Do you ever have trouble getting to sleep? Do you get stressed about not being able to sleep? Is the stress that you feel about not being able to sleep keeping you awake? That cycle of thinking can feel overwhelming, never-ending in fact. It’s ironic of course, but the sad truth is irony won’t help you sleep either.
But, take heart, if you do find yourself struggling with sleep then you’re by no means alone. At any given time about 30% of people are having difficulty sleeping. And pretty much everyone will experience periods of sleeplessness at some point in their life. Usually these bouts of reduced sleep correspond to levels of stress. It can be stress from an overactive mind, from a specific emotion activated by conditions in their life, or even from a physical condition.
But in the same way that mental health problems can lead to poor sleep, poor sleep can lead to mental health problems. It is this negative loop which can so quickly spin out of control and which is ultimately responsible for insomnia. You can’t sleep…it causes you to worry…which in turn prevents you from sleeping and so on. And this just underlines the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with the thoughts and feelings that appear in the mind. Perhaps this is the most important thing of all, because although you can’t possibly control all the thoughts and feelings that arise in the mind, you can most definitely be responsible for the way you experience them. So when difficult thoughts arise, do you ‘react’, getting frustrated, worried or downhearted? Or do you ‘respond’ with a sense of ease, awareness and acceptance?
Your familiarity with mindfulness and your ability to step back and observe the thoughts and emotions a little more clearly will be critical in turning a ‘reaction’ in to a ‘response’. And this is exactly what you are training your mind to do when you sit and meditate. So it’s no coincidence that meditation has been found to have such a positive effect on insomnia. In fact in a Stanford study of insomniacs using meditation, 60% didn’t even qualify as insomniacs by the end of the study.
As ever, the proof is in the pudding. There’s only so much that I can tell you about meditation’s effectiveness in cases like this, so I would urge you, if sleep is a problem, toTake10. It’s completely free and just 10 minutes isn’t much compared to the hours that you might spend awake.
Given that we spend almost a third of our lifetime in bed, its no wonder that sleep is such a big issue for most people. But it doesn’t have to be, it really doesn’t.