So you cant sleep! Insomnia is a big problem for those who are stressed and depressed. You are not alone!
It's amazing how the inability to sleep causes great amounts of anxiety and frustration. They say sleep is good for you and even helps to reduce stress, but what happens when you struggle with sleeping?
Many find themselves with an ongoing battle of the Zzzz's! They find themselves caught in a repetitious cycle that has been going on for months, if not, years!
My Personal Struggle With Insomnia
I can identify with the stresses that come when you cant sleep. For so many years I struggled with insomnia. Even years prior to my anxiety issues, I had trouble with sleeping. I never understood why it was such a struggle for me. After all, I was genuinely tired.
I spent many nights tossing and turning wondering why I couldn't sleep. I spent countless hours looking at the clock wondering when I was going to fall asleep.
I'd become frustrated and downright angry! At times, I even used my pillow as my punching bag.
I would blame the ticking of the clock, the snoring spouse, and even the light from the moon that was shining through the cracks of my window shades. Sometimes, it was my racing heart that would often have palpitations and stop me from fully relaxing.
It really didn't matter what it was. If it had my full attention, then I thought for sure that it must be the reason for my distress.
I would take frequent trips to the kitchen for that magical glass of milk. After all, we are told that milk is supposed to help us sleep right? More often than not, this was not helpful. If anything, it just gave me a bad taste in my mouth while I laid there in my bed.
Aggravated and upset, I'd begin to wonder how I would accomplish the demands of the next day. A very big part of me had believed that sleeping was absolutely necessary in order to have a productive, stress-free day. Boy was I wrong about that one! If anything, I only sabotaged myself and my successes.
It took me a long time to understand some very important facts, but these facts are what ultimately cured my insomnia.
The problem is, you care too much! Yes indeed, that's right! Caring so much about sleep to the point of making yourself more frustrated and angry when it doesn't happen.
What does your self talk sound like when you cant sleep?
If you pay close attention you will see how your own negative self-talk is sabotaging your own ability to sleep.
Some people naturally fall asleep fast, while others take some time. It's important that you don't compare yourself to other people.
It was this fact alone that helped me the most. I learned not to care so much about whether I slept or not.
I realized that even when I didn't sleep I could still function okay. Perhaps not as well as I would have liked, but it was still acceptable.
I began to change how I talked to myself at night. Instead of beating myself with negative thoughts about not sleeping, I'd repeat some positive thoughts to myself. My new self-talk sounded something like this:
I don't care.
It's okay if I can't sleep.
I've gone without sleep before and I can do it again.
I will still be able to function.
I will sleep when my body is ready.
I will be okay.
I would repeat these things to myself night after night. This repetition is what helped the most. Before long, I found myself falling asleep. Night after night, I'd fall asleep faster and faster. Today I am happy to say that I don't have any problems with sleeping. I totally get it!
Acceptance is a major key factor to overcoming your struggle with insomnia.
Helpful Tips For When You Cant Sleep
Of course, there are other factors that may be effecting your ability to sleep. Below are things you might consider.
1. Consider your Diet. - Follow a good stress diet. Remove all caffeine from your diet. Some people are very sensitive to the effects of this powerful chemical. This includes people who are stressed, anxious, or dealing with panic attacks. Things like coffee, tea, soda, and even cigarettes should be limited, if not, completely avoided.
Limit your sugar intake. Sugar is another stimulant that can keep you up at night. A simple piece of cake is enough to be the cause for why you cant sleep. I know many people who eat a simple bowl of cereal before bed but most of the time that cereal is loaded with sugar...check the box! Be careful and watch what you eat, especially before bed.
2. Exercise Daily - There are many benefits to exercise. Try to exercise for 20-30 minutes each day. Whether it is aerobic or strength exercises, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you burn up those negative stress hormones as well as the excess adrenaline your body produces each day. Give your heart a good workout. Regular exercise can help to regulate your heart and help it to reach a lower resting heart rate when you are finished. Exercise also helps to release physical tension in your muscles which will help you accomplish a more restful sleep. Cant sleep? Then be sure to exercise each day. It matters more than you know.
3. Relaxation Therapy - Before bed, do something that relaxes your physical body. A relaxed body means a relaxed mind. Some ideas would be to take a hot bath, read a relaxing book, or even to work on your personal journal. Don't forget that visualization exercises and progressive muscle relaxation, along with isometric exercises work to promote relaxation too.
4. Avoid alcohol - Some people use nightcaps to help them de-stress and go to sleep. Problem is, alcohol gives a false sense of relaxation. If anything, alcohol promotes insomnia. By the time the effects of alcohol wear off by body, it leaves you a tampered nervous system. This means more stress and anxiety than before. This is one of the reasons why people who drink, wake up often and don't feel rested in the morning. Alcohol induced sleep is not real sleep! Alcohol and depression do not mix, nor does alcohol and anxiety.
5. Consider Sound Therapy - Many people use sound to help them fall asleep easier and faster. Sound therapy can be practiced through using relaxation music and sounds, such as Sleep Solutions (The Calming Collection)
You can also experience sound therapy through using a sound therapy machine. These machines are pretty affordable and they allow you to choose which background sound you find most soothing. White noise is another effective sound when trying to fall asleep. Believe it or not, many people run circulating fans throughout the night, not to keep cool, but because the sound is soothing. Today, there are white noise machines that provide the same sound without the breeze. They really come in handy when you are traveling. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep in a strange hotel with no familiar sounds. I really recommend trying sound therapy. It has always helped me fall asleep and stay asleep.
What about Insomnia Medications?
Many people rely on medications to help them when they cant sleep. Although many people do consult their doctors before using insomnia medications, they can become psychologically addicted to them. Addiction to insomnia medications can only aggravate, and add to, an already existing problem.
It's important to consider a safer, more natural alternative to insomnia medications. Believe it or not, they exist and they can help. They are most helpful when used in conjunction with all of the information given here.
Stress management methods, when practices regularly, will also contribute to your ability to get a good nights rest.
Natural Remedies For Insomnia
These natural remedies can be used daily in dietary supplement form, while herbal remedies can be used in supplements, teas and essential oils.
Additional Resources For When You Can't Sleep!
End Your Sleep Deprivation - Dr. Dement, the father of sleep medicine, and the students of Stanford Sleep and Dreams, share their knowledge so you can sleep healthily and live alertly. Empower yourself by learning about the science of sleep to live life at your highest potential.