So here we are – left one on one with insomnia. Fear, desperation, and loneliness become our constant partners, and all we want is to get back the way it was before insomnia. That desire is completely natural and normal. But what if this desire is the only thing that keeps us in the struggle?
We are afraid to let go of control because we think that if we aren’t controlling the situation something terrible can happen.
But how did you sleep before insomnia? Did you do something special for sleep to come? Or was it something that just happened in the complete absence of thinking about it?
I believe that our bodies always know how to sleep and even during insomnia that ability stays with us – unbroken, unharmed. The only thing that stands in the way is the desire to not be awake at night, almost like an obsession.
Unfortunately, because the nature of sleep is beyond our control and we can’t produce sleep voluntarily, there is nothing external that can fix sleep. There is nothing to fix because nothing is broken!
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But the struggle we go through is completely valid and the pain is real. Not many people realize that the reason why that struggle is so intense is in our relationship with sleep and wakefulness.
As long as we keep thinking that not sleeping is something bad – we will keep feeling anxious and unsafe during the night. But the moment that perception is shifted – the whole problem falls apart.
No longer do we feel pressure when going to sleep because we are okay with any outcome. Paradoxically, that’s when sleepiness comes back, and sleep resumes. Everything that’s been accompanying us during insomnia stops having power over us until it completely fades away – anxious sleep thoughts, heart palpitations, hypervigilance, fear… they are no longer there. Because the only reason they existed was the belief that sleeplessness is bad or dangerous.
Think about how you can turn wakefulness from the enemy to a friend, or at least something neutral? Can you look at it not as the time of suffering but the time of self-care, pleasure, and comfort?
Embracing wakefulness and changing the relationship with it is about working with what we’ve got. If sleep isn’t coming, how can we spend that time in a meaningful way? How can we take advantage of it? How can we show the brain that you are safe even if you are awake?
These are the most important questions on the insomnia recovery journey, and we need to get back to them day after day until the state of acceptance becomes our natural state. That’s when sleep comes back and not vice versa.
If you wish to receive individual support on your recovery journey, consider 1-1 online mentorship meet-ups.