One simple point about sleep difficulties, which we personalize as “Insomnia”: Consider it as a signal, a message, something that deserves your attention. If you are not falling asleep or staying asleep (and we know sleep is a vital function), then your body is telling you something. (Note: As a physician, my first concern is whether some significant medical condition is present, such as sleep apnea or heart disease- a medical evaluation may be needed). But what is the message?
Insomnia, like pain, is not just a thing to be gotten rid of, although that is a common reflex response. Let’s be curious and go a little deeper. Give your body credit for having something to say. Why does my mind seem to become more active just when I am deciding to go to bed at 11 pm? Why does the dog start pulling at the leash just when I have decided to return home? Is my attention being directed at some important unfinished business? Is my memory being nudged regarding possible sickness of my child? Am I being reminded that tonight I am designated to guard the perimeter of my sleep community, while the other tribe members rest closer to the campfire? Is there a bill to be paid or a meal to be prepared?
I want to listen to the messages conveyed by delayed sleep onset or early awakening. I don’t enjoy fighting an evil thing called Sleeplessness or Insomnia. Before I cancel the message with a sleeping pill, I may want to indulge my curiosity and peek around the edge of conscious awareness.