Due to my anxiety, constant restlessness and endless memories crashing (involuntarily) through my mind, falling to sleep at night has always been a challenge for me. As a young child I was given various suggestions for making me sleep better. The first was imagining to count sheep. Though by doing that I would end up counting to one thousand and something, then the next thing I’d know was that it was 4am and I hadn’t had a second of sleep.
Meditation didn’t help either, because the more I would concentrate on calming my mind, the more I would recognise my subconscious fear of not sleeping. In fact it was (and still is) very frightening for me to see the sun come up after a night of zero sleep. Due to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder the concept just seems completely wrong to me. This fear goes even further than that. Until I dose off I believe deep within me that I’ve lost the ability to sleep ever again (because of my lack of fatigue at such a late hour), and that I would die as a result. There have also been times when I’ve feared that I’d eventually become so tired that I would fall asleep and never be able to wake up again.
Yet as I approached my teenage years I began to recognise so ways in which I could fall asleep quite easily; and they were by doing activities that weren’t ever mentioned (or even recommended) to me. In order to sleep I need to stimulate my mind with outside light and noise. Doing that distracts my mind from internal fears and memories.
This is good when I’m sleeping on my own with a room to myself. Yet if there are other people present, there can of course be problems with doing that. However I also found out another good way to fall asleep, at the time when I was introduced to the Harry Potter books as a nine year old. Reading the books would put me in a calm and relaxed mindset. Perfect for me to have a good night’s sleep. The only difficulty was that I need my eyes open in order to read a book. So I came up with an idea of learning to recite the Harry Potter books to myself from memory.
Doing that enables me to fall asleep quite easily on just about every night, excluding times when I’m unwell or when it’s a sweltering summer night (Brisbane does get both hot and humid in the summer months). But sleeping under those conditions is difficult for everybody, and not just people who experience chronic insomnia.
Into my adulthood I’ve continued doing those sleeping exercises that I myself found out work for me. On most nights I now fall asleep within less than hour, and get a full cycle of sleep right through to the morning. Nothing else feels better and more refreshing than to wake up in the early light after a good night’s sleep. Also during the day I feel much happier and more willing to do all of my required work
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