The curse of insomnia...

OK, so this is a bit of a different post to my usual ones, so bear with me. Before you start to read, I want to firstly declare – this isn’t an article lecturing you on the importance of sleep. Trust me, I’ve read enough of them. This also isn’t an article to tell you about all the magical ways to aid your sleep. Trust me, I’ve tried enough of them. Herbal tea? Check. Lavender pillow spray? Check. Paul McKenna ‘I can make you sleep’ self-hypnosis CD? Play it every single night, as I lie in bed…awake.

The clock watching...

You see, the most frustrating thing about all these articles highlighting how important sleep is to our bodies, is that they fail to recognise some of us are desperate to do so…. if only it were that easy. They amplify that sense of desperation, which only becomes counter intuitive as we lie awake in angst, watching the clock counting down the hours until its ‘safe’ to wake up again. I do everything I should – no caffeine after 4pm, avoiding heavy dinners, black out blinds, blue light ban in my bedroom. I could pretty much recall the full 28 minutes of Paul McKenna’s "I Can Make You Sleep" hypnosis to you - I might put you to sleep... unfortunately not me.

Sorry Paul, not me

I know what you’re thinking right, how come I can be so active during the day with so little sleep at night? Actually, mornings are fine - it's a funny but common misconception that the worst part of insomnia is the daytime grogginess – that’s minor in comparison that feeling of frustration in the dark hours after midnight.  Checking the clock only amplifies the anguish. Often, it’s a relief when my alarm clock begins to ring at 6am – the signal it’s finally a reasonable hour to begin my day.

Attempting yoga to quieten my mind

Having always had a very can do attitude, the fact sleep isn’t just something you can ‘make’ happen doesn’t settle easy with me. Unlike any other goal or achievement, the more you try motivate and force yourself, the more difficult it becomes. Switching off isn’t an easy option for a lot of us. When I lie next to someone sound asleep in bed, I begin to feel a small amount of envy. Worse yet, people asleep on public transport... I can’t even sleep in a bed, let alone on a busy London tube at 7 am!

How about night-time meditation?

The thing is, we end up making things worse with these continuous value judgments ("I should be asleep"), ongoing comparison to others ("he is asleep, why amn't I?"), and our uncompromising standards for ourselves ("If I don't get six hours' sleep, I'll be a wreck tomorrow"). But these statements, they're nothing more than unhelpful interventions in what is already a frustrating situation. If I had one super power, one thing I could change about myself, it would be the ability to sleep as and when I wish.

Maybe if I stand on my head long enough I'll drift off?

What is my point here, why am I telling you all this? This isn’t a sob story, far from it. But it’s something that I struggle with. And struggles are something we all have.

In social media, our struggles are rarely portrayed. Our Instagram pages are a conglomeration of our ‘best bits’, the highlights of our lives even further manipulated by a glossy filter and a kick ass comment. I’m not going to pretend I don’t have a good life – I do. I have a good job, a great group of friends, an amazingly supportive family – and, most importantly, I’ve always looked on the bright side of things. Because sometimes that’s all you can do. What I’m trying to say is, no matter how perfect someone elses life appears, everyone has their own thing going on… As much as I would like to, I’ve learnt that you can’t control everything that goes on, but what you can control is your reaction to it.

Instagram, that's all it is

So allow yourself those shitty moments, those times when you just want to give up, scream, cry - whatever. Whether you find yourself feeling like this when your pounding it out at the gym, arguing your partner, lying awake at 4am in the morning…. recognise it, accept it, and allow it. But don’t let it bring you down. Because in life, there’s a hundred and one negative things you could focus on, but there’s also always at least one positive going on too… why not focus on that instead? Try it, even if it’s just for a split second, that split second of positivity could soon become a lifetime….

Smile. You earned it.


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