The worst thing about insomnia isn’t the not-sleeping. It’s the having-to-get-up the next day.
If you can’t sleep until 3:00, but have all morning to lie in, chances are, it doesn’t matter.
If you can’t sleep until 3:00 but know your alarm will go off at 6:00, and even if you shut it off, your newborn will likely get you up anyway, chances are, not sleeping is going to stress you out.
And stressing out makes it all that more difficult to fall asleep.
There are lots of lists of ‘how to fall asleep’ out there. I have one from Cosmo that I’ve saved because it actually has some great suggestions: How to Fall Asleep
There are also a lot of lists about how technology keeps us awake or why it’s important to get a good night’s sleep.
The following is a list of keep-you-awake things I never do before bed:
• Read on an iPad
• Drink coffee
• Watch scary movies
• Check my email
The following is a list of keep-you-awake things I’m aware I shouldn’t do before bed, but occasionally do:
• Bring up contentious issues with my spouse
• Check my phone
• Eat chocolate
And yet, even with knowing all the shouldn’t dos, and trying hard to stick to the should-dos, reliably, I will be awake and prowling around the house at 2:00AM. Not all the time, but with enough regularity that it’s become part of my routine.
Usually, anxiety. Sometimes it really is just a scary movie I watched in broad daylight, but mostly, I’m worrying about things WAY out of my control and WAY in the future.
In the grey or in the black—anxiety is just part of my chemical makeup. My brain revs too fast, and imagines every possible catastrophe. To keep up, the logical side tries to plan for every contingency to reduce stress.
The result: an overworked imagination that won’t shut off.
So…? How to handle it?
First, I remember that this is a cycle. Yes, that theme comes up a lot. It’s a cycle, so this part will pass.
Secondly, I try out some of the Cosmo list: (huh, funny enough, this list also begins with ‘make a list’…)
Thirdly, I try meditation, relaxation, reading, etc.
Fourthly, if nothing else works I take medication.
Why? Because insomnia feeds anxiety which feeds OCD which feeds depression and that makes one giant hot mess. Flipping the switch sometimes takes a little help.
And nobody should be afraid to ask for help.