So, you had trouble falling asleep. Again.
Or, you woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.
Why does this happen and what to do about it?
The following is excepted from “Up at 4 A.M.?” by Amy Spencer, in the magazine, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Jan-Feb 2015 (an oldie, and hopefully a goodie).
If we’re not sure how something will play out, our primitive mind prepares us for the worst possible outcome.
Back in our cave days, our ancestors needed to be prepared to fight or flee to survive.
The primitive part of the brain—the amygdala—thinks our idle ruminations are urgent matters that need to be dealt with right away, as if they are real emergencies.
And there we are, wide awake, ready and alert, to battle the catastrophe that we have imagined.
What To Do
Take some deep, relaxing breaths.
Get out of bed, walk around a little, look out a window, read something light.
Write down what is bothering you, or make a to-do list. Get it out and onto paper.
Take a mental vacation. Visualize a relaxing place, recreate a fun memory, take a trip down Happy Memory Lane.
Soothe and Calm
Listen to soothing and calming music, white noise, or a sleep app.
If sleep continues to elude you, seek professional help to rule out medical conditions to get to the cause of your sleeplessness
And, of course . . . .
ACTIVITIES TO CALM MIND AND BODY
Qi Gong To Calm the Mind by Lee Holden
The mind’s natural tendency is to ruminate on thoughts that produce stress or anxiety.
Qi Gong provides powerful tools for calming the mind and returning to peace.
Why is it that humans tend to think about things that cause stress and anxiety? Why can’t we naturally gravitate toward thoughts that bring us to a place of joy?
Back when humans faced life-threatening situations on a regular basis, it was helpful to have a mind that could quickly identify unwelcome circumstances. The mind evolved to constantly look for signs of danger and plan for the worst.
The Mind Can’t Tell the Difference by Brad Yates
In spite of all the encouragement to live in the present or focus on the future, most of us are likely to still spend a fair amount of time reviewing the past. And, more often than not, the moments we dwell on are not necessarily the highlights.
It’s normal … but it isn’t without cost. Because the mind can’t tell the difference between something that is real and something that is imagined, just thinking about past troubles triggers the same chemical reactions and the same uncomfortable feelings.
How to Write About Difficult Topics
And so, we lose sleep over troubling events and difficult people. We can’t change people and we can’t change what has already happened. We can only change our own thinking. We can write about them to “give them air,” and release these thoughts onto paper (or computer monitor).
But how to write about these difficulties without adding trauma?
Perhaps one of these writing prompts will help: