Help! I Can’t Sleep

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

photo-24774997-businessman-sleeping-on-his-laptopIt’s 2:00 a.m. You were careful to get to bed at a healthy hour, did everything you knew to do to fall asleep, and succeeded! Only now you are wide awake again. How disappointing.

Ruminating and focusing on all those details and what-ifs of the next day, week, month, and year; reliving the past and maybe trying to sort out how to fix it -these can prevent sleep in the middle of the night.  A general sense of anxiety can keep us restless and tense.

I have learned I cannot stop unwanted thoughts, and trying to do so makes them more prominent in my mind. Anxiety has to be met head-on. The only answer is to focus on something else.

Anything that requires concentration and is not too engaging will do. For me it is word searches. To complete one my mind has to center on letters on the page. At the same time, word searches are not difficult to set aside like good books and crossword puzzles. Working on a word search interrupts racing thoughts so I can fall asleep, usually dropping the pen as I doze off.

We all know we cannot sleep, but do we know why? Sleep hygiene includes darkness, a calming period, going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, and quiet. Turning off the computer screen, taking a bath, wearing ear plugs –  all may be beneficial to catching Z’s. 

Self-care requires sleep. Sleep deprivation causes mistakes at work, wasted time,  bad moods, reckless driving, short-tempers, and in even hallucinations. It’s worth figuring out what will help us to sleep and stay asleep.

If it is racing thoughts and anxiety forcing your eyes open, focus on something else that is mundane yet requires your attention.

Goodnight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. Sleep well, live well.


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos



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