Yesterday I found an old folder with notes and writing from my twenties....I didn't really look at the pages although I vaguely recognised my handwriting which is quite different to what it is now. I didn't think much of the paper until today when I saw them again when I sat down at my desk to update a recording of a breathing technique that I needed to send a client to help with her get to sleep at night.
I stopped to read what I had written all those years ago.....
'Sleep Eludes Me'
Sleep eludes me
Like a child trying to capture a butterfly
It flirts with me and stays in my thoughts
Right in front of my nose but so far out of reach
Every fibre in my being, every corner of my mind
Screams out in protest for relief from the ceaseless turmoil
But the unconsciousness I crave flits about
Denying me the blankness and nothingness of deep sleep
It rules my life, my actions, my emotions
Governed by the unattainable desire
Directed by the overpowering need
For a release from the never ending cycle of active days and wakeful nights
My thought and emotions now tired seek refuge in vain
I envy those who close their eyes and immediately enter oblivion
This is like dying a very very slow agonising death
Never knowing whether the end is near or aeons away
Prolonged torture which drains you of your life and more importantly....of hope
Hope for an end to this unending vicious cycle
This may sound a bit dramatic but sleep deprivation wreaks havoc with your system and affects every aspect of your life. I was an insomniac for a couple of decades and became used to going an entire night with no sleep. I remember trying everything from warm showers and hot drinks and everything in between (except medication since I wanted to stay away from becoming dependent on pills) but at the time nothing seemed to work for me. Then I discovered a progressive relaxation technique which helped me to settle my monkey mind and calm my nervous system enough to finally have a good nights sleep! The constant stress of sleep deprivation, anxiety, an overactive mind and internal pressure of repressing overwhelming emotions was wreaking havoc not only with my life but my nervous system. It's not surprising that I was able to get to sleep once I finally started to regulate my nervous system and switch on the relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) by turning OFF the stress response (sympathetic nervous system- fight/flight/freeze response) that was caused by all that chronic stress.
Sometimes self directed meditation or mindfulness techniques may be counter productive for people who have experienced past trauma as it can activate traumatic memories or other overwhelming/ unpleasant sensations or emotions. For this reason, some years ago I made a recording for my clients of the 4-7-8 breathing technique which is also known as "relaxing breath". It involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Breathe in through the nose, hold the breath and exhale completely through the mouth. This technique can help with reducing anxiety, helping a person get to sleep, managing cravings and controlling or reducing anger responses. I decided to upgrade the voice recording to a video so I can share it with anyone who has anxiety, is often triggered, struggles with insomnia or an overactive mind or just wants to use it as another way to regulate their nervous system.
Would love to here how you go with it.