For the past week or so I have been having a “sleep tight” tisane from T2 when I head to bed and read my book. And for the first time in living memory, I have been sleeping through the night. Some insomnia sufferers have trouble getting to sleep, some have trouble staying asleep – for me it’s always been both.
I can’t even capture in words what it means to have an un-broken sleep.. when you’ve had insomnia for as long as you can remember, you just get to a point where you never feel like you’ll be truly rested again.. you learn to get by.
You become somewhat of an expert at coping, by employing methods like meditation, no caffeine after 10am, cutting down alcohol, sympathetic yoga poses and the like… the elusive restful nights sleep requires a different concoction for every person – just as no two finger prints are the same, the path to restful sleep is unique.
After around 10 days of unbroken sleep, I think my recipe goes a little something like this:
Go to bed at the same time every night, your body responds to routine and ‘winding down’ for sleep will become something your body automatically does, if you train it to do so.
Caffeine & alcohol:
Just don’t. As tempting as it is to pop 5mg of melatonin and knock it back with a glass of red wine to get to sleep – that blissful-ness of dropping off quickly isn’t worth the broken sleep to follow. You’re better to glide into sleep naturally, following your body’s rhythm, then to force the ‘drop’..
Likewise caffeine – do not be tempted to duck out for a triple shot flat white at 3pm to get you through an insanely busy time at work – you’re tired because you have too much work on, and your body is speaking to you. The tiredness is natural, propping yourself up with caffeine to get through is just punishing yourself in the long term.
If you can’t sleep – at least rest your mind. If you can’t rest it alone – find a guided meditation app: iTunes even has free ones…. it takes you away because you shift your intense focus to what they are saying, and you naturally, slowly, easily start to relax… white noise is also particularly good, I often fall asleep to a recording of rain..
If you’re relaxed but not quite ready to drop off… slip into a daydream… I often imagine I’m a character in one of my novels… or imagine that I’m in a beautiful place of solitude, a little haven of my own where I rest, relax, meditate, do yoga etc… I’ve imagined this place so intently I can now slip into it whenever I like… I play the rain track, imagine I’m there listening to the rain… And I slowly, naturally, drift to sleep..
A friend recently sent me a link to a supported yoga pose that really helps with insomnia, yoga in general is just the best friend of sleep and mindfulness. Get it in ya life.
Some stresses you can cut out (like toxic people and environments that are negative for you) and some stresses you can ease but have to work through… wherever you can, try to cut stress out of your life, but also remember you are the master of your life and only YOU can control how you react to life’s trying times. Deep breaths, physically changing your state (ie actually getting up and walking away) and talking about your emotions can go a long way to keeping things in perspective. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
Your body responds to what you put it in and around…. so when it comes to food, be mindful of what you put in and around your mouth! Choose your nutrition with intent, make your food with love, and most of all, enjoy the pleasure of creating and experiencing good food. Juices, fresh vegetables, free-farmed meats, organic wherever possible, taste, flavour. Love your body and it will love you in return.
The biggest thing I’ve had to learn on the journey to restful sleep is to listen to my body… we’re not some machine that experiences the same inputs day in day out… our lives are in a constant state of flux, and the inputs and experiences we have change constantly… but sleep is like oxygen… we need it to live.. and the quality of our sleep effects our quality of life…
Listen to your body, be gentle with yourself. Stretch. Smile. Laugh. Sing. Lift your face to the sun. Dance in the rain. Be present. Dream beautiful dreams.