Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Insomnia – Getting to Sleep Using Your Mind

THERE are perhaps many ways for those struggling to get their sleep to actually get some kip; some ways work for some, yet not for others. The method I’ve discovered should work for most. It may be a little hard to describe, but I guess if you’re chronically tired you’ll be prepared to invest the time and effort, right? You’ve probably tried so many things!

The Method

Whether it’s a nap or a night’s sleep you’re after:

1. Get into a comfortable position and begin to relax your muscles. There are many ways you can do this. The way that will work best for you is something only you can devise. Try to successfully “loosen” the tighter areas of your body first—perhaps start with your upper back and neck, legs, feet or hands.

2. Breath slower and deeper; take ten seconds for one inhale-exhale cycle, with a decent pause with all the air exhaled from your lungs i.e. inhale-exhale-pause then repeat. Exhaling all the air in our lungs helps to loosen the mind and body.

3. Lighten your mind. Try to mentally shift the focus off any problems and stressors/stresses you might currently have and shift that focus onto only the next very simple thing. But only do this when you’re sufficiently relaxed.

4. Try to imagine with your eyes closed how it feels for your eyes to flip backwards very slowly and gently under your eyelids. This would mean that your eyes are looking up; or at least it feels that way.

5. What you’re doing is not moving the eyes at all—you’re just so relaxed you’re able to “feel” your eyes going to sleep; so relaxed they do what they do with no tension—they fall asleep, and so do you.

6. What we’re doing here is merely replicating those initial moments of Stage 2 sleep (Stage 1 being drowsiness) going into the deeper levels of Stage 3 and so on. Imagine how your eyes feel, in the physical sense, as you start to drift into the unconsciousness of sleep.

7. The mind is used here to focus on relaxation and clarity of purpose (i.e. to fall asleep!) and the next thing we’ll know is we’re off to paradise. Actually, the next thing we’ll know is we’ve slept! Past tense. For some of you that’ll be reward of itself.

Some people take sleeping for granted, but not those with symptoms of insomnia. Of course, those who have persistent problems with poor sleep, particularly if it affects their wellbeing (including their safety due to the risks of fatigue-related injury) are advised to seek medical help.

The key to this advice for me—the real treasure—is in steps four and five. Such a difficult thing to describe in words is actually a very easy thing to do once you know how—it’s therefore worth persisting until it’s mastered. It’s crucial, however, that you’re very relaxed prior to trying these steps.

A bit like fishing, I find being patient is often the key to falling asleep, especially if I’m stressed. We should be more than prepared to invest 15-20 minutes going through the self-disciplined process of relaxation and wind-down before we might eventually fall asleep.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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