Helpful Strategies for Resolving Insomnia
by Pati McDermott, CHTMost people experience an occasional sleepless night. During times of stress or heightened excitement it is normal to have difficulty falling asleep for a night or two. However, many people have trouble falling asleep more frequently, and for some this is a nightly problem. If insomnia is an ongoing issue it is recommended that you seek professional help to find the cause and resolve this difficulty. Good sleep is essential to physical health and a sense of peace and well-being. In this article you will find some strategies that you can use to find help in resolving this.
Experts Call This 'Sleep Hygiene'
Sleep research has shown that it is best to go to bed at around the same time every night. Staying up later on the weekend is fine but sleep in the next day to be fully rested. Take a nap during the day if you plan to be up later than your bedtime so that you don't become overly tired and can enjoy your late night of fun. Avoid all caffeine and other stimulants until you have established healthy sleeping patterns. Caffeine is often implicated in difficult sleep patterns. Associate your bedroom primarily with sleeping. Avoid all activities in bed except sex and sleeping. Watching TV, reading, talking, and other activities are best done elsewhere so that you associate your bed with sleeping. Sleep experts also recommend a cool, completely dark, quiet bedroom with electronic devices removed. Switch to a battery-powered clock, put your phone on airplane mode, and turn off everything else. If you must have a computer or other electronic devices in your bedroom, attach everything to a power strip that you turn off before going to bed. Wi-Fi can also be a culprit in creating agitation. Sleeping in a slightly cold room with heavy blankets can have a calming effect. You can even buy a weighted blanket that is designed to sooth anxiety.
One Hour Wind Down
I have helped many clients with insomnia with the same basic advice. Set a reasonable bedtime that allows for a full night's sleep. For one hour before bedtime, engage in winding down activities such as watching TV, reading, washing dishes, getting clothes ready for the next day, having a bath or a shower, light housecleaning, and any activity that does not require full attention. Do not watch the news or do anything that is stimulating, including using electronic LED screens. This is a time of winding down, not winding up. Be in bed, not getting ready for bed, but in bed with the lights out, at your designated bed time. If you have had an hour to wind down you are relaxed and ready for sleep.
If you are not asleep within 20-30 minutes then you might be experiencing insomnia. You have two choices: either lay in bed and rest and relax as much as you can or get up and try again. It is often recommended to get up and do more of the winding down activities such as a crossword puzzle or light housework. Then after a few minutes go back to bed to fall asleep within 20-30 minutes. If that doesn't work you might try a third time. If this is common then it's time to evaluate why you are not falling asleep.
Your Unique Internal Clock
Some people try to fall asleep before they are sleepy because of work and daytime commitments. Everyone has their own body schedule. If you are going against your natural rhythm you might have to look at your work schedule and make some adjustments in your lifestyle to accommodate a different sleep schedule. If you are not naturally sleepy at the time you are going to bed, that does not necessarily mean that you have insomnia. It might mean that you have a different internal schedule. Consider a different bedtime that matches when you are naturally sleepy and wake up at a time when you feel rested. Match your work schedule accordingly. This can be a challenging change to make but you will be happier if you are working and sleeping at the hours that match you.
Designate Think Time During The Day
One of the most common forms of insomnia is lying awake thinking about problems, or just thinking about anything with a mind that won't stop. This might mean that you are not allowing enough time in your day to think through whatever is on your mind. Notice what you are thinking about and allocate time during the day to think through those issues. Tell your mind that this is not the right time to think about something that is keeping you awake. Set aside time for thinking, every day if you need to, so that you are not awake thinking when you need to be sleeping.
The Effects Of Anxiety
Some people fall asleep easily but wake up suddenly from a sound sleep, and then are awake thinking or panicked. This might not be insomnia but an anxiety problem instead. Stresses and worries can be so strong that they interrupt a sound sleep. That is a different problem than having trouble falling asleep. Many of my clients come to me with anxiety issues for my specialized help in resolving that mental pattern. Some have mentioned insomnia as an afterthought. When we resolved their insomnia, their anxiety went away and that was all they needed. Sometimes some simple changes with sleep hygiene made all the difference.
Recent research has revealed that in the long ago past, before the industrial age, it was common for people to sleep twice a day rather than once. There is historical evidence of people commenting on their "first sleep" and their "second sleep". First sleep was typically between 4-6 hours. People would wake up to do farm chores, have a meal, read, create arts and crafts, and do other quiet activities. Then they would go back to bed for a long nap of two more hours or sometimes have a second long sleep of 4-6 hours. If you have a loose schedule, you might find yourself naturally reverting to this style of sleeping that was normal before people's days became so structured by the 8+ hour workday.
If you are following your body's natural rhythm and still having trouble falling asleep you might be one of the many people who would benefit from professional help in resolving insomnia. This is a common problem that can be solved.
In my work with clients, we find the root cause of the issue and resolve it. The mind stores patterns as information. If you are running a pattern that is not working for you it can be accessed and changed. There are many things that can cause someone to store a pattern that is unhealthy for them. Often there is trauma stored such as a bad experience or a series of bad experiences. Many people carry multiple bad memories that eventually cause an overload. Some people set up their lives in a way that is not working for them and then have trouble figuring out how to change it. We always look at lifestyle choices that create the greatest sense of peace and happiness.
A state of mind is just a state of mind. You can access any state of mind that you choose to have once you know how to do that. Changing your state of mind is like changing a pair of shoes. You just step into it. Sometimes that is easier said than done, however with guidance it is a skill that anyone can learn. Much of the work that I do with clients involves teaching the mind to access the preferred mental states rather than the ones that life and conditioning have created. Each state has a corresponding internal chemistry which creates an entire body reaction that sometimes relates to sleep disturbances as well. Everything is related: lifestyle, unresolved past issues, self-esteem, internal chemistry, conditioned responses, and so on. In my work with clients we create an optimal life in all of these areas, and we teach the mind to respond in our chosen way. We can resolve whatever issues might be troubling you such as health concerns, relationship, or career issues... we look at everything and work it all out. We learn to communicate with your own internal voice and create the peace and joy that you need to be happy. When life is good, sound sleep is too.
Pati McDermott, CHT
Certified NLP Master Practitioner
Certified NLP Health Practitioner
Certified TPM Advanced Master Practitioner
call any time: 877-881-4348
Private sessions since 1990
Appointments available by telephone
© 2023 by Pati McDermott