Help! I Can’t Sleep

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2014 Nancy Virden

photo-24774997-businessman-sleeping-on-his-laptopIt’s 2:00 a.m. You were careful to get to bed at a healthy hour, did everything you knew to do to fall asleep, and succeeded! Only now you are wide awake again. How disappointing.

Ruminating and focusing on all those details and what-ifs of the next day, week, month, and year; reliving the past and maybe trying to sort out how to fix what’s been done -these are why at times I cannot return to sleep in the middle of the night. Often I cannot point to what has me concerned. A general sense of anxiety seems to have me restless and tense.

I have learned I cannot stop the unwanted thoughts, and trying to do so makes them more prominent in my mind. Anxiety has to be met head-on. The only answer is to focus on something else.

Anything that requires concentration but is not too engaging will do. For me it is word searches. In order to complete one my mind has to be centered on letters on the page. At the same time, word searches do not become difficult to lay aside like good books and crossword puzzles do. Working on a word search stops the thoughts wheel so I can fall asleep, usually dropping my pen as I doze off.

Anxiety is one of those massive, world-wide issues, like depression, that is not discussed much. We all know we cannot sleep, but do we know why? Sleep hygiene includes darkness, a calming period, going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, a routine, and quiet. Turning off the computer screen, taking a bath, wearing ear plugs –  all may be beneficial to catching Z’s.  It is a change in focus that stops or slows down racing thoughts.

Self-care requires sleep. Being deprived of sleep causes us to make mistakes at work,  waste time, have bad moods, drive like we’ve been drinking, have  a short-temper, and in some cases even hallucinate. It’s worth figuring out what will help us to sleep and stay asleep.

So goodnight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. Sleep well, live well.


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos

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