What keeps you awake at night?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Judith Schuepfer-Griffin Registered MBACP, BA Hons
11th March, 20130 Comments
Insomnia can be a tricky one. Many of us seem to suffer from it nowadays and there is no one simple cure for it. I think it depends on the person and their circumstances and it’s about finding out what keeps you awake at night.
There can be many reasons for it. Some can be physical, the “night-eating-syndrome” for example. Some people wake up and are so hungry that they have to get up and eat (you can look this up on the Internet). Menopause can be another cause for sleeplessness. At that time of our lives our bodies change constantly and this may affect our sleep patterns. Sometimes the solution is to calm down and learn to live with it in a positive way. You can read for a while (go to the spare room so you don’t disturb your partner) or watch TV for a bit. A good idea is to get up and write down what goes through your mind.
One of the most common sleep-snatchers is anxiety. Unresolved practical problems go round and round in your head; you get tense and can’t drop off. Once these problems are sorted out, sleep usually returns. But there is also another kind of anxiety: its roots are deeper. It can be that you don’t pay attention to your inner life and are totally focused on your outer life, and the Soul tries to get your attention by keeping you awake or waking you up. It literally says: Wake up! Pay attention! What’s needed in this case is more time for yourself, more reflection on how you live your life. We may think that insomnia is the problem but it may just be a symptom for something deeper. You may even think that you are depressed because you can’t sleep, but often the depression has deeper, unrecognised causes, and once these are addressed, sleep returns.
The most important thing is, in my opinion, to stop worrying about sleeping (or not sleeping). I know this is difficult, but try to calm yourself down: it’s not the end of the world (although it may seem like that sometimes). Obsessing about sleeping will make it worse. At the same time: inform yourself. There are many websites where you can find practical tips, and there are also Sleep-Clinics where you might find help. Stay calm and try them out. If they don’t work, get some counselling. I know, this may sound like a contradiction: to calm down and to get help.
In counselling we often don’t tackle a problem head-on because if the problem is a symptom of something else, this would only make it worse. We look at it from all sides, and we look underneath, to see what might be the cause of the symptom. In any case, once the Soul has your attention it may let you sleep again.
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