Tag Archives: Insomnia

Overcoming Insomnia

insomnia

We have already seen that those of us who have experienced significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of developing insomnia.

Fortunately, however, with an increasing amount of research being conducted into the condition, we are learning more and more about how we can overcome it. I provide a list of the main ways the experts suggest we deal with insomnia below:

1) Remind ourselves that insomnia is a common complaint and that it does not do as much harm as many people think

2) Remind ourselves that it is eminently treatable and does not need to be a long-term condition

3) Turn off the light as soon as we go to bed and ensure the room is as dark as possible. The reason for this is that the darkness helps the body produce more of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin.

In connection with this it should be noted that ‘blue light’ is especially disruptive to sleep. Unfortunately, gadgets such as computers, tablets and smart phones emit such blue light so it follows that we should refrain from using such gadgets directly before we go to bed.

Indeed, research now shows that wearing amber tinted glasses (which block out blue light) can improve not just our sleep, but also our mood.

Finally, in relation to the effects of light on sleep, it has been found that individuals who feel the need to have a night light switched permanently on, perhaps because they suffer from nightmares/ night terrors, may benefit from one that emits red light; this is because red light does not adversely affect the body’s production of melatonin.

4) Only go to bed when sleepy (hopefully, this will lead to a mental association between bed and sleep – but to help make this happen, it will also be necessary to stick to point number 5, below).

5) If you’ve been lying in bed awake for more than 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing.

6) Research suggests that the ideal room temperature in which to sleep is approximately 18 degrees Celsius

7) Psychologically, it helps anxious/fearful type individuals to feel extra-safe in their bedroom which may be achieved, for example, by fitting a strong lock to the bedroom door.

8) It is well known, of course, that taking at least moderate exercise during the day helps one to sleep well at night; in this respect, T’ai chi and yoga may be of particular benefit.

9) A small amount of carbohydrate (say, 200-250g) before going to bed can have a relaxing and soporific effect.

10) Research suggests that a room humidity of about 65% is optimum for most people.

11) Many people lie in bed at night worrying about what they have to do the next day. Therefore, making a ‘to do’ list before going to bed and then telling yourself you now don’t need to think about it again until the next day can be helpful in preventing nocturnal fretting.

12) Try aromatherapy (eg spray some lavender aroma on your pillow)

13) Try visualization techniques

14) Try to concentrate on thinking about positive things (such as happy memories)

15) If negative or distressing thoughts intrude, try a thought blocking technique such as mentally repeating a neutral word such as ‘the’.

16) Trying desperately to sleep, of course, does not work. Paradoxically, trying to stay awake can help to induce sleep.

17) Remind yourself that, even though you are not asleep, the rest is still doing you good.

Resources :

Insomnia Beater Pack

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc,; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Afraid Of Going To Sleep?

Are You Afraid Of Going To Sleep?

My so-called ‘sleep’ (it’s stretching things to dignify it with that word, actually, even in inverted commas), in the past, has been appalling : it would take me at least three hours to lose consciousness, and, even then, I would wake, with a violent, shuddering start, ridiculously frequently throughout the night, sometimes shouting, or even screaming, and, not infrequently, drenched in sweat, making my pillow so damp that it would be necessary to turn it over (then, as the night progressed tortuously slowly, use the second pillow, then have to turn that one over…)

My intensely vivid nightmares would be filled with the most horrific violence, of which I was invariably the recipient – I would be sawn in half, chopped up with a machete, or otherwise maimed and mutilated.

Insomnia_nightmares_afraid to go to sleep

I still get up at about 4.30 am as by then I am fully awake and there is no hope of even lightly dozing (as you may well know, early morning waking, coupled with the inability to fall back to sleep, is a classic hallmark of depression).

Once I’m up, I feel I need to take a long rest in order to recover from my nocturnal ordeal : in other words, my ‘sleep’ necessitates a (tormentingly elusive) sleep.

When things were at their worst, in fact, I would dread going to bed, almost to the point of physical nausea.

If we have developed post traumatic stress disorder as a result of our painful childhood experiences it is very likely that we will, without effective therapy, suffer insomnia and nightmares as adults, similar to that described above.

This is because PTSD leads to a feeling of constantly being on ‘red alert’ / on the look out for danger. Clearly, this is hardly a state of mind conducive to a blissful night’s sleep.

If we have terrifying nightmares, as alluded to above, we may become very fearful of going to sleep and try to stay awake for as long as possible, in a pitiful attempt to postpone our descent into our night-time Hades.

Of course, this can only work in the very short term.

If we constantly put off going to bed and, when we finally do go to bed, our sleep is disrupted by our nightmares and, perhaps, too, frequent waking, we will quickly become chronically exhausted (mentally, physically and emotionally) and, essentially, sleep deprived.

This can lead to:

– an exacerbation of existing depression

– high levels of irritability / proneness to outbursts of rage in response to even (objectively speaking) minor frustrations

– an increase in anxiety levels

If the sleep deprivation becomes severe, then, in addition to the above, we may:

– hallucinate

– become increasingly irrational / develop impaired judgment

 

The internet is awash with information about action to take to reduce insomnia and nightmares and to repeat it all here would be superfluous. However, two tips that I found useful were :

1) Imagine self in a safe and secure place when intending to fall asleep

2) If really can’t fall asleep try to relax in a different room for as long as necessary

Afraid Of Going To Sleep Because Of Nightmares?

These can imitate past traumas we have suffered or symbolically represent them. When waking from a nightmare and feeling frightened, it is useful for us to try to ‘self-sooth’ by, for example, telling ourselves:

– ‘I am safe now’

– ‘It’s over – it’s not happening now, it’s in the past.’

– ‘It’s just my imagination – it’s not real.’

Finally, of course, ‘trying hard’ to fall asleep and getting angry and frustrated about our inability to do so is counter-productive. Paradoxically, trying hard to stay awake when tired is more likely to induce sleep.

Resources:

‘Stop recurring nightmares’ hypnosis download : click here

Get back to sleep quickly’ hypnosis download : click here

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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