Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Life | How I Get to Sleep

Getting to sleep seems to be an art when you have a chronic illness. Personally, I have had issues with sleep for over decade. However, I have found an almost foolproof way to get to sleep whenever I got to bed!




I suffered from chronic insomnia as a teen, Work All Night Then Get The 6am Bus Syndrome at college, and no structure, Loud Housemate Syndrome, and Stargate Addiction at uni. My sleep pattern has been all over the place for over a decade, and obviously to address this I've had to develop good sleep hygiene. This post isn't about that, there's loads of information on that out there and I can't add anything to it. It's important though, go research it if you're having trouble sleeping. My sleep hygiene is currently shit to be honest – I work in my bed, I have a new TV in room, which I watch in my bed, my work shifts change from 12am to 6pm starts which has messed up the regular sleep pattern on I worked on for years and, as I'm sure you've guessed, I basically live in my bed. I only allowed this to happen because I have become so confident at going to sleep once it's time to.

I've had loads of counsellors in my time, only one didn't really help me at the time I saw her. I felt really bad about this 'til I tried to use the meditation techniques she taught me when I couldn't get to sleep. After some practice, it worked wonders! She may have tried to teach me meditation for like, daytime me-time and thought awareness or whatever, but employing it when I go to bed means I'm asleep in minutes. I'm not sure how exactly to explain it – I'm sure the internet is full of this, too. But as this is so foolproof for me I thought I'd do my best to pass on the knowledge!


The Sort-Of Technique

What she told me to do was to sit up straight and comfortably with my feet touching the floor, find a spot on a wall in front of me and focus on it. While focusing in this spot, stop my conscious thoughts monologue and just observe the like, background thoughts? Subconscious thoughts? Let them swim around in my head and don't turn them into actual, conscious, concentrated-on thoughts. Does this make any sense? I'm doing my best! Apparently you're meant to identify the helpful and unhelpful thoughts, the lying thoughts and whatnot and banish them or something. I dunno, I sucked.


Applying it to Sleep

What I am great at is lying in bed in the dark, in the quiet fuzz of my earplugs*, closing my eyes but focusing them straight ahead still and shutting up the main strain of conscious thought. That main voice in your head, y'know? Turn it off now and there's other little thoughts hanging around the periphery of your mind. I get visual with this sometimes, especially if there's a song in my head. I have to click the pause button or turn the music down in those cases. Here's a “diagram” to help my terrible explanation:





Basically once I've turned off my main thought lady the background thoughts get bigger and more strange and turn into the kinda dreams that you have when you're drifting off into sleep. That sweet, sweet, moment when you know that sleep is going to happen. Sleep is so good. That moment being made all the more sweet when you have anxiety about whether you'll even sleep at all. YAAAAS.

This does take a lot of practice, probably best when you're not trying to get to sleep as it'll just cause more stress. If it doesn't work – playing Sudoku on your phone in bed might. Or (this sounds daft but has genuinely helped me) Using the Super Sleep Sheep Count App. I guess these work in similar ways by taking up a bit of your concentration while the rest of your brain mushes into dreams or something. Let's ignore the fact that phones in bed is a huge no-no for sleep hygiene...


If this makes any sense and can help one of you I will be so happy! Sleep has been a problem for me for so long so if it can be less of an issue for somebody that'd be rad. Do you have any tricks for getting to sleep? I'd love to know and I'm sure others would!






Earplugs

*These aren't essential. I always sleep with earplugs. I basically trained myself to sleep with them when I had Loud Housemate Syndrome and spent most of my asleep time in the day, to help me get to sleep in the first place and lessen sleep disturbance from noise. This has had good and bad affects on me – I can fall asleep in silence by accident if I'm comfortable but can't sleep very easily if I forget to take earplugs anywhere with inconsistent noise. I would recommend them, though. Lifesavers!

6 comments:

  1. I'm defiantly going to give this a shot, I'm so fed up of having nights where I can't sleep and this seems much better than begging for sleeping pills, so glad you posted this thanks lise xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't your doctor offer you any counselling for it? My chronic insomnia was easily treated by CBT but everything since required addressing my sleep hygiene. I'm sure I needed guidance with that, too. Definitely try and sort that out, easily done without help, too! :) xx

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great article! Good advice. Here is some of my advice to add in http://www.sleeponq.com/sleep-health/

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was such an interesting, useful post Lisa! I've only heard of sleep hygiene last week & wish I had sooner. With coming off my medications, my sleep has been thrown into craziness. It's been unbelievably frustrating, yet I know that this frustration will only make it harder to sleep. I've tried reading a book & found that helpful most of the time, but will definitely be trying your technique. Though as you suggest, I think I'll practice it during the daytime first! Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

    ReplyDelete