OMG its 4am, you get back into bed after a quick trip to the bathroom and the night sweats kick in â€“ your mind wakes up. This is the third time this week, what has caused it this time? Is it the proposal you’ve been working on, the investment property issue, the kids’ school work, the school trips or s fees, or how you are going to pay this month’s mortgage or rent? Money matters, success issues, promotion opportunities or simply, anxiety over what is going to happen tomorrow?
How do you deal with it? How can you switch off the noise in your head when all you want and need to do is roll over and go back to sleep? It can in many instances be put down to a combination of anxiety and insomnia. Personally I don’t call this insomnia, although I know that if you look up the symptoms of insomnia, the night sweats is an associated symptom. For me it is caused by pressure, stress and a busy lifestyle â€“ not all of it is negative but it is just the environment and fast pace of life today. By contrast, anxiety is described as the culmination of several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying – which at 4am need to switched off.
What do I do when it happens to me? To be honest, I am not always successful, but here are some of things I do or have read about â€“ I hope they help you when you need them.
- Mathematical calculations â€“ doing monotonous analysis in your head. When we were preparing to move overseas many years ago there was a long list of issues to deal with, one of which was foreign currency calculations to the point of hedging to the dollar and cent. This worked a treat – I can see your eyes closing as I type….
- Breathing techniques â€“ I have tried different types of yoga. Ashtanga yoga focuses on the breathing and self meditation
- Old Faithful â€“ counting sheep, thinking happy thoughts and the like
- Focus on one object, repeatedly so that you almost hypnotise yourself with your concentration. I have in the past used hypnosis and was taught by an NLP master to help my daughter get to sleep when she was having problems. The same thing has worked brilliantly on me – concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you feel
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting at your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head. The goal here is relaxation not sleep, sleep can only come when you are relaxed
- Read a book â€“ just for a while, something non work related or overly stimulating
- Briefly write whatever is on your mind down on a notepad and then roll over
- How dark is your room? Could black out blinds or thicker curtains help?
- How bright is your clock? Does it make any really soft electrical buzzing noises? If so, change it. More importantly, don’t even look at it during the night â€“ turn it away from you â€“ looking at the time will remind you of how little sleep you have had and have left
- When did you last change your mattress or bed? Simply turning the mattress over could make all the difference.
- Get up â€“ sometimes you really can’t get through it, in which case there is no harm in getting up and doing something, It could be doing a bit of work, drinking a cup of hot milk or watching a few minutes of TV â€“ It can’t become a habit though, that is the only caveat here.
This is designed to share ideas and best practice with you and for your information studies estimate that about one-third of the adult population in the world experiences some insomnia each year so we are not alone. Please feel free to come back to me with your ideas and suggestions that have worked for you, I don’t suffer from this very often but when I do it is sooooo annoying, especially when it always seems to be followed by an incredibly busy day or week.