Coping with insomnia
"The LORD gives to His beloved in sleep" (Ps 127:2).
We need to cooperate with the gift of rest.
Cast your cares upon the LORD.
"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest."
These are the guidelines I'm following which have given me some relief:
- - I can't force myself to sleep. I can only let sleep overtake me.
- - I can't fall asleep and at the same time be conscious that I am asleep.
- Allowing consciousness to dissolve is what the art of falling asleep is all about.
- - I try to go to bed at the same time each night.
- - I have installed f.lux on my computer to dim the screen at night and brighten it during the day.
- - I turn off the computer and TV well before bed time.
- - I lower the lights while ending the day and getting ready for bed.
- This allows melatonin to do its job.
- - I sleep in total darkness.
- I can't darken my room sufficiently, so I use a sleep mask instead.
- - If I wake up and need to move around, I keep the lights as dim as possible.
- - I do not turn on the computer or TV in the middle of the night.
- - I keep a tape recorder or note pad near my bed so that I can keep track of things that are bothering me. I believe that if I pay sufficient attention to the feelings that trouble me, then they will become less troublesome. Feelings are energy for action. I can't act and rest at the same time, so I have to let go of the feelings.
- - I make an agreement with myself that I don't have to stay in bed if I don't want to, so long as any activity I undertake while trying to become sleepy allows me to become sleepy--praying a rosary or a chaplet, reading, writing notes to myself, sitting in my recliner with blankets and pillows in case I want to sleep there, etc.
- - If I decide to stay in bed, I console myself with the thought that I am resting even if I am not asleep. It is amazing how often this restfulness becomes real sleep without my being aware of it.
- - I will usually pray some simple chaplet (Divine Mercy, St. Philip's Chaplet) or the Jesus Prayer in the middle of the night to keep anxieties at bay. I "say" the words mentally, not out loud, and I don't resist falling asleep in the middle of the prayer.
- - I have a goal for how long I want to spend sleeping or resting. If I get close enough to the goal, I don't quibble about another hour or half-hour of sleep.