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I was an insomniac for over 10 years. Even when I was sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping well.
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According to the National Institutes of Health,
“30 percent of the general population complains of sleep disruption, and approximately 10 percent have associated symptoms of daytime functional impairment consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia.”
With over 327 million people in America alone, these numbers are staggering. You may not have severe symptoms as I did, but interrupted sleep, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and restlessness throughout the night have a huge effect on your immune system.
I tried everything I could think of to help me fall asleep:
– reading the dictionary
– warm baths before bed
Nothing seemed to work. In college, my roommates would rub lavender oil on my feet, take me on midnight drives, and do everything they could think of that might help.
All the chamomile tea in the world couldn’t stop my brain from feeling like it had too many browser tabs open. It was as though as soon as the sun went down, every possible worry and anxiety that had built up during the day decided to shout at me all at once.
I had learned how to meditate as a teenager, but had abandoned the practice when I went to college. But now, I began listening to my body and learned to treat it like a friend instead of an enemy.
My sister, a yoga instructor, walked me through guided meditations when I had difficulty with anxiety and panic attacks. She taught me how powerful the mind is, and how even in the most difficult moments, we can choose not to let our thoughts overpower us.
To help relieve insomnia, you can meditate anytime during the day. However, you may find it most beneficial to practice at night before you go to bed.
Be sure that all electronics are off – TV,
smart phones, tablets – for at least an hour before bed.
(If you aren’t willing to part with your smartphone, begin to
weenyourself off. Use apps such as Moment or Quality Time.)
Electronics emit short-wave, blue light that stimulates the brain. Apps such as Twilight that gradually turn your screen a red tint, filtering the amount of blue light that you’re exposed to once the sun goes down.
Being exposed to blue light after it has begun to get dark blocks your body’s melatonin production, as well as interrupting circadian rhythms. This can be especially harmful in children.
Once you’re ready for bed, make yourself comfortable. You can meditate sitting or laying down, whichever is most comfortable for you. Turn the lights down, make sure you are comfortable and warm, and if you need, play a guided meditation or listen to soft music.
Rest, and be well.