Advice for Insomniacs

Between climate change and the world wide economic crisis it’s no wonder insomnia is common.  Add to worry the extremes of stimulation provided by technology, food, drinks and drugs and it’s surprising anyone sleeps well!

While it may seem we face an unprecedented array of potential catastrophes, the world has always been a dangerous place.  Previous generations tossed and turned worrying about nuclear war, Viking raids, or the black plague.  As Dickens wrote: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Diet can trouble sleep.  Don’t eat big meals less than three hours bed. Alcohol metabolizes as sugar so a night cap can give you an energy burst that wakes you up.  Time honored home remedies like a glass of warm milk can contribute to the problem instead of solving it since candida, a yeast overgrowth exasperated by dairy products, causes insomnia.

Libido is another underrated cause.  Restless Legs Syndrome often results from suppressed sexual energy.  The human body needs orgasms.  This healthy release is as essential to good health as all the other less controversial physical functions.

Conscience can be the enemy of sleep not only when cruelty haunts the cruel, mistakes are made, or responsibilities shirked, but also when the wrong responsibilities weigh on us.  We all have missions in life.  To live a life that doesn’t allow us to explore our missions is a recipe for insomnia.  We all need to dream, and not just in our sleep.

Creativity could be the culprit.  Writers, painters, programmers and musicians are particularly susceptible to the lure of the uninterrupted quiet of late night when work and inspiration famously flow.  If you can’t sleep anyway consider spending an hour being creative or at least do something, or someone, you love.  If creativity sounds daunting, then nourish yourself with ideas.  A book can be not only soothing but enlightening.

I’ve collected a few techniques I’ve found more helpful than pills, herbal remedies, since I avoid commercial and pharmaceutical sleep aids.  No attempt to force your body to sleep by taking pills will work permanently, and addictions are often the result.

In one of the Jane Roberts books Seth gives a helpful hint.  If you can’t sleep but you’re otherwise comfortable don’t try to force yourself to sleep.  That never works.  Fretting over how much less time you have to recharge, trying not to look at the clock, looking at the clock, guarantees sleeplessness.  Seth suggested telling yourself that your are enjoying loafing luxuriously.  Even if you’re not sleeping you can rest and relax.

For some instructing your muscles to relax one by one from each toe to the tip of your head can become neurotic, but for others sleep often comes before the exercise is completed.  If you’re still awake try listening to your body, literally have a dialogue in your imagination with any areas troubling you.  Another perhaps less mentally strenuous way to get your muscles to relax is a hot bath with lavender bath salts.

Since you’re awake anyway what about unleashing your imagination?  Think about anything you want.  Preferably not details of tomorrow’s tasks!  Instead explore the amazing powers of creation provided by your own thoughts and visualizations.

Perhaps what you’re working on in your sleepless night is spiritual contact.  After all, faith or at least a sense of trust about the natural course of things, is your greatest ally when trying to sleep.  Spiritual contact can be as simple as remembering some lovely moment of your life, your favorite person’s smile, a beautiful natural scene, some accomplishment you enjoyed.  Dwell on the good feelings. Relaxed appreciation heightens your senses, quiets your thoughts and allows for spiritual nourishment.

Turn your insomnia into an opportunity with one of the most ancient wisdom practices, the Pythagorean reflection.  Go over your day starting with what you did just before bed and work your way back to the first thing you did when you woke up.  Could you have done anything differently?  Could you have reacted in more constructive ways to challenges?  Could you have made better use of opportunities?  While the first few nights of this practice might not help you sleep continued experience with it produces a more peaceful life.

There’s wisdom in insomnia. Don’t treat it as an enemy to be driven out of your world.  Treat it as a messenger.  Listen to what your body, your mind, your conscience, your libido, your creativity, are trying to tell you.

When you do sleep, and you dream, write down what you experienced in your dreams.  Don’t worry about the interpretation of your dreams, just write down all the stories your unconscious is telling.  Next time you can’t sleep look over your dream journal.  Not only can this lull you into drowsy reverie but you might also find some helpful insights about what really matters in your life.