Consider a Scenario; you are lying wide awake in the middle of the night, tossing and turning while sweet slumber evades you. You find yourself fretting over your to-do list for the next day and all your pending errands, and suddenly you are struck with a panic attack, and all the thoughts of what would happen if you are not well rested the next day, come swarming at you. To make matters worse, you are apprehensive to fall asleep before the 3 am garbage truck disrupts noisily and keeps you up for longer. This is what experts deem as sleep anxiety. Unfortunately, the more you worry about not sleeping, the less you sleep, and the less you sleep the more overwrought your nerves become; the vicious cycle continues. If you dread sleep and have fallen prey to insomnia, here’s how you can cope with your dilemma:
Let Go Of the Props
Such a natural physiological process as sleep shouldn’t be determined by props or nighttime rituals. For some people, alcohol, pills, or perhaps warm baths can become a hard to break habit that they associate with sleep. However, reliance on such rituals can aggravate sleeplessness and fuel sleep anxiety. You should aspire to follow a regular and normal wind down each night to accustom your brain to sleep naturally. To stave off anxiety, try to slowly come off your rituals. In fact, starting with once a week should suffice, while preventing unwanted rebound insomnia.
Stop Struggling With Your Apprehensions
Train your brain to stop imagining how bad things could get the next day if you don’t get enough sleep or dwelling upon how much trouble you have had sleeping in the past nights, as it only serves to promote nighttime wakefulness/arousal episodes. Yoga and Regular mindfulness practices would help you address your worries and trepidations objectively, without harshly judging yourself, and let go of them gradually. When your brain wanders off, something as simple as focusing on the gentle heaving of your chest while you breathe, or feeling the touch of the duvet against your bare skin can ground you in the present moment and allow your brain to snap back to the present. While you can’t stop the barrage of worrisome thoughts that flood your mind, it’s up to you to choose how you address them.
Welcome Your Fears
Nobody likes to be burdened with potent emotional reactions or bothersome thoughts. However, it is often the struggle to overcome or suppress them that exacerbates them further and keeps you up more often. Commitment and acceptance therapy provides a uniquely alternative approach by helping you change your relationship with your fears and worries. Welcoming your unsolicited emotions and thoughts can be as simple as allowing yourself to immerse in them and scrutinize them remotely, like a third person. With an open, analyze each thought and accept it as part of your being. Paradoxically, your willingness to experience them alleviates the power they have over you, allowing sleep to come effortlessly.
If you feel energized and hyperactive after a bout of nocturnal panic attack, you would be better off doing something mundane and menial, such as scrubbing the sink. Picking a chore that is uncomfortable, laborious, and boring would not stimulate your brain, causing it to become lethargic.