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Insomnia Mistakes - How Not to Solve Your Sleep Problems
A whole bunch of insomnia mistakes that will definitely ruin your chances of a good night's sleep, let alone any chance of recovery.
Mistake 1: Cat napping during the day
An occasional afternoon nap is a beautiful thing, and when you reach a certain age it can be almost mandatory. A nap on the train, or at the motorway services, or in a comfy armchair, is fine for anyone not suffering from insomnia. But the truth is, insomnia sufferers run the risk of misdirecting their bed/sleep connection and as a consequence, making it more and more difficult to feel sleepy at night or at bedtime.
If you have used this in the past in an effort to 'catch up' on your sleep, this maybe why you still have insomnia. Try to give up this little pleasure and focus on sleeping better and for longer at night.
Mistake 2: Lying in at the weekends
You can understand that this option doesn't normally exist all week because somebody else wants a piece of you, and you have to work. So no one could blame you if you've had a bad, sleepless week, that you want to have a lie in at the weekend and maybe catch up on some lost sleep hours. Now please don't confuse a lie in with a love in, which I wholeheartedly endorse everytime. :-)
You may have used this as a catch up option in the past, and heaven knows it feels really good to sleep 'till noon. If the average insomniac doesn't sleep all morning, they may just lie there enjoying the experience of resting. The problem comes on Sunday night when you are preparing to go back to work the next morning. A sleepless Sunday night is common in insomnia and so often this is blamed on stress at work, people who hate their boss, traffic jams, all manner of things. The truth is, you spent so much time in bed at the weekend, sleeping or otherwise, that you're just not tired any longer.
Mistake 3: Having your electric blanket too hot
A hot blanket is just the thing to ease those aching, stiff muscles after a heavy day in the garden; but high temperatures are not conducive to sleep. Just before you sleep, one of the triggers that makes you feel tired is the fact that your body temperature starts to drop. A hot bed, of course, reverses this process so even if you go to bed dead tired, the heat will wake you up temporarily, which may be just enough to switch off your sleep response and leave you wondering what went wrong. By all means take the chill off the sheets but try to make that do.
Mistake 4: Get a prescription for sleeping pills
There are as many horror stories from the use of sleeping pills as there are success stories, but that's not to say that for some people they don't work in the short-term. It's when they no longer work that you need to worry, because you will have built up a tolerance for them and will need to take higher and higher doses to have the same effect.
This invariably means that there is much residual medication in your system when you wake up and this can make you feel drowsy during the day, too. Sleeping pills can be addictive, cause physical or emotional problems and depression, anxiety or even suicidal thoughts have been reported. But they also send a very strong message that there is something wrong with you that you can't sort out yourself, which of course, is not true.
Mistake 5: Spending too long in bed
Yup, that's right. You'd think the more time you spend in bed the more chance you have to fall asleep, right? Wrong! If you think you're developing a sleep problem it's not unusual to have a lie in, or go to bed early, to catch up on missed sleep.
Trouble is, this rarely works and you just spend longer and longer in bed NOT SLEEPING. This tricks the brain into thinking this is dead time and it can do all sorts of things; make lists, plan jobs or shopping trips, read a book, watch TV. Lying awake for hours in bed, because you doggedly stay there trying to sleep, send the wrong message. As a result your sleep becomes intermittent, light and poor quality.
Mistake 6: Staying in bed when you are awake
If you lie in bed awake for hours at a time, you run the risk of trying to hard to fall asleep, and the frustration of failure can make you tense, anxious and angry, cause you to lose hope, maybe take it out on someone else and become desperate. All of which reduce your chances of sleeping, virtually to zero.
It is a mistake to go to bed before you are tired, or even sleepy, as you can't just throw a sleep switch. Using the excuse that it's late won't work, and not only does it become impossible to relax, your mind starts to associate this bad experience with bed, night time and sleep, making the whole idea of going to bed miserable.
Mistake 7: Spending too much time thinking about sleep/insomnia
You get what you think about most of the time. You become what you think about most of the time. This was the philosophy of two of my favourite people; Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar.
They teach us two fundamental truths; you are who you are, and you are what you are, because of what has gone into your mind. The more you identify yourself as an insomniac, the more you make it come true. The more you worry about not sleeping and the more you rationalize why you can't sleep, the more you fulfil your own prophecy.
Mistake 8: Trying very hard to fall asleep
If you're trying real hard you're putting in effort. Getting to sleep is impossible unless you take away the 'try' and do nothing. It is reasonable to assume that putting in effort requires thought, tension of some sort and results ultimately, in failure. It is of some irony that you will hear someone say, 'I had to try really hard to get to sleep last night', without even realizing that when they did finally drop off it was because they gave up trying.
Mistake 9: Worrying about time alseep and time awake
Obsessing about not falling asleep at the right time, or lying there wide awake, or waking too early, will get you nowhere. Counting the hours is so unproductive and a needless worry. Most people with sleep issues believe if they don't get their 8, they are bound to be tired all day long. The truth is very different. All that matters is that you can function effectively. If you are performing well after 4 good hours, that may be a lot better than 8 poor hours.
Mistake 10: Still searching for a miracle cure
The internet's a wonderful thing and there is lots of information out there from honest minded people who want to help you. But as an unregulated source of information some of that information is not so honest and can stop you from moving on, because it is downright wrong, or worse, dangerous to follow.
TV ads/magazine ads and radio ads all advertise the latest tablets, or medicine, or regime, to cure your insomnia. Eventually what this does is make your insomnia worse. Even if something works for a while, the effect wears off and you're back to square one. Worse than that, it reinforces the belief that there is something wrong with you, firstly, worse than just plain old insomnia, and second, that there is something special about your version of insomnia, that you are somehow different. These two beliefs can cause you to take desperate measures (mistake 16).
Mistake 11: Allow your insomnia to take over your life
This is just about the worst thing that can happen. Because you are not your insomnia and your insomnia is not you. Analyze your behaviour and just make a list of how your insomnia is influencing your life. Depending on how long you've had it, your list length may surprise you. Now throw it away. Don't not do it because I just told you to throw it away, it is a valuable learning experience.
It will tell you just how many little annoyances and limiting beliefs and behaviours you'll be able to ditch as your use of the CD kicks in. You'll soon learn that these things have not helped you, but have preserved your insomnia, and are no longer necesary. The stranglehold of insomnia on your life will be lost and you can go on to have deep restful sleep every night for as long as you want.
Mistake 12: Keeping a sleep diary
The more you write down your hours and minutes of successes and failures, the more you reinforce the worry and obsession you may be feeling about your sleep difficulties. It becomes something of a self fulfilling prophesy.
Mistake 13: Ever thinking group therapy may be the answer
Never consider that group therapy will help you. Insomnia is not a 12 steps problem. As far as I can tell, the only thing group therapy does is go round and round the group circle, reinforcing the belief there is nothing I can do about my situation and dreaming up ever more reasons to stay awake. By group therapy I don't just mean a circle of chairs in a chilly village hall, where you introduce yourself thus, 'Hi, I'm Joanne, and I've been an insomniac for 10 years'.
No, I mean the zillion or so support forums and messageboards that proliferate the internet. You don't need to know that member, sleepless239, only had 5 minutes sleep last night, or the latest wonder drug has failed others. However lovely, and passionate, and sympathetic these people are in their postings, they all have the same problem as you. None of them have the solution.
Support forums play a supporting role alright, they support your insomnia, not you. Worse still, they bring you in touch with other people who have worse problems than you do, and as they enter the limelight, you start to empathise and identify with them. You become a partner in failure. Suddenly their problems are your problems and ever so quickly after, your insomnia magnifies proportionately.
Mistake 14: Telling others you have insomnia
Some people carry their insomnia like a badge of honour. All your family know, it's likely your friends know, and probably your work collegues know. That's enough! Forget Facebook, forget smalltalk with friends, forget Twitter and all the other useless ways of spreading your problem around and wasting your time. Keep it to those that know, those that care and your doctor/counsellor.
Talk about your insomnia when it might do you some good to mention it, but bringing it up willy-nilly just reinforces it in your mind, and identifies you with it. Talk about solutions and progress, remember, you are what you think you are, and labelling yourself as an insomniac creates an identity by which everyone knows you.
Mistake 15: Reading, watching TV, playing DVD's or computer games in bed
It's a natural instinct to turn elsewhere to fill your time when you can't sleep. Anything's better than staring at the ceiling. But once you do, your bedroom has just become a lounge, a library, a restaurant, a cinema or an office. Keep your bed for sleeping. This strengthens your bed/sleep association. Anything else you do there will detract from that belief and weaken your ability to associate your bed with a good night's sleep.
Mistake 16: Taking desperate measures
If you've had insomnia for very long, most likely you have a bookshelf full of books promising a cure, a cd library with hypnosis track after track, subliminal messages that you can't even hear, and pills galore with more chemicals than would make a chemist blush. This is when it's time to stop and take stock. More and more ritual is not the answer.
One thing is true; taking desperate measures will not work! It's a bit like trying to balance a marble on a pin head. Theoretically you know it should be possible, because it's only a matter of physics and balance. It's just there are so many outside forces causing the failure. If you could eliminate all those outside forces the marble would stay put. But the effort you put into the task creates those disturbances, ensuring failure.
So take a seemingly impossible task like falling asleep on purpose. Take away all the reasons for not falling asleep, in other words take action, and sleep should happen without even trying. Of course, that's not what happens. The desperation that comes from trying and trying, of obsession, pressure, stress and anxiety, ensures failure, not success.
Mistake 17: Assuming the solution to my problem is OUT THERE somewhere
It is a human failing to look outside of ourselves for a solution to our problems, and if you are talking about food shortages, storm damage, riots, or errant celebrity behaviour, you would be right, that most definitely is, OUT THERE. But insomnia is very much closer to home.
It may have started with a few bad night's sleep, due possibly to one or more of a thousand different reasons, but our thoughts and beliefs change over time based on our new knowledge and understanding of a problem. If the original issue is not, or cannot be solved, this can become an anchor for the insomnia, and we start to look elsewhere for the solution.
This is when insomnia takes on a life of its own, and becomes disassociated with the original cause. We begin to feed our insomnia with new beliefs by attacking it from all directions with new cures, pills and remedies. The answer, however, is in you. Once you realize that you can set aside your fears and misguided beliefs surrounding the insomnia, you will start to heal from it. The words and phrases on the Sleep Soundly Now CD are designed to help you with this discovery, to bring home the solution, to heal from the desperation and to achieve restful, refreshing sleep.
Mistake 18: Not giving yourself the time to effect change
Almost every insomniac has tried countless techniques over many sleepless nights and assumed they don't work. Why? I have to tell you that so often time is the problem. You try them once or twice and conclude they don't work because initially they make you sleep less, not more. Who would continue under those circumstances?
Please let me explain. This has to do with how the mind perceives danger in something new. Yes, the music is relaxing, yes, the voice is relaxing, but I'm wide awake. To me this equals failure! Your mind spends most of its time making sure you are not going to come to any harm. Once the mind decides something is safe, it will set aside any concerns about safety and allow you to benefit fully from your new product, in this case, the Sleep Soundly Now CD experience.
The reason I know this is because my day job is as a complementary therapist and you are welcome to visit my website at
www.thehavenhealingcentre.co.uk. I will regularly see new patients for therapy or new massage clients. The first treatment is like a children's birthday party, chatter, chatter, chatter, 'what's there', 'why does this area hurt?', 'what muscle is that?', 'all the other members of my family need to come and see you too'. On their second visit, they're 'out like a light', relaxed, safe, and their mind knows now this going to help them, so it just lets go.
That's why I ask you to commit to using your Sleep Soundly Now CD for a minimum of 30 days. Most of you will settle into its proper therapeutic use following even your first night after which you will reap the benefits from then on. Just say yes to 30 days and let nature take it's course.