Lately, I’ve noticed several people complaining about insomnia. Defined as inability to sleep or habitual sleeplessness, insomnia is a common disorder that effects nearly all of us at one time or another. Read on my friends, your insomnia is about to disappear, go away, vanish and all because, you dear reader, are about to learn my secret, and absolutely free of charge.
The causes of insomnia are vast: pain, worry, indigestion, depression, and on and on, but that is not the focus here. Our aim is get back to sleep, no matter what the problem in fifteen minutes or less. Now that is not say that you can drop off to dreamland if you just had your leg shot off by a 12 gauge shotgun in a drug deal gone bad. No, we’re talking common, ordinary, everyday circumstances that can keep you awake: Did I lock the car? Did I just hear the cat toss another hairball? Do I really want to quit my job? And just when the hell is my wedding anniversary anyway? Yesterday?
As with most cures, there is that chance that the following will not work for everyone, but have a little faith here. Believe! Your life is about to change.
Two a.m. Eyes open. You flop left, you flop right, you stretch, you yawn, you go to the bathroom, you cover up and assume the fetal position. Hello, night. Dawn and the buzzing of the hated alarm clock is only hours away. Read? Watch TV? No. Must sleep. Must get rest. Doesn’t happen. You’re wide awake and the Sandman is plumb out of sand.
Is that you? Okay, here we go. Pay attention. First, assume your most common and comfortable sleeping position, side, back, whatever. Next, we need to check in with our body parts, one at a time. Feet? How you feeling today (wiggles toes)? Right over left, vise versa, toes in the air? Ahh, that feels okay. No problem with feet. Moving on up. We can take calves, knees, and thighs in one step. Granted, you might have a little arthritis in the knees, but you’ve dealt with that before bedtime, right? Your pills of choice that you took before bedtime? Forget about it.
Moving quickly past the genital area (no good can come by lingering here) and check out the tummy. Any nagging unpleasantness from a lump in the mattress or a fold in the sheet? No? Good. Chest is next. Roll the shoulders a little here. Feel the pressure of your back or chest against the bed. Testing. Testing. Still comfy? All right. Head, neck, pillow adjusted per usual. We’re good.
Now we come to the heart of the solution. It’s usually not a physical problem, it’s the thoughts in your head, right? Your mind is racing about ninety miles an hour and getting nowhere. It goes roaring off in one direction, does a U, and comes right back to the starting line to head off in a new direction. Or it does a replay of the previous thought to see if there’s a different outcome this time. The anxiety mounts. You check the clock again. You close your eyes and in mere seconds, your thoughts are in full scale revolt, rioting in fact, running helter-skelter over past regrets and fretting about the future.
Take a deep breath. No seriously, take a deep, literal, breath, a couple in fact. This is the first step, to regulating your breathing, to begin to think about your breathing and nothing more. I’ll repeat that, think about your breathing and nothing more. Remember when the brain did the body survey, checking in with the parts, and connecting mind to muscle, bone, and tendon? Now we’re connecting the mind to the air we are taking in, that life-giving combo of oxygen and hydrogen with a little cat dander thrown in for flavor.
Let me say right up front, this works best with nose breathers. Mouth breathers can benefit as well, but with the disadvantage of the inevitable dry tongue and the fear of inhaling the occasional floating car hair, so nasal breathing is the way to go. You not only get a better filtering action (think cat hair) , but the smaller diameter of the nasal passages creates pressure in the lungs during exhalation, allowing the lungs to have more time to extract oxygen from them
We’re going to take air through our nose now, and as we do so, I want you to feel, actually feel, the air passing through the nostrils. Feel it pass the nose hair, flow by your deviated septum, through the nasal cavity, and eventually enter the lungs. Exhale. Slowly. Repeat. Feel the chest rise and fall. Feel the rhythm of the cycle. Uh oh, stop it! Stop that thinking about the chili dog you had earlier or whatever silly thoughts were previously roaming free in the cranium. Be-gone. Banished.
At this point, it’s okay to admit that thinking about your nose hairs has its limitations. Your mind will begin to drift again. Fight it as long as you can. All I’m asking is to focus, to concentrate on the sensation of the passage of air, in and out, feeling it. The goal here is to calm the mind. Eventually, natural random thoughts will begin to creep back in the picture. This is inevitable. The difference being, your body is now relaxed and comfortable, your mind isn’t racing anymore, and…what was that? Did your head just nod? It did. You are about ready to fall asleep my friend. My own experience with this technique gets me back to the Land of Nod in usually fifteen minutes or less, and I have been known to lay awake for three, four hours straight..
If you’re still having problems, try concentrating on the inside of your eyelids. Sounds silly, but if there is any light in the bedroom, you can probably see patterns, moving patches of light and dark. Watch for a while. Fascinating stuff really. Now breathe, breathe. Good night.
For further help, you can call BR-549 or drop your donation in the mail to Warren’s Worldwide Ministries and I’ll pray for you.