A couple of weeks ago, I was in the middle of a discussion at our studio when a lady walked in, and my colleague tended to her. Before she left, she quickly approached me to introduce herself.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out she reads our blog and had found solace in some of the articles we've written. It was this post that she felt connected to; She too is a sufferer of chronic Insomnia and had found no help with the usual suggestions of drinking milk before bed, using essential oils among others.
As a former chronic Insomniac myself, I knew too well what was causing it. She'd denied it at first, but later burst into tears and managed to say the words "Bull's Eye" before quickly leaving apologetically.
To G, if you're reading this, I want you to know that you're not alone. I know you have to put up with appearances to look like you're fine, but deep inside, Insomnia is messing up with your life.
For six years, I was wrecked by Insomnia, barely functioning during the day yet I had to pretend to be on the ball during work (when in reality I was feeling so exhausted, all I wanted to do was hide underneath my work desk to take a nap - which out of desperation, I tried, but still I couldn't fall asleep).
My sleep pattern was like this: No sleep (not even a wink) for 72 hours straight and then 5 hours of sleep after that. And the pattern would repeat for the next six years. I've tried:
-sleeping pills (made me feel like a zombie)
-melatonin pills (never worked)
-lavender pillow mist (never worked)
-flower remedy (gave me 1 hour sleeps for a few days, then stopped working)
-homeopathy (I was made to take petroleum! didn't work)
-warm milk (nope, didn't work)
-meditation (worked maybe once or twice to give me 10 minute sleeps, then stopped working)
-remove gadgets from the room...you name it, I've read and tried them all.
A lot of advisory sites and health advocates would generalise Insomnia as being 'stress-related'. But really, stress is such a big subject and it's triggered by everything and anything! How do we even begin?
Since I was always awake no matter how hard I tried to sleep, I would sometimes be with my own thoughts. That's when I noticed how much chatter there was going on inside my head. At any one second, there were at least five trails of thoughts going on at the same time. They were making non-stop connections from one thought to the other. And most of the time, the thoughts were negative.
These negative thoughts ranged from career stability, to family, to the world's issues, to my health, to finances, to self esteem, to co-workers, to relationships, etc. The list doesn't end.
One of the recurring themes I've noticed here is: Worry. Most, if not all of them were worries.
I decided to slowly cut out the sources of worries. I stopped consuming the news (too much negativity there), and I know this next point is going to get uncomfortable for some, but I started cutting out 'friends' who were always discussing about themselves and offloading their own problems (I've noticed how the offloading of their problems became my own source of problems).
(disclaimer: true friends would not create a feeling of imbalance this way, you will be able to discern whether or not a friend is simply using you as an offload outlet - so this is something you'd need to identify for yourself)
Sometimes, when we take a step back and take bird's eye view, we can see it clearly. We can't see anything when we're in the thick of it, do you agree? With that, I also decided to seek the help of a life coach - someone who could consult me from a different perspective. That was six years ago, and I haven't had trouble sleeping since.
It would bring me so much joy to help bring some comfort to insomniacs out there with what has worked for me. (disclaimer: this may or may not work for you)
For starters, I want to tell you I totally understand how you feel. I want you to begin by zooming out to observe those thoughts coming into your mind at night. You can consider writing them down and making a list.
I will be back with next steps. Watch this space!