WAKING UP TOO EARLY
I was up with the lark this morning, not out of choice! I often find myself waking up in the middle of a night’s sleep now that I’m in my mid-forties. How much it’s got to do with getting older, sometimes sharing a bed with my little one or drinking a cheeky prosecco last night, I don’t know!!???!!
ANXIETY AND SLEEP
Sleep can be tricky with anxiety. When you hit a problem patch it can be highly unsettling. Some of the ways it affected me in the past included:
* not being able to fall asleep easily as my mind was constantly whirring round, catastrophising and thinking about what ifs
* waking up early with a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach about xyz
* abruptly waking up with a panic attack and feeling on red alert not knowing where it had come from
* almost obsessing over how much sleep I’d missed, constant checking of the clock and guesstimating how much sleep I’d get if I fell asleep in the next 10 minutes, half an hour etc
Nowadays, I never experience the last 3 and I only occasionally experience the first - minus the catastrophising and what ifs. One of the best ways to deal with periods of insomnia is to practice self-compassion mixed with meditation and sprinkled with affirmations.
The first means not beating yourself up about not getting enough sleep in your own head. Forgive yourself for it, don’t pile on the blame and don’t tell yourself you’re never going to be able to sleep soundly again. Tell yourself that it’s a temporary experience, that it will pass and as long as you get some sleep you will be ok.
MEDITATION - FINDING THE GAP
The second means learning to find the space between your thoughts. I often used to tell myself to ‘find the space between your thoughts’ when I was lying down in bed and not easily falling asleep. By practicing meditation, you will learn to do this for yourself. The whole purpose of meditation is to lessen the number of thoughts you have and to enter ‘the gap’ ie the space between thoughts, where no judgement, blaming or negativity resides. It does take regular repeated practice to get to this point and the benefits will be vast to your mental wellbeing
The third (affirmations) are often used in CBT and this involves coming up with positive statements to challenge negative thinking. So for example, ‘My body knows how to sleep naturally and effortlessly, I don’t even have to think about it’ or ‘I am a great sleeper, I fall asleep calmly and easily.’ The more you use affirmations, the more they will work for you. This is because you are building and reinforcing new neural pathways in your brain (literally making new connections in your brain) every time you say them aloud or say them in your head. Undoubtedly, this will lead to new beliefs about your capacity for sleep, falling asleep and getting enough rest. I promise you!
Of course if you if you want to supercharge all this and experience a much more rapid shift with alleviating insomnia or anxiety, then hypnotherapy can perfectly fulfil this role.
Here are some useful links:
THE SLEEP COUNCIL'S 30 DAYS TO BETTER SLEEP PLAN