Here’s what happened to me when I was dealing with insomnia years ago.
Now, I should start by saying that saying that insomnia was rare for me as a child. I struggled to sleep well as a kid, but I didn’t have severe insomnia
. I didn’t feel like I never got a good night’s sleep in months like I did years ago.
Because 2015, the year I dealt with insomnia the most, was different, and it taught me something about myself.
Now, what I’m about to share is not a cure-all. It’s not going to guarantee that you get back to good sleeping habits as soon as you implement the mindset shift. If you’re dealing with months of insomnia and depression like I was, please, please, seek help from a medical professional.
But if you can’t sleep–and I could not sleep- this change in mindset can work wonders for you.
Going from Can’t Sleep to Will Sleep
The one thing that I did when I wasn’t sleeping well all those years ago was worry about how much I wasn’t sleeping.
I focused on the problem and expected to find an answer in it. It was a critical mistake I didn’t realized I was making.
What I mean exactly is that is that, during the year or two of troubled sleep that turned into insomnia, I may have been sleeping better than I thought. I made such a big deal of not sleeping, and how I would never sleep, that I never checked to see if I was sleeping at all.
I was too.
About a year or so after my insomnia, I started to regularly use a Fitbit to track my sleep. And what I found during the nights that I claimed I didn’t sleep well at all is that I actually slept more than I thought.
I didn’t get ONE measly hour. Maybe I got three or four. That’s what my Fitbit told me even thought I was sure I was awake for almost all of the night.
It doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but mentally it was a huge one for me. Learning that I actually slept better than I realized triggered the start of a mindset change. I went from doubting myself and my ability to sleep to trusting that I actually could sleep more than I thought I could.
I started to wonder how much my mental state was affecting my ability to get restful sleep each night.
And I realized how worrying about something in my life to point of rumination never resolved the issue. I eventually had to learn to meditate to learn to let go. This skillset coupled with mindset change turned the tides of my rocky, restless nights.
And I had an epiphany: worrying about my lack of sleep was contributing to my lack of sleep. Rather than just accepting that I got a lousy night or two of sleep, the thoughts consumed me.
To use a somewhat adjusted but still worn-out phrase, I made a sleep mountain out of a molehill.
Now What I Do When I Can’t Sleep
Now I’m typing my story and sharing it with you.
I never would have done this years ago. I never would have had the awareness to get out of bed in the first place.
This change in behavior was sparked by my decision to read what I could about sleep hygiene. It was spurred by my effort to learn about sleep from an objective point of view–not an extremely frantic subjective one.
When I wasn’t sleeping, all I could do was obsess over the saga of my lack of sleep.
Now I know that there will be some sleepless nights. It’s just reality.
Hopefully they are few and far between like they have been for years, but, still, I know that they will occasionally arrive like the lurking, creeping clouds that they are.
But I don’t get caught up in the saga. I don’t beat myself up for it. I know that I’m human, I know I have anxiety that runs through my genes, and I know that a human mind can only handle so much during a pandemic sweeping the world.
People close to me in my family and at work have been getting COVID tests because of symptoms and exposure to others.
But what doesn’t need to be scary at this point in my life is lack of sleep. Yes, it’s a critical factor for establishing solid mental health, but it’s not the only one.
Acceptance is still a huge part of the story. I’ve only ever made big breakthroughs with tough emotions and difficult situations by accepting what is right in front of me. And so it is with sleep.
It took me years and years and lots of hard lessons to get to this point. But now I’m here. And I’m writing my story.
If one person reads this and has the breakthrough in mindset that I had, it will all be worth it.
Take sleep seriously.
But not so seriously that you lose sleep over it.