Insomnia: all alone with a pitiless pillow

Every so often, a person will go through a phase of insomnia. Some are lucky enough to be great sleepers. Others have the misfortune of finding it hard to either go to sleep or they wake early and toss and turn, cursing the little sleep fairies that refuse to whisk them back to their blissful land of slumber.

When I was 15, I experienced a torturous month of insomnia. I got so wound up about it that I was scared of going to bed because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. The trick is not to worry about it and recognise that this too will pass. It makes sense that the more you stress about it, the more tense you are going to bed, so the harder it is to doze off.

Here are some tips for surviving insomnia:

1. Relax

What does it really matter if you can’t sleep right now? Be thankful that you have a comfortable bed and a roof over your head. Nestle into the cosiest position and listen to the weather outside. There’s nothing like the sound of the wind and rain at the window to make you grateful for your duvet.

2. Listen to relaxing music or an audio book

At least then you’re not concentrating on the lack of shut-eye you’re getting. Soothing music or the sound of a calm reading voice should send you off to sleep.

3. Soak your feet in lukewarm water

Ideally add some oils or Epsom salts, sit back and relax for an hour. This will take heat out of your body and allow your mind to unwind. A bath would also have the same effect. Add bubbles, candles and relaxing music. Sure why not?!

4. Exercise

This is best done in daylight hours in the fresh air but if that’s not possible, any physical activity (yes that too, ya dirty feckers!) will suffice. You’ll have worn yourself out in a good way and this will aid your sleep. Yoga before the leaba is also wonderful for taking time to stretch the body and switch it into chill out mode.

5. Natural remedies

For me, a homeopathic remedy works a treat for sleeplessness. The Lifeflow Centre offers a range of remedies, which can be ordered online. Acupuncture, reflexology, massage and acupressure also help. There’s an acupuncture point behind your ears, which is great for insomnia and calming the spirit, so rub there when you’re unable to sleep.

6. Have a cup of hot milk

Treat the tired child within you like yer granny would. Heat up some milk in a saucepan and melt in a spoon of honey. Wrap yourself in the softest blanket or dressing gown you can find and enjoy.

7. Get up!

If you simply cannot sleep, get up and do something constructive. Perhaps you’re lying there, thinking about what you’re going to do when you arise. If the matters are too pressing, just be done with them. Sometimes, recognising that you’re just excited or stressed about a particular issue is enough. This period will pass soon so it’s nothing to worry about.

For me, it’s new year’s eve today and I’m off to Kilkee for a fun-filled weekend. I’ve also just started this blog and I’m loving it so I’ve been writing in my head since 6am. By 7am, I decided to cut my losses, toss back the blankets and get typing before the road trip. I know why I wasn’t sleeping and that I will be able to sleep again so I’m not stressing about it. And I’ve got a new post out of it!

8. Do something to relax the mind

Don’t hit the sheets straight after work/studying/a fight/a nerve-racking situation. Watch one of your favourite programmes, take a bath, do some yoga, listen to your iPod, soak those feet, paint your nails, make a bowl of sweet rice… Whatever it takes to soothe your soul before slipping into slumber.

9. Stop thinking!

Easier said than done but if you keep going over things in that self-destructive brain of yours, you’ll never fall asleep! Realise that you’ve all the hours in the day to mull over these things and that bedtime is a period of relaxation and renewal. Say it aloud if you must: “I’ll think about this tomorrow.” The great thing is, by tomorrow, you’ll have had such a good sleep that the niggling issues will seem a lot easier and you may not even need to give them much thought after all.

10. Make the most of your time in bed

If you can’t sleep, you can at least use the time to listen to a meditation on CD. Or do one yourself. Imagine you’re somewhere perfectly beautiful, like on a beach with the sun warming your torso. Or by a river, in the mountains, in a forest. Listen to every sound, see every colour, feel every breath of air and ray of sunshine. Alternatively, tense then unclench every single part of your body. These are wonderful exercises and should leave you feeling totally at ease.

If you’re finding it difficult to snooze, just don’t make a big deal out of it. What you resist, persists. Let go and surrender to slumber.

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One response to “Insomnia: all alone with a pitiless pillow

  1. i get insomnia loads! Stupid over active brain!

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