Insomnia – I hate you
It’s 3am in the morning. You have a really busy day ahead of you and you need to be on top form. You have to turn up well rested, bright and alert. You have responsibilities, a job, children to look after, things you must do. But it’s just not happening. Insomnia has you in it’s grip and sleep is eluding you. Again!!
I love this quote from ‘silver surfers’ which sums up insomnia in a nutshell:
Brain at 3am:
‘I can see you are trying to sleep. So I would like to offer you a selection of every memory, unresolved issue, or things you should have said or done today. Or in the past 40 years!
How does Insomnia Work?
And this is exactly how it works isn’t it? These days there is so much stuff going round and round in our heads that we just can’t switch off.
Sometimes we are not even really conscious of the fact that our brains are on overdrive. We just know we cannot, absolutely cannot, get to sleep, stay asleep, or have an undisturbed nights rest.
For some this happens occasionally; is a nuisance and unpleasant but manageable. But for others insomnia is a constant challenge in their lives and they have forgotten what it feels like to wake up in the morning ready and eager to tackle the day ahead.
Endless hours spent tossing and turning, staring into the dark praying for sleep to come. Gritty sore eyes that desperate to close. Frustration with whirling thoughts and the knowledge that the morning will come round all too soon.
And then that moment when sleep finally comes two minutes before the alarm goes off. And it is time to get up, totally ill equipped to face the day ahead. The brain is working at half speed, everything is an effort and it feels like wading through treacle.
By mid-day it is hard to imagine how it will be possible to get through the afternoon without falling asleep on the spot. And why is it that falling asleep seems achievable at the very times when it is not acceptable!!!!
Does this sound like you?
If any of this sounds like something you are struggling with then I imagine you have tried all of the traditional remedies and approaches to curing insomnia. Don’t eat cheese or chocolate before bedtime. Don’t eat a heavy meal or take stimulants such as caffeine late in the evening.
Don’t think alcohol will help you get a good night’s sleep – it may help you get to sleep but it won’t allow for deep and good quality sleep. Meditation and mindfulness can calm the swirling thoughts. Yoga relaxes us. Sleeping tablets and natural and herbal relaxants can offer temporary relief but tend to give a ‘hungover’ feeling the next day.
Go to bed later, go to bed earlier, tire yourself out with exercise. The list is endless and there is some merit to all of them but here’s the thing. If they worked and were sustainable – you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. They are at best temporary measures to give short lived respite from insomnia.
What is really going on?
Why is it so difficult to sleep – something which is as natural as breathing, and let’s face it none of us have problems with that on a regular basis!
Well as we have already figured out, it is because the brain, the mind, the subconscious or whatever you want to call it will not switch off. But why? What is it trying to achieve? Surely it is on our side? It is part of us after all and should be trying to support us by giving us what we need – what we crave the most?
Well in fact it (I will call it the subconscious) is doing exactly that. BUT – it is operating from a set of rules, an operating manual, a programme that we didn’t consciously write for it. And it is written in a language we don’t understand.
But I just want a good night’s sleep!”
On one level we think we are being very clear about what we want our subconscious to do for us. Stop worrying about things at night that only belong in the daytime. Give me some peace. Have a rest at night so we are good to go the next day. Just give me a good night’s sleep!
That seems clear and unequivocal and actually quite straightforward. Not too hard a task for the complex and wonderful subconscious. But therein lies the key. The subconscious is complex and the programme it operates from over-rides the instructions you give it from a conscious plane.
Your subconscious logs every uncomfortable feeling or experience you have ever had. And then beavers away in the background (constantly) to prevent you from feeling or experiencing that again. Ever!
It takes its job very seriously. It works from the ancient part of the brain (the Amygdala). And it can’t tell the difference between very real threat such as being chased by a tiger or the ‘threat’ of missing a deadline. Or having too much on your plate, issues at work, relationship or money worries etc.
So your subconscious is much more concerned about protecting you from threats (real or perceived) than in getting some sleep. Its logic is – who needs sleep whilst they are being chased by a tiger? Remember the subconscious can’t tell the difference between a tiger and a bullying boss!
So this is all fairly obvious right?
We know the brain won’t switch off at night.
Why am I telling you what you already know? I ’m telling you because once we understand why the brain/subconscious is ‘doing this to us’ (because that’s what it feels like) we realise that it is trying to keep us safe from ‘threat’.
Once we know that – we also know that none of the traditional remedies are going to work for us. We need something which will reassure our minds that we are not in imminent danger of being eaten alive by a tiger. That our modern day worries need not trigger our ancient fight or flight instincts and keep us awake all night alert and at the ready!
How do I get a good night’s sleep?
There is a method which can do this. Which can tap into the subconscious and reassure it/re-programme it to understand the difference between real and perceived threat to our survival.
That is the function of the subconscious – to literally make sure we survive and it must be exhausted by all the additional threats that modern day stresses bring it. Oh wait – it is exhausted and so are you – through lack of sleep. A no win situation in modern day language.
But this method, which ironically is called Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – gets right to the heart of this issue. It works by tapping with the fingertips on acupressure points. This sends calming signals to the brain. Whilst you tap you focus on the issue at hand. This re-programmes the brain to associate that particular thing with feelings of relaxation rather than anxiety or worry or danger.
We naturally use these acupressure points to calm and soothe ourselves and others without even thinking about it – it is instinctive. We pat children’s heads or their backs when they are upset. we stoke their heads or foreheads to help them get to sleep. We massage our own temples when we are overwhelmed.
Why should I believe Tapping works?
I am an EFT practitioner. I am still continuously amazed by the results I see from using this technique.
One client came to me with insomnia issues he had been experiencing for years. He had no problem falling asleep. But would wake up at around 3am every single morning. And there was no way he was getting back to sleep.
At first he stayed in bed trying to doze on and off but eventually he resorted to getting up and watching TV or reading for hours every night. Just to avoid that awful frustration of lying in bed with sleep eluding him. In his case he actively tried to avoid allowing anxious thoughts to creep into his mind. But the resistance alone was enough to make sure that once he was awake he was staying awake.
Resistance requires focus and you can’t sleep whilst your mind is focused. Lack of sleep was having a huge impact on both his work and home life.
Paradoxically he did not find his job difficult. Although harassed by the volume, he managed well enough during the day. But because of the lack of sleep he found it increasingly more difficult to cope with his demanding workload. His relationships with colleagues his family suffered as a result.
He was desperate both for a good night’s sleep and to get his life back on track. After a number of sessions with me – he had cleared the anxiety and worry that was waking him up in the middle of the night.
Nothing had changed at work – the demands on his time and his workload did not change. But his subconscious was able recognise that nothing awful was going to happen if everything didn’t get done on time, or at all!
It wasn’t the end of the world – it wasn’t a tiger – it wasn’t actually even a real problem. Bizarrely my client had never actually missed deadlines or not achieved what was being asked of him. Once that shift had taken place – he was able to sleep! Job done!
If you want to work with me book yourself in for a complimentary session by clicking here
I help you get to the root of your problems and get rid of them for good! I work by Skype – and can teach you to use this self-help technique for your self whenever you need it. It is effective for any kind of emotional or trauma related issues.
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