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Insomnia revisited

December 29, 2015

A few years back, I wrote a blog about insomnia and how I “cured” it through the use of supplementation that supposedly corrected any imbalances that I had in my body which were keeping me awake at night. Years later, I realize that this wasn’t true, rather it was my belief that the supplements were working that healed me. How do I know this? I experienced another round of chronic insomnia after my mother passed, and through that experience, I learned a great deal about this awful affliction and what truly causes it.

My experience with insomnia could probably fill an entire book, but I’ll try to keep this as concise as possible. After my mom passed four years ago, my sleep began to suffer for a few days/weeks. A few days and weeks then turned into months. I started to fear night time and what it would potentially bring. In order to “correct” it, I saw numerous doctors, accupunturists, naturopaths, hypnotherapists, and healers. I tried using lavendar, bineural beats, sleep aids, crystals (yes, I got this desperate), meditation, hot baths, warm milk, supplements, sleep restriction therapy, hypnosis CDs, cognitive behavioral therapy, ayurveda…you name it, I tried it! Is it any wonder I couldn’t sleep? It became my obsession, the first thing I thought about at the start of my day, remained with me throughout the day, and of course, worsened as night drew near….

If you’ve ever experienced chronic insomnia, you understand. Night can seem impossibly scary and days are dreadful because of the fatigue and fear of going through the same experience of the previous night. At times you ponder if death could be a better option. It can truly get this awful! I don’t have to explain it to someone who has gone through it. You definitely don’t need reminders, as you have lived it or are currently living it.

One day I stumbled upon a website that contained a book written by a lady who had cured herself from insomnia after a crippling 15 year bout. The book was solid and the advice was on point. However, I did not try any of the advice until about three years later, after I had a long conversation with an angel (I call her my angel as she came out of nowhere and became a great help to me during this time) who had gone through the experience. She gave me the courage and support to finally do it. The steps are easy, but it can take guts to really do adhere to it. And it can take time-this is not an overnight process.

Sleep hygiene is of utmost importance. If you’ve read any book on insomnia, you already know them. Get up at the same time every day (no matter how much you’ve slept), get out of bed when you can’t sleep, sleep in a dark room, do nothing else in bed except sleep or sex, no caffeine before bed…these are just a few. They sound easy but how many of you are actually doing them? I know I sure didn’t. My sleep hygiene was downright terrible. I’ve read that strictly adhering to proper sleep hygiene can solve most people’s sleep issues. I wish I had tried it right off the bat instead of suffering for years on end.

When you go through a very long bout of insomnia, it becomes a different monster. It overtakes your thoughts, and you start to actually identify with being a poor sleeper. The only way to truly break free and cure yourself is to start changing your thoughts surrounding sleep. This is where the true work comes in.

Once you’ve developed a certain mind frame about something, changing it can be difficult. You almost have to “re-wire” your brain. I feel that this is the true cure to insomnia.

If you don’t change your thoughts around your sleep, you most likely will never make a full recovery from insomnia. I can say this very boldly and with conviction because I was one of those people who had the worst attitude, the worst habits, and the worst behaviors around my sleep. I never thought I’d be able to sleep without knocking myself out with a sleep aid (the worst mistake of my life), and when I started some positive affirmations and techniques, I always thought it was BS (subconsciously). This went on for a very, very long time. And of course, my sleep continued to suffer and get worse.

One day I decided to give positive thinking a full shot. I had no other option. If what I was doing wasn’t working, it was time to try something else. I devoted myself to changing some nasty habits. Here are some things I did (or did not do) daily:

1. No matter how poorly I slept, I paid no attention to how tired I was or how crappy I felt. I resolved to have the best day that I possibly could. Even when I was dog dead tired. I kept myself busy and tried to distract myself from thinking about my sleep.

2.  I did not talk to anyone about how poorly I slept. In fact, if someone asked how I slept, I responded that I slept just fine and that I felt great.

3.  I no longer researched how to cure insomnia or booked another appointment with a doctor, hypnotherapist, or any other type of person who I thought could help me sleep through external aids. They had never helped me before, so why would I even spend one more penny on a treatment that I knew deep down would never “cure” me?

4.  I said my affirmations several times daily, no matter how stupid it felt or no matter how much I didn’t believe that they would work. I turned on some happy music, started to get myself into a better mood, and said them as many times as I possibly could. Affirmation are just positive statements of what you’d like to experience said in the present tense. Sounds hokey, but I’m living proof that they do change your thought pattern over a period of time.

5.  I started to live my life-like a “normal” sleeper would. I went out late, ate what I wanted at night, and tried not to overdo it with my daily night-time habits. I stopped taking melatonin, GABA, and anything that I thought would help me sleep.

6.  If I had a horrible night of sleep, I simply used the time to read, relax, or listen to some soothing music or meditations. I did not freak out as I normally would. I didn’t cry or get myself into a huge panic. I didn’t curse the gods for making me go through such a nasty hardship. I didn’t try to force myself to sleep either. I reassured myself that better sleep was on its way, and that it may take some time to heal myself from this issue. And within a day or two (or three), I was always sleeping better.

These changes did take a lot of time to have some effect on me, which was why it was so hard to believe that they were working. But deep down in my heart, I knew they were. I knew the answer to my situation was completely up to me, and that if I stuck to these positive behaviors long enough, they would start having a major effect on my sleep.

And they eventually did. One year later, I’m sleeping again and my thought patterns are completely different. I’m a positive person again. If you’re someone who is obsessed with your sleep and who thinks that the only way to get some rest is by taking a pill, there is a better way! Trust me, there is. If you are currently taking a benzodiazpine to sleep, or another sleep aid, I can help with that as well. Just ask. I’m not a doctor, but rather someone who has lived through it.

Here’s to getting the best sleep of your life.

Jeannette

 

 

 

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