Help for insomnia caused by stress, anxiety, worry or pain
Begin your insomnia treatment with your getting ready for bed activities.
Create the hour before bedtime as a time for winding-down. Avoid listening to the news. You need to end the day with relaxing thoughts.
A recommended before-bed activity: Remind yourself of what is good in your life. In your mind, or in a journal make a list of everything you are grateful for. Do this every night. It is helpful to have a gratitude journal or notebook next to your bed for this purpose.
Once you are settled in bed, continue using your mind to focus on calming thoughts.
Begin by imagining a box. In this box place all your worries and concerns. You can retrieve them in the morning. Place the box where you want to store it for the night. You may want to keep it in your bedroom where it is easily accessible. Or you may prefer to keep it in a hall closet so it won't distract you while you sleep.
Your breath is the key to relaxing so you can fall asleep easily.
Focus your attention on your breath. Notice your breathing. Notice the feel of your breath as you inhale. Notice the feel of your breath as you exhale.
Do not try to control your breathing. Just feel the air moving in and out and notice where you feel it. You may feel air moving in and out through your nostrils. Or you may be aware of the air filling your chest or your diaphragm or your stomach. Whatever you notice is completely acceptable.
There is no right or wrong way to do this exercise.
Continue to focus your attention on your breathing until you fall asleep.
Watching your breath serves two important purposes.
If you read no farther, you now have the information you need to release tensions and relax and fall asleep easily.
Focusing on your breathing is very relaxing. When nervous, many people hold their breath or breathe shallowly. This habit creates additional tension. By observing your breath, you release the effort to control it. When you stop controlling your breath, your body takes over and your breathing naturally becomes deeper and fuller and more relaxed.
Your attention is on your breath. This activity occupies your mind and there is no room for worrisome thoughts.
Continue reading for suggested variations and additional information for treating insomnia.
If there is a part of your body that is in pain:
- As you breathe in, imagine you are inhaling peace and calmness. As you breathe out, imagine you are exhaling all the tensions of the day.
Focus on your breathing for several minutes. Then go through your body beginning with your head. Notice each body part in turn and notice if there is any tension. Gently ask the tension to release.
For example, notice the muscles of your face and then ask these muscles to relax. Notice if there is tension in your neck, in your shoulders. If you observe tension, ask the muscles to release the tension. Continue through your body asking each part to relax.
If you are still awake, return focus to your breath. Continue observing your breath until you fall asleep.
As you breathe, focus your attention on your heart and say to yourself one of the following phrases:
As you say the words, feel your heart opening. See your heart opening. When I say one of these affirmations and visualize it happening, I feel comforted and healed. This is a wonderful way to go to sleep. Continue watching your breath . Repeat the affirmation you selected until you fall asleep.
I allow my heart to open.
I open my heart to the beauty of the day.
I open my heart to God's love.
I open my heart to myself.
More about breathing:
Inhale into your heart. Exhale from your heart into the part that is in pain.
(Optional: as you inhale into your heart, repeat one of the affirmations listed in the paragraph above)
Begin by watching your breath as described above. Wait until you feel your breath moving easily through your body. Imagine that with each inhalation air is traveling to every part of you. It's as if the air is absorbed not just through your nose, but also through every pore of your skin.
When you exhale it is released through every pore. Now hold that vision in the background while you focus your attention on the part of your body that hurts. With each inhalation be very aware of oxygen filling and surrounding the part in pain. With each exhalation oxygen, toxins and pain are released.
Watching your breath is used by many as a meditation practice. It can be done at times other than bedtime.
Watching your breath does not put you to sleep. It relieves tension at bedtime so that you can go to sleep.
You can do this exercise as a breathing meditation practice at other times of the day. If you do this practice regularly it will help you to be more relaxed in all aspects of your life.
The effect of this meditation is paradoxical. If I am tired during the day, I can take a ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation break and feel alert and energized. If I am having trouble falling asleep at night because I am anxious, watching my breath allows me to relax so I can fall asleep. The results of this exercise depend on my intention when I do it.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, you may benefit from a relaxation tape. Let the voice on the tape place relaxing thoughts in your mind. The goal is to replace thoughts of stress and worry and fear with thoughts of comfort and peace.
Click here to order a relaxation tape or CD to use at bedtime.
Use a relaxation tape or CD at bedtime. During the day practice relaxing your mind with a Meditation tape. The breathing meditation tape is a tool. When beginners start to practice meditation they have trouble staying focused. They intend to focus on their breathing but their mind keeps straying to other thoughts. The meditation tape has regular reminders to stay focused on your breath. This is very helpful for beginners.
Click here to order a guided meditation tape or CD.