Insomnia

The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep. WC Fields

I have been trying to implement new habits into my life over the past two weeks but unfortunately my insomnia is getting in the way. How can I get up at 6.45 in the morning when I only managed to fall asleep at around 4.00 am?

I cannot blame my sleeplessness on my past relationship as I have never been a good sleeper. However, when I was still with him my symptoms became more acute, with a few added extras. I started having chronic hypnic jerks which would prevent me from falling asleep as my body was trying to release the intense stress accumulated during the day. Sometimes I would ask my partner to hold me and cuddle me as it would help me relax and stop the twitching and now and then he would happily do so. Yet, every so often he would refuse and would be annoyed that my body jerks were preventing him from sleeping. I guess it must be irritating to have someone twitch next to you when you are trying to sleep.

At the height of my anxiety, I also starting talking while in the hypnagogic state. I would unburden my mind of all the worries of the day in a long soliloquy. I could hear myself talk as I was in the twilight zone between wakefulness and sleep but I was unable to stop myself.

Now that I am not with him, the jerks and the talking have stopped but the sleeplessness remains. My mother says that it runs in the family and some people say that indeed insomnia might be hereditary. “Scientists say some people’s genes increase their stress-reactivity. And that increased stress response increases the likelihood of poor sleep and developing insomnia.” Gina Roberts-Grey

Over the past year, I have tried many things to cure my insomnia. In the summer last year, my distress at not sleeping escalated to such a point where I went to A&E with suicidal thoughts, because I just wanted to sleep. I was put on Sertralin, a type of antidepressant known as a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) but my sleep did not improve much so I stopped taking it.

Amongst other things I have tried:

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  2. Cutting down on stimulant such as caffeine, nicotine and sugar.
  3. Changing my diet to include less fat and food high in potassium such as bananas and avocados and food high in tryptophan such as chicken, turkey and eggs.
  4. Taking supplements such as calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamin B12.
  5. Taking natural remedies such as melatonin, valerian
  6. Taking medication such as Night Nurse or Nytol tablets.
  7. Implementing a bedtime routine starting with a bath with Epsom Salt and lavender oil, followed by reading a book.
  8. Putting the thermostat down, so my bedroom is nice and cool.
  9. Installing a blue light filter on my laptop and mobile phone.
  10. Listening to a sound of rain video on YouTube with my headphones.
  11. Saying the four Hawaiian Ho’oponopono statements “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “Please forgive me” and “Thank you” over and over again.

Unfortunately, despite all my efforts, I am still not sleeping well and sometimes the only way that I can rest my mind for a while is to drink alcohol before going to bed. Something which I always regret deeply the day after and promise myself that I will never do again but that I end up doing anyway just to fall asleep quickly. So my new experiment in trying to cure my insomnia is to implement new habits such as doing more exercise and having set times to get up.

Tomorrow morning, when my alarm clock rings at 6.45, I will not snooze it or close it. I will get up, go for a walk and do my exercises and maybe after a few days, I will start sleeping like a baby.

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