I hate sleeping. I thought it was a waste of time. But the real reason was, I was scared. I was afraid about the feelings of not being able to stop thinking. I felt stressed from sleeping. Thousands of vivid images appeared in front of me when I closed my eyes – Images of fears and worries. I hated those feelings. They were full of sadness, anxiety, sorrow and anger. My insomnia caused my unstable mood and loss of concentration. It affected my work progress and life directly. Worse, I was clueless in dealing with this situation. I tried many different ways in dealing with insomnia. For example, working and exercising my body to a tiring state, reading books before sleeping, applying essential oil, having a cup of warm milk, having warm lighting, etc. Fortunately, I was stubborn enough not to use medication or addiction to help me in the journey.
My parents told me to just be in bed early and avoid thinking too much. But I failed to do so. Until one day, I decided to confront the root cause: my depression. My battle with insomnia and depression began. Here’s what helped me deal with my insomnia.
Know the root cause by being mindful of what happened
We could take the right action to cure our insomnia by knowing the root causes. The root causes are very varied and could be very tiny events. The way to find out these causes is to be aware of our emotions and what’s happening to our physical bodies.
Here are the questions to ask ourselves:
- Do I see any visible changes in our body such as dried lips, cold limbs?
- Do I feel pain in the neck and spine?
- Do I feel any obvious pain on or in our bodies?
- Am I disturbed by many emotions every time I sleep?
I always had back pain and irregular menstruation when I had insomnia. I went for a bone adjustment and took Chinese medicine to have a physical treatment. The treatment soothed my body, yet the outcome was not satisfactory. The truth is the pain in our body reflects the inner state of our body and mind. Whenever I want to sleep, I feel a choking sensation around my chest and throat. I had tons of negative emotions. The causes of these symptoms are my depression and my anxiety that developed from stress. It took a long time to heal myself from depression. Yet, I could ease my anxiety quickly now with meditation.
Meditation aims to relax our bodies and mind. We will only enter into the first stage of sleep (drowsy) easily with a relaxed body and mind.
I could not relax my body and mind for a long time even when I was at home. I had lots of anxieties. I was surprised when I could fall asleep easily when volunteering with a sea turtle conservation project, living and sleeping on an unmanned beach with a harsh condition. I observed the key was because I was able to relax my body and mind while living on the beach. When returning to the hustling city, meditation helps me to achieve the effect I experienced on the beach. Calling me to feel my body, my breathing, let all the worries and anxieties go away. Then, to feel the lightweight of my body and my mind. Finally, to sleep with a relaxed body and mind.
End the day with gratitude
Practising gratitude is a method for me to end my day with positive energy, and thus I could bring these positive emotions to my sleep. It is a way for me to overcome my trauma by sleeping. I started this practice when I came across the concept of “recapitulation”. It is a concept of highlighting the positive points of a day. Basically, to lean on the positive. I ask myself, what is the one thing that I feel grateful for myself? And why? Then, I ask myself what is the one thing that I have done well. I write them down or reflect on them before I sleep.
Put distractions away
Our distractions mainly come from our mobile phones. It is the main evil source of our disturbed mind. I always feel that I have undone matters while using my phone before sleeping. I have been training myself not to touch my phone at least 30 minutes before I sleep. It’s still a challenge for me since I listen to audiobooks and guided meditation to help my insomnia. Here’s what I do. I set the timer for the audiobook or guided meditation that I want to listen to and place my mobile phone at a designated place far from my bed. This trains my brain to stay away from the desire to use the phone.
Find the right temperature for your body
Having the right temperature to sleep is important. Not only the ambient temperature but also our body temperature. The best ambient temperature for sleeping is near 18.3 degrees Celsius. Previously, I compromised my sleep quality to the guilt of releasing CO2. Today, I switched on my air-conditioner for a few hours before I went to sleep to make sure the ventilation in my room is smooth. Another tip here is to have a warm foot bath. A foot bath helps blood circulation, relaxes our muscles, and hence relaxes our whole body. It makes me fall asleep more easily.
It took me a long time to soothe my insomnia through various tests. Yet, after facing the root cause head-on and doing the strategies I’ve shared, my condition improved. My body clock went back to normal. My back pain went away, and my period returned to normal. I now have better focus and can think clearly. Most importantly, I could start my day positively! Now, even though there are still days with insomnia, I have better communication with my body and mind. My relationship with my body and mind has improved throughout the process of dealing with my insomnia.
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