That’s the question I hear all the time “why can’t I sleep?”. Well there’s many possible reasons why.
In my experience there are 4 probable reasons for insomnia.
The first reason is an inability to switch off from the events of the day.
The second is that it is a bad habit that became conditioned with repetition.
The third is that it could be chemical.
The fourth is due to not being physically tired.
Number 1. What’s on your mind, are you still thinking about work or are you mulling about the problems in your life? Are you stewing about work, things people said or deadlines that need to be met? Are there problems in your home or private life that when you close your eyes they just pop into your mind? If so that will cause you insomnia. Unresolved thoughts or negative future predictions will keep you awake at night as they send adrenaline through your body because your body is responding to your thoughts. If this is the case then you need to learn Thought Retraining. You can read about it by clicking the link HERE.
Number 2. If you are sure that there is nothing going on inside of your mind that is affecting your sleep patterns then it might be simply a bad habit. Most likely though is that you have some form of underlying stress. If you go to bed one night and don’t sleep very well you may then be wary of it happening again the next night. If the on the next night the same thing happens you could begin to get anxious and tense as the effects of lack of sleep start to show.
The more this cycle happens in this way the mind and body can begin to lock the thought of sleep into a feeling of tension. The more this cycle is repeated the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where the mind starts to condition it in to a negative habit. Instead of thinking about sleep as a nice time to relax and recharge your batteries, the insomniac thinks “why can’t I sleep?” and views it as the start of the battle, so that adrenalin is released into the body to get ready for it. Do not try to beat insomnia, as it will beat you. If you make it a battle, it will win.
To combat this I use Hypnotherapy to relax the mind and also Thought Retraining with my clients. A personal CD recording of their relaxation session is given to the client to reinforce the suggestions from the Hypnotic session. Blocking the bothersome thoughts is usually enough to start to change the negative habit of insomnia. A detailed plan for Thought Retraining can be found in chapter 2 of my Simple Strategies book as well as other valuable advice to combat insomnia. Also the Thought Retraining technique is outlined in my Mental Health Masterclass DVD.
Number 3. I also mentioned that insomnia could be chemical. Insomnia can also be a symptom of Calcium deficiency so it would also be a good idea to take home some good quality high strength calcium formula. Studies show that a lack of calcium in the diet can cause insomnia so why not give it a try. The worst-case scenario is that it won’t cure your sleep problems but you will end up with stronger bones!
Number 4. One of the things I have come across is the relationship between exercise and sleep. Many people have jobs that tire them mentally but not physically. I have found that in order to sleep well you have to be physically tired as well as mentally. People who work in offices for example feel tired at the end of the day but their bodies have not received much or any true exercise. As their job is mental rather than physical they suffer mental exhaustion which often manifests itself in fatigue but that is very different to a physically demanding job.
The office worker often comes home reliving the events of the day and plans for the next day but is unable to switch off. Depending on how they view their job their minds are still firing away even though they have finished work. When they try to go to sleep their mind is thinking about work and if they do get to sleep they wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work! The more you “try to sleep” the more alert you become as your body then releases adrenaline into the system. That actually perks you up. If you do fall asleep (after watching the clock worrying that its getting closer to waking up for work) you wake up very tired and you brain seems foggy.
So what’s the solution?
Exercise. The problem is that the person is not physically tired and they are indeed suffering from a form of stress. Exercise resolves this negative pattern in 2 ways. The first way is that if done correctly it will create the physical demand that will tire your body and your muscles that will make it require natural sleep. Secondly it will create endorphins that will eliminate a lot of that stress you built up from your war with sleep.
Now I know theres a lot of you who say that you are busy at work, walking up stairs and “always on the go” but to be frank with you that just won’t cut it. If it did you wouldn’t have your sleep problems would you? No, lets get real with what you have to do. You have to do high intensity training 3 to 4 times a week for over half an hour, maybe more. You might have to do it for 45 minutes 4 to 5 times a week. Sounds daunting? Well that’s not as bad as not sleeping!
For the best results I recommend weight training, circuit training or boxercise. These 3 types of training done correctly are quick and will tire your body out preparing you for sleep. The secondary gain is that you will look great too!
When you don’t sleep it affects your personality. It affects how you see the world. It affects how you are at work, and how well you work. It affects your personal relationships and makes you grumpy. So doing some exercise might seem like hard work but that’s the reality of your situation. The alternative is a nightmare. The sooner you get your head around it the sooner you will conquer your problem! Do the exercise thing as I’ve instructed for 2 weeks and if you’re not sleeping better then you must be a vampire!
If you struggle to get motivated or you need the bad habit of sleeping reprogrammed out of your mind I can help you with that. You can read about my insomnia program HERE.
Hope this helps and if you need any more assistance you know where to find me!