Let’s do a little hand raise here – How many of you have lain awake at night worrying about a situation? It either stops you going to sleep or getting back to sleep if you wake in the night? Though you know there is nothing you can do about it there and then, you still can’t switch off your brain and go to sleep.
I still get occasional nights like this and I think that’s natural, most people would admit to this, it is a rare and lucky few that can sleep untroubled every single night.
There may be a work presentation, an ill relative, financial worries – in fact a myriad of different things can play on your mind and stop that elusive sleep from happening! If you already have difficulties sleeping this can really add to the problem.
I remember back in my insomnia days when I had been appointed manager at a Children’s Centre that I slept badly for months worrying about whether I was good enough for the job. This was crazy – I had gone through an interview process and had already worked for the service, so they knew who I was and what I could do, so they were obviously confident with my abilities. Even the fact that my line manager rarely came to my Centre didn’t reassure me, I just thought of a whole heap of reasons why she was avoiding coming to the Centre – none of which included the thought that it was because I was doing a good job of managing it and that she didn’t need to spend much time supervising me.
It was easier to slip into my pattern of troublesome thoughts and turn into a worry wort. At this stage in my life I would worry about the strangest of things. I was a worse case scenario type of person and would think about the worse thing that could possibly happen and focus on that instead of taking reassurance about how unlikely that would be.
Things changed when a new friend talked to me about how he was always worrying and if he realised that he was not worrying about something would then think of something to worry about! Though his behaviour seemed extreme I realised that I was guilty of a little bit of this behaviour and that this was not a good place to be living my life and began to change my thought patterns.
So what to do if you have troublesome thoughts that are keeping you awake at night?
Try having a notebook by your bed and before you go to sleep each night write down the things that are bothering you and what you will do about them tomorrow. There is something about writing things down that helps take it out of the mind and breaks the thought cycle. If you do start thinking about it again you can gently tell yourself that you have made a note of it and do not need to think further about it.
Colin Epsie (Director University of Glasgow Sleep Centre) suggests that you repeat a word to block the thought patterns in your head. He recommends the word ‘the’ as it is a very neutral word. So when you are in bed with a busy mind, just keep repeating the word ‘the’.
You can also try some EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) I have put up a video on what to do on my Youtube channel here (sorry that the sound is slightly out f sync).
Good luck on breaking the thought cycle!
There are links on her website www.charlottewelply.com to free guided mediations and pamphlets to help you and your children sleep, as well as information on upcoming courses. You can also follow her on facebook https://www.facebook.com/charlottewelply and twitter @CharlotteWelply for tips, news and information about the world of sleep.