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14 Sep
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Insomnia And How To Beat It

Sleep is probably the only thing we do each day that really matters. But many people fail to get the quality of sleep they need.

Sleep appears to be a quite natural process that we have no control over – largely because we are unconscious when we do it. But, we can actually do quite a lot to improve the quality and quantity of our sleep without having to resort to medication.

A survey by the National Sleep Foundation showed that 35% of the people surveyed had sleep problems.

The problems fell into four categories:

  1. Difficulty falling asleep
  2. Frequent waking during the night.
  3. Waking up too early and staying awake.
  4. Waking without feeling any sense of refreshment.

I think all of those things happen to all of us at some time, but there comes a point when they are happening frequently, or worse still, nightly, and that’s when you have a problem. The problem is twofold. First of all you no longer look forward to bedtime because you know what’s going to happen. Secondly you are not energized by your night’s rest and so fatigue sets in early along with problems concentrating and staying focused. Enthusiasm is difficult to find, temper gets short and relationships suffer.

The interesting thing is that poor sleeping patterns can usually be fixed quite easily and without resorting to medication.

Anxiety is one of the major causes of sleep disruption, and that’s quite understandable if it is just an occasional disturbance. But when the anxiety is a background state that is always present then it is time to take action.

Anxiety falls into two main categories:

  1. Anxiety about things you have no control over
  2. Anxiety over things you have control over.

If you can do something then take action. If you can’t do anything then recognise that you are powerless, it is in the lap of the Gods, and make peace with it.

I know that simplifies things a little too much, so here is another angle.

Anxiety is all about thoughts that wander through your mind. The thoughts will be thoughts that cause your emotional energy to drop into the territories of anger, fear, or grief. Anxiety is either a fantasy about what might happen, or a regret about what has happened. Neither of those is going on in the present.

The problem is rarely what has happened, or might happen, it is your thoughts about that. The thoughts are the problem. It is the thoughts that disturb your sleep, prevent you from dropping off, and wake you early.

So attend to the thoughts.

Now you may think that you are powerless to impact your thoughts. After all, you only know about them once they appear and once they appear it is a little late to do anything about them.

At least that is what your thoughts would have you believe.

Worrying is a choice and an addiction.

You can control it, but not directly. You have to sort of sneak up on it through the back door.

Here are three simple things you can do to begin to take back control of your mind.


Just before bedtime, run yourself a nice warm bath. If you like bubbles and candles and soft music, do that too. Get in, then just lie there soaking in the warmth and allow your mind to drift to somewhere pleasant. Plan a dream holiday to a place you’d love to visit; fantasise about a new toy you’d like to possess; start to write your novel in your mind by developing the story line and characters; let your mind run free to explore anything at all that you find fascinating. If at any time you realise you are back on your favourite worry subject, then just let that go and return to your imaginary world. After about half an hour of this, get out and go straight to bed.

Turn off TV:

An hour before bedtime turn off the TV. Instead listen to some relaxing music, something drifting and dreamy if you have it, definitely not something that makes you want to get up and dance. Read a really good book that takes you away and engrosses you, or read something really boring.


Fit some vigorous physical activity into your evening routine. Join a gym, go for a fast walk, buy yourself a rowing machine. It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is or where you do it but get physical. The exercise generates endorphins which make you feel good. When you feel good it is much harder to get hold of negative thoughts.

There are also some don’ts.

Go to bed to go to sleep. So don’t read in bed. Don’t watch TV in bed. Don’t listen to the radio, or anything else, in bed. And most important of all, don’t nap during the day or evening.

If anxiety is disturbing your sleep then just doing these simple things will improve your sleep quality, and quantity.


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