Monday, 18 February 2013

Insomnia: How I conquered my sleepless nights.

 I used to suffer from waking in the middle of the night, typically at 3.00 in the morning. I would lie there in the dark with my head going round like a washing machine on it's final spin, or I would try and get comfortable but would be plagued by minute and uncomfortable wrinkles in the bedding that made it impossible to sleep.

But I have now developed a little routine that seems to work for me, and I’d like to share with you. I’d be really interested to hear if it works for you (or not).

So here’s what I do.

1)    When I awake I check to see if there something in my body, or environment that needs to be sorted out. So I might go to the bathroom, or turn off the radio, or close the window; whatever is required. I do NOT lie there wishing I was warmer or that the curtain was more closed. I sort it out. This is important because you are taking control of the situation rather than wallowing in disgruntled lethargy.

2)    Next, I make myself comfortable in a good sleeping position. After all I am planning to fall asleep. I am NOT planning to lie there awake. Therefore I must be sure to be in the most comfortable and suitable position. I do NOT lie on my back staring at ceiling like a gaping cod on the deck of a trawler. I do NOT check my phone, or start reading. These are things that will keep me awake.

3)    I start to breathe a bit more deeply and slowly than normal. That’s all I do first of all; about 10 or 20 times. Eyes shut. Breathe. Then I start a ritual in my head:

4)    On every exhalation I say to my self in my mind “Sleep” Just like a hypnotist would. It’s an order. Not an invitation. It is in the imperative case. With each exhalation I relax a little bit more. I don't think you can relax instantly, so I aim only for small incremental steps of relaxation. I do NOT move about I stay still. With each exhalation I relax a little bit more, and I command myself using the mind’s voice to “Sleep”.

5)    On every inhalation I count down one number starting from 300. I rarely get below 275. I loose count sometimes but I just take it up at the last number I remember. It doesn’t matter too much. With each number I KNOW that I am closer to sleep. Sometimes I half drop off to sleep and awake again. If that happens I  start the process again.
I normally find that I am not aware of falling asleep; but I awake a lot later. I am often surprised that it is 7:30 or something and that therefore I must have been asleep.

The combination of sorting things out, getting comfortable, progressive relaxation, and the counting seems to be very powerful for me.

The counting does two things. First: It stops me thinking about other things because it is just complex enough to shut out worries about tomorrow or indeed morbid fears, anxieties about death, the whereabouts of my keys etc. Second: It is a repetitive and easy enough and predictable.
Slow OUT “Sleep”

Slow IN 299

Slow OUT “Sleep”

Slow IN 298

Slow OUT “Sleep”

Slow IN 297. . . . .etc

It’s simple, and I’m amazed at how well it is working for me. Have a go. Tell me how it goes. Leave a message if you have any experiences doing this.

(Quick disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for your lack of sleep, I’m just saying this works for me)

Sleep Well.