You may know that feeling. It is getting late and you should turn in. But just the thought of going to bed makes you anxious. You have spent too many nights lying awake, tossing and turning, waiting in vain for sleep to finally overtake you. And the longer you wait, the more you get worried that you won’t have enough energy and clarity to handle all the tasks and obligation that are waiting for you tomorrow. Or you have no problems falling asleep, but after 2 to 3 hours, you are wide awake again, unable to get back into a comfortable slumber. At some point you may feel almost phobic, when it comes to going to bed and sleeping, which of course make your insomnia only worse.
Insomnia is one of the most prevalent health challenges. More than 40 million Americans are diagnosed with some kind of sleeping disorder. When I had started high-school and life all of the sudden appeared much more serious than before, I was also dealing with problems sleeping. The academic and social expectations made my head spin and my nervous system go on overload. Although my parents gave me some herbal sleeping aids, which seemed to help, the best remedy was still my 30 pound tom-cat, Lumpy, who I dragged into bed, when I felt especially worried. Hearing him purr and snore, somehow calmed me down, even though, stretched out, he occupied almost half of the mattress. Not everybody can draw on a Lumpy, which is why I will focus in the upcoming Empowerment Radio show on how to identify and address the root causes of insomnia. Let me already share with you some suggestions:
Avoid overloading your mind. Just as eating a heavy meal right before bedtime will most likely give you heartburn, feeding your brain with too much information at night will make it more difficult for your mind to slow and calm down. More than ever in the history of human mankind, we are exposed to an endless and overwhelming amount of information. After a stressful day at work or another won battle with the kids, all you want to do is to veg out. You aimlessly surf the hundreds of channels on TV, check on social media what others, with a seemingly much more interesting life than yours, are up to or you go back and forth texting with one of your friends. All of which is stimulating and engaging your mind, rather than giving it a well-deserved rest. What would happen, if you would work out daily and then at night run another half-marathon? Or if you would eat three times per day a double cheeseburger with large fries? Your body would play along for a while, until it would start to complain. Pain, weight gain, nausea all would be signs that you need to treat your body better. Insomnia and anxiety are messages of your mind, that you are asking too much of it and giving too little attention to its needs.
Simple ways to unwind your mind:
- Listen to relaxing music or a guided meditation
- Focus on your breath (for example inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds)
- Take a hot bath or a cleansing shower
- Fill a page out of an adult coloring books
- Give yourself a foot massage
- And of course, pet your cat or dog
Avoid negativity. It may be obvious and still for most of us a habit that is hard to break. Yet, if a rejuvenating sleep is your goal, observe a healthy negativity fast after 9:00 PM. Stay away from the news, violent or disturbing TV shows, and try to not check your work e-mail. Also, don’t engage in the most difficult conversations with your loved ones right before you hit the pillow. Your mind, especially your subconscious, which is mostly in charge of your sleep, will want to continue to vigilantly process and resolve the issues you presented it with. When the world is over-run by terrorist or zombies or your work or your relationships appear in danger, your subconscious activates its anxiety-driven survival mode, in which sleep isn’t a high priority.
Nourish your mind with positivity:
- Write down all the things you appreciated about yourself and your life on that day
- Read a few pages in an uplifting book
- Explore your spirituality
- Think about a wonderful vacation or something you look forward to
- Practice the gift of surrender and letting go of control
- Visualize yourself sleeping like a baby, completely relaxed and at ease
Join me on Empowerment Radio show and learn more tools and insights on how you can overcome insomnia and create deep and restful sleep.