Sleep & Health – Good Sleep Anywhere
When I speak to someone struggling with sleep, the conversation almost always immediately revolves around the topic of how to fix insomnia. Well that’s obvious. Who wants to lie awake in bed all night? But have you ever wondered if this “fixing approach” works for your sleep problem? If this approach could even add to your struggle?
If not, I would like to invite you to reconsider your fixation agenda and take a completely different approach where you will learn some new skills.
What have you tried to fix your insomnia?
If you have trouble sleeping, there is a good chance that you are desperately trying to get rid of the unhelpful thoughts and feelings at night and thinking, “If only I could turn my mind off!”
And maybe you tried different things to achieve this. You may have changed your sleeping environment and diet, performed long sleep rituals, started a new exercise or relaxation routine, and may even be dependent on pills. But does it work?
Also interesting: How does sleep affect your mental health?
Often times, these changes not only affect your everyday life at home, but also your social life and the way you work. While suffering from insomnia, I got to the point where I refused to go out with friends and feared it would jeopardize my daily winding-up routine.
Is Your Current Approach To Insomnia Cure Working?
So you’ve tried practically everything that is supposed to work (and if those strategies work – I don’t mean just for a night or two, but to get better sleep consistently – then that’s great!)
Okay, so maybe you found a way to suppress your thoughts and feelings that has worked in the past for a while. But here you are again, reading those words and still wanting some magic formula to make them go away.
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However, if you are still wide awake in bed at night and your mind racing, it is time to rethink your strategy for approaching your insomnia.
It’s almost like something is wrong; Despite your best efforts to calm your mind, you don’t have those disturbing thoughts and feelings – they are still here. You may think that you just can’t move on. And I bet you told yourself, too, that all you have to do is keep going to just get over it. But does it work?
Does trying to make the pain go away work?
I can relate very much to wanting to escape the discomfort. I know this fight and how painful it is and how much it costs. In fact, if I sat next to you now and you told me about your sleep struggle, all I would want is to do better for you to relieve your pain.
Or to put it this way, it would be nice for both of us if I could tell you that I have a way to relieve your insomnia and pain, but again – would that work?
The answer is No. That would be just one more thing to add to the long list of what you have tried to get rid of insomnia. On one hand, I really have a feel for the struggle you are in and, on the other hand, I know that anything I would do to relieve your pain would just be another impractical strategy.
What if you try? Not experiencing what you are experiencing makes you suffer?
This is not about convincing you. I want you to go inside yourself and draw from your own experience. Be really honest with yourself. And if you feel that your current approach is not working, then let me point that out here.
What if trying to get over it and not learn what you are experiencing is not the solution but the underlying problem? What if difficult thoughts and feelings don’t keep you awake but try to get over them? If you try not to experience what you are experiencing, do you suffer?
Also interesting: Acceptance and Bonding Therapy (ACT) – healing insomnia without medication
In other words, it is not the existence of challenging thoughts and feelings that is to blame for the suffering, but how you relate to them. Because the truth is that trying to make unwanted thoughts, feelings, memories, or sensations go away doesn’t work – not for you, not for me, not for anyone.
Why does trying to get rid of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings hold you tight?
We have all learned to view unwanted experiences as unbearable and abnormal. Culture has taught us this feel-good agenda since we were able to speak for the first time: “Just control your thoughts. Stop being so negative. Think more positively. “
That is why we focus on the overarching idea so that we shouldn’t feel uncomfortable inside. There is something wrong with experiencing painful thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations. You thought that this was about you, that something was wrong with you because you were unable to get over it.
And so we try everything to get rid of them. But that’s a trap because the simple truth is;
Psychological suffering is inevitably woven into human life. It is part of being human to feel pain and internal discomfort. There is no magic wand that will effortlessly rid you of all your troubles. So the feel good agenda doesn’t work and may even work against you because it keeps you trapped in a fight that you cannot win.
Also interesting: Why Understanding the Difference Between Judging and Describing Is Critical To Curing Insomnia
I know this may not be what you want to hear right now. It may be uncomfortable, or surprising, or bothersome to you, but it’s not bad news. I mean, just because I am suggesting that there is no solution to the pain that comes with not getting enough sleep, doesn’t mean you are going to put up with claiming that all is pointless.
But if you are having trouble sleeping and are experiencing a lot of unhelpful thoughts and feelings while you are awake, it is useful to be ready to have that defenseless experience and make room for it.
Try these three steps: Note, register and mark your thoughts and feelings
I know this is not easy and so it is better to be prepared. I would like to invite you to try it out now. Just notice what you are going through as you read these words without trying to somehow change or solve it. Just notice, register and label your thoughts and feelings. Willingly come in contact with them and register them as sensations in your body.
Maybe you will feel some relief, maybe you won’t – either way, it’s fine. But to readily experience whatever your mind and body are giving you is liberating. If you keep pushing difficult thoughts and emotions away from you and making it difficult to feel or think in a certain way, you end up not only feeling the original pain of the challenging feeling or thought, but also a lot of additional pain that – Frustration, anger, guilt, shame, the list goes on.
Also interesting: Are Sleep Restrictions and Standing Up Really Useful Techniques for Curing Insomnia?
As all of this goes on, you are depriving yourself of energy and vitality. On the other hand, if you accept what is going on inside you, you stop creating additional pain through struggle. Remember that your thoughts and feelings are not harmful. It is your attempt to struggle with your inner experience that is at risk, not your thoughts and feelings themselves.