I have always been able to switch off my bedside light and fall asleep within minutes. Even on my travels, often sleeping in youth hostels sharing rooms, it wasnt an issue for me. Ever.
When my son turned one a year ago, it changed. For his 1st year I slept well in between multiple night waking and breastfeeding sessions. Now he was starting to sleep better and all of a sudden this mommy couldnt fall asleep anymore…shock horror!
When you suffer from insomnia, you either struggle to fall asleep or you wake up and then struggle to fall back to sleep again.
It’s one of those things that can quickly consume you as you start struggling night after night and experiencing the repercussions of not so much optimal functioning during the day. You start almost dreading going to bed even though you are tired. The “Tired but Wired” saying became quite real to me…
It’s a vicious cycle… Insomnia creates anxiety and this creates more insomnia. I experienced over the past year that if I have a better night, the anxiety almost immediately starts to decrease dramatically helping me to go into the better direction of sleep again.
So what can you do – the standard advice that you’ll get…
- Sleep hygiene
- Herbal aids
- Sleeping tablets
- Antidepressants (more to treat the anxiety)
These are the things that has worked for me to a certain extent recently and over the past year:
- You absolutely have to do the sleep hygiene thing i.e. NO screen time for at least an hour before bed time and keep lights fairly dimmed in the house if you can. I also started to have a bed time routine – for me this was drinking either camomile tea / hot water with apple cider vinegar and a bit of honey / milk with quarter teaspoons of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. And also reading a book until I feel I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.
- Consider cutting your caffeine. I decreased it to one – two cups of coffee max all before 11am.
- Be careful of sugar as this can worsen anxiety symptoms and for me any form of sugar and even cocoa (dark chocolate) I found could increase my alertness and keep me awake.
- Alcohol – yes it helps to relax you – but I am not sure what it is – but I found this also didn’t help my sleep, so bye-bye drinks for now! (Insomnia is so tormenting that you will do ANYTHING to alleviate it).
- Melatonin didn’t work for me unfortunately, the herbal stuff also not, I wish it did as it’s not habit-forming.
- An anti-anxiety tablet and/or a sleeping tablet helped me at certain times to calm down at night and just re-set and get a night of good sleep – but it’s not for long-term use…
- Watch your mind… I found that the more I panicked when I couldn’t fall asleep the worse it all became. I started meditating on Bible Scriptures about sleep, anxiety and fear which helped me a lot. I also pray as part of my bed time routine. And I watch out like a hawk for those evil thoughts that try to make me go into panic and fear mode. I replace it with TRUE thoughts – Renewing my mind with God’s TRUTH.
- I have had to almost become quite relaxed about the whole thing – knowing through the grace of God that I WILL be ok the next day even if I didn’t sleep. I had to make a point of tapping into the peace, joy and gratitude inside of me despite my lack of sleep and not feeling great the next day. Worshipping Him throughout became my Spiritual Weapon of choice.
This thing has become a lifestyle, spiritual and emotional journey for me. Not something with a quick fix (believe me I tried all of that, spent a couple of R1000’s on doctors who couldnt really help although I am sure they wish they could.)
I really hope this helps someone out there…
Love Helene x x x