bullet, but there is hope if you can commit to paying attention to areas where your life is out of balance and making changes.

Not sleeping is a sign that something is out of balance or something needs attention and that you might need help. When you wake late at night, don't try and fight the insomnia, just remember your new sleep plan and never give up hope. Play the long game. Remember that every positive change will slowly tip the balance toward sleep. If you have a medication that is creating problems talk to your G.P.  If you have issues that are getting too big to work out by yourself, try counselling.

Some tips !

-Don't stay in bed if you cant sleep at night. Get up and go to another room, read, watch a movie and return to bed when you are feeling really tired. If you don't do this your bed will become associated to worry, not sleeping, browsing the web or watching TV etc.  Your bed is for sleeping and sex, nothing else!

-Don't nap during the day as this will set you up for poor sleep the very next night. Do this often enough and you will become nocturnal. Naps during the day and wake all night !

-Do you have sleep apnea. (Waking up fighting for breath). See your G.P.!

-Notice what you are thinking about when you wake up at night. if It's a recurring theme this can be a sign that it is something that needs to be talked about with a friend or counsellor.

For example Danny is anxious about bills and money and he has coped recently by not opening his bills, not facing reality and trying to stay in denial about his debts.

As the bills piled up on top of the fridge Danny noticed that he was waking up at night and the very thing he was not dealing with during the day was coming back at night. From 3am till 5am Danny's mind is racing, worrying.  If there is something that needs dealing with in your life it will often be worrying the same thing that keeps you awake at night. What are you thinking about or feeling at 3am It could be something quite "random' or is there a theme ?

Counselling can help you get a handle on those worries, racing thoughts with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is a much better option than becoming dependent on medication.

Sleep medications are only supposed to be used short term (3 weeks for Imovane). Longer use can lead to rebound anxiety in afternoons and dependence. Ask your G.P. about sleep medication side effects.

Depression, Anxiety, Burnout, PTSD, also can make sleep challenging.

See my other posts on Depression and Neural Pathways

Martin Fraser, B.A. (Hons) Psyc. Dip Counselling.

Particular interest in enhancing resilience in my community against Depression, Anxiety, Isolation and Addictions. Member of NZ Assoc Counsellors.

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