Well in my opinion the main cause of insomnia that keeps us tossing and turning at night is worrying about not going to sleep.
Sure there might be other reasons for sleeplessness; chronic pain, restless legs syndrome, partner disturbance, too much coffee....
But at the end of the day you're lying there worrying about how you're going to get through the next day if you don't get to sleep *right now!*
Worry and the stress it causes, are by far the main causes of sleeplessness, and the sad part is, the more we worry, the more wide awake we feel. But what can we do about it?
We have to empty our conscious minds of worrying and stressful thoughts (yeah right! Easier said than done!)
Stress and worry can affect your sleep quite dramatically. It can be an isolated stressful incident which keeps you awake for a few nights, or the stress and worry may be chronic. Once they becomes a habit, certain situations will then always cause you to become stressed.
Worry in particular can become a habit and like any habit, is very difficult to break (just ask us smokers, um... ex smokers out there!) But it can be done. You have to train your mind to either let go of a thought, or replace one thought with another.
If you suffer from insomnia, whether you're having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, stress could be the cause. Your sleeping problems can then cause more stress which in turn makes it even harder to sleep. How can you stop worrying and stop this vicious cycle?
The most important thing is to try and work out what you are telling yourself when you are worrying about something. We talk to ourselves all the time whether we are aware of it or not. What thoughts are going through your mind that are causing your bad feelings?
For example, you may be sitting in a traffic jam thinking, "I'm going to be late for work if this stupid traffic doesn't start moving soon. Then I'll be rushing around all day trying to get everything done! Which means I probably won't have time to buy a proper lunch and I'll have to grab something quick and greasy! Well there goes the diet ........"
Enough! Why torture yourself with this rubbish? Make it a habit to stop these thoughts as soon as they start. How? Just substitute them with better thoughts! Have a list of thoughts that make you feel good and think about them instead! This will reduce stress significantly and with practice, it will get easier and easier.
If you're having trouble doing this, try doing in in two steps. When you catch yourself worrying, say "STOP!" Picture a big red stop sign right in front of you. Concentrate on this until it breaks you train of worrying thoughts.
Then you can start thinking your pleasant thoughts, a movie you enjoyed, a present from your children, whatever makes you happy!
Your mind is extremely powerful - put it to work for you and not against you!
Stress and worry are the main causes of insomnia apart from physical discomfort. De-stressing our minds and bodies are the best ways to be able to sleep peacefully again.
By Wendy Owen HH Dip
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