Episode 49



When you’re riding the sleep struggle bus, it can be hard to muster any attitude beyond frustration and exhaustion.  

In this  episode, I explore an alternative approach to insomnia, with an attitude of curiosity.

There are ways to help bad nights from being that bad, or that frequent: an inoculation, a vaccine against insomnia. 

These basic sleep hygiene habits work wonders for maintaining good sleep health and reducing the threat of insomnia. From regular exercise, to avoiding alcohol and caffeine too late in the day, many of these have been heard before, especially throughout the episodes of this podcast. 

Two big antibodies against insomnia from that inoculation are timing and pressure. When you wake at the same time every day, no matter how difficult or easy the night before was, no matter how much or how little sleep you actually achieved, consistent wake up timing cannot be overemphasized. Specifically, regular consistent timing of wake-up. That is your anchor, that is your body’s clock’s time zero, the reset button. A healthy dose of bright light at that time does wonders for your sleep as well, as elaborated in Episode 5. The second major antibody is sleep pressure. This relates to the duration you have been consecutively awake for. It's like the tension of a rubber band - the longer you stretch it, the stronger it wants to snap back in place. 

But despite the vaccine, even if you do find yourself experiencing a rough night of not sleeping like you want, do not fret. In fact, fretting may actually make the problem worse - you wouldn’t fret against your best friend if they were having the same kind of night. Instead, an attitude of friendly curiosity may serve you much betterGet curious - what’s this insomnia thing all about? Where is it felt in the body, and what does that feel like? How is that different than what being intentionally awake feel like, or what being asleep feels like? 

Or take the Victor Frankl method: before this man searched for meaning, he found one method particularly helpful for insomnia, despite how paradoxical it seems. 

Since trying to sleep is getting you nowhere, get curious and run a little experiment - what would happen if rather than trying to sleep, you tried to stay awake? No cheating of course, but when lying down in bed, eyes closed, not pinching yourself to do so - but what would happen if you set your mind instead, on trying to stay awake?

I’m curious to hear from you what happens.


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