Insomnia is quite common in our society. While there many different reasons for sleep problems – such as poor diet, too much sugar and refined carbohydrates, too much caffeine, or lack of exercise – I want to share two major causes and the solutions to these.
Ironically, one of the major causes is medication. Medications for sleep, as well as for anxiety and depression, often have severe and sometimes subtle side effects. One of my clients, Ella, was prescribed Xanax for sleep. Most of the time she slept well, but occasionally she would have problems falling asleep and sometimes she would wake up way too early and not be able to get back to sleep. The doctor told her that she could take a very small dose of Xanax that would not cause her any harm.
After a few years of using the small dose of Xanax a couple of times a week, Ella found that she was having more and more trouble sleeping. In addition, she suddenly developed a new symptom: she would wake up early with internal shaking that she found very disturbing. Medical tests came up with nothing.
She was becoming more and more exhausted and finding herself using the Xanax more and more to sleep and to get back to sleep. Finally, after doing some research on the Internet on “Internal trembling” she was shocked to discover that her lack of sleep and her inner shaking were side effects of Xanax!
Ella decided to go off the medication. To her great surprise, she went through an intense detox, with fairly extreme pain in her muscles, weakness, sleeplessness, and intense internal trembling. Finally, after about three weeks, she reported to me that, not only had all pain, weakness, and trembling and stopped, but she was finally sleeping well most of the time! The medication, prescribed to help her sleep problem, was actually causing it.
However, the original reason she sought the medication was because when she was stressed, she would ruminate and worry, which is what was keeping her awake. She needed to learn to deal with this without using medication.
Ella learned two tools that greatly helped her move beyond her obsessive thinking and worry.
One was EFT – the Emotional Freedom Technique. Through this simple technique of tapping on certain acupuncture points, she was able to release some of the anxiety that sometimes kept her awake. Anyone can learn this technique by going to the website http://www.emofree.com.
The second thing that Ella did was learn to change her thinking from worry about what she doesn’t have and about all the bad things that can go wrong, to gratitude for what she does have and visioning what she wants.
Ella discovered that opening to gratitude, more than anything else, made her feel relaxed and wonderful.
“When I get in bed at night, the first thing I do is thank God for my warm comfortable bed. Then I think about all the good things that happened today and thank God for them. Then I think about all the things the excite me that I want to move toward in my life, and I feel my deep gratitude for them. By this time, I’m very peaceful and relaxed and already mostly asleep.
“When I wake up now I have trained my mind to again remember gratitude – for a good night sleep, for my health, for the beautiful day, for my life, for my family and friends, for my house, my job, my ability to play the piano, and for anything else that pops into my mind. This just takes a few minutes, but by the time I get out of bed, I’m smiling and really looking forward to the day. I rarely have any sleep problems anymore!”