All of the bad things that might happen to me due to my poor sleeping. Wikipedia.
All of the bad things that might happen to me due to my poor sleeping. Wikipedia.

I can’t sleep. Pretty often. After the shift to daylight savings, my life becomes a slow torture because I can’t adjust. I sleep less than ever these days.

Mostly, I don’t fall asleep. From time to time, when I’ve very stressed, I wake up very early in the morning and can’t sleep again. Or I wake repeatedly in the night. But mainly I can’t fall asleep.

I have decided I don’t know how. I spent so many years trying to stay awake, watching the door, trying to be prepared for what might happen after the lights went out and the house went quiet that I’m good at keeping myself up.

Other people talk about their minds racing. Or turning worries over and over in their minds. I try to give myself interesting problems to work on while I lay in bed, not sleeping. I used to do math in my head, but nowadays math is a little more stressful. Math problems keep me up. They don’t put me to sleep. The thinking is just to give myself something to do while I go on not sleeping. It isn’t keeping me up.

My body is keeping me up, not my mind. I’ve tried relaxing visualizations. It doesn’t really help. I imagine lying in an island paradise, the birds calling, wind rustling, the distant sound of the sea. It’s gorgeous, but my legs still want to move. They want to stand up. My eyes want to open.

Falling asleep is physiological. Your respiration slows, your heart slows. Everything begins to slow. And then you sleep. I am thinking about island paradises while my heart goes thumping away at the usual pace. Nothing is slowing down. My mind might be relaxed, but my body isn’t.

It reminds me of when I used to meditate many years ago. I stopped doing it because all I did was fall asleep. Usually for hours. Meditation made my heart slow down, my respiration slow. Everything began to slow and I fell asleep.

I’m thinking I’ll look into Zen meditation again. Little did I know—those 25 years ago—that it was exactly what I needed. Just for something other than I wanted to use it for.

If you’re anything like me, your mind can slow down. It can come to a complete standstill. No thoughts at all. But getting the body to unclench and let go of the day’s tension is another matter entirely. Sometimes we need to start with the mind to heal, and sometimes we need to start with the body. Trauma (and other difficulties, I suppose) are not just in the mind or just in the body. They are in both.


5 thoughts on “Insomnia

  1. Cat's Meow March 26, 2013 / 8:14 pm

    Would you consider giving biofeedback a try if the meditation doesn’t work out? Just a thought.

    Something that I and some friends have had some success with in regards to middle of the night waking is the body scan that they talk about in mindfulness. It isn’t intended as a relaxation exercise, but the effect on the body often is one of producing relaxation.

    I am afraid that I use a small dose of Trazadone at bed time, because otherwise I simply cannot get past that point when I start to transition into sleep. I will startle myself awake for hours on end, trying to get to sleep. When I do not get enough sleep, everything starts to unravel for me, so I HAD to find a way to get myself to go to sleep, even though I am not happy to rely on meds. Supposedly, it isn’t habit forming. If I can work my way to where I feel safe enough to fall asleep, then I can come off it. And I have been able to reduce it to a tiny dose during a period when things were calm for me.

    • Ashana M March 26, 2013 / 8:19 pm

      I think I’ve done things like that before. Awareness of my body does nothing to create relaxation for me. It goes on being alert. It needs to know what to do instead. I fell asleep at 7 pm last night by breathing slower. I’m off to see if it works again. I’ve been taking Benadryl to sleep on and off for years, but I get fed up with taking a pill. Thanks for reading and suggesting. I am used to not sleeping, but I’m starting to see a pattern of needing to change how my body actually works. Let’s see if I’m right.

  2. jzrart March 27, 2013 / 6:51 am

    Insomnia is terrible, but I’m doing well right now. The time change always shakes my system up and in spring when we jump ahead it’s at its worst.

  3. Donkey Whisperer Farm March 28, 2013 / 12:53 am

    Praying GOD can help you find a cure to your insomnia as it destroys the human body. I know as I have suffered from it due to pain for many years.

    • Ashana M March 28, 2013 / 3:59 am

      Thanks. I think I have it sorted.

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