You lay awake in the middle of the night thinking. Sometimes it’s the obsessive thoughts about how much you suck, what you should of done differently, or how someone else has wronged you. Or maybe there is agitation in your body, some energy that is erratic and frustrating. You wonder how could anyone sleep in these conditions!?
You have tried everything: exercise during the day to wear yourself out, drinking less coffee during the day, meditation, sound machines, getting up and doing things around the house in the middle of the night, maybe even praying to God! As you become more desperate you start to use THC (think smoking weed), or decide to just have a few drinks to lull you into a nice comatose like state. Possibly sedatives and prescription drugs enter the scene at this time as well. It all starts to get a little sketchy at this juncture, mixing meds, going on, getting off, and all you want to do is sleep.
This is a rough place to be. There is something particularly stressful and even frightening about not being able to sleep. The next day is often shot to hell, your relationships suffer, your work suffers, and your general sense of wellbeing is thrown off. Maybe you have only some of these symptoms and can manage to sleep well from time to time, but there is always that fear that this night you wont be able to.
At this point you might be thinking, “Ok, yes all very depressing, so what are these “suggestions” you alluded to in the title?!” Right, ok here they are! If you have been checked out by a doctor and all your hormones are in order and you are not having an allergic reaction to some thing in your house then maybe there is something psychological happening.
During sleep we are very vulnerable. We are unconscious and on some level very open. If your issue is falling asleep then I would suggest exploring any resistance you have to the ideas of “letting go,” “surrender,” or “vulnerability.” Explore through writing, therapy, or art what happens at the point when you could let go into sleep but cannot.
Others of you may wake up in the middle of the night, you fall asleep fine but at some point you awaken. There may be racing thoughts, an agitation in the body, or even emotions arising to the surface. If this is your struggle then look to unresolved trauma, resentments, and/or difficult family of origin relationships. See if there are parts of your inner life that you have been amputating out of your consciousness for fear of what would happen if you faced these issues. Because we are so vulnerable in these unconscious states this rejected inner material is ripe to pop its head up and make you face it. One solution for this is to deliberately face this rejected material in the light of day. Explore through writing, art, meditation, and especially therapy the ins and outs of this material.
The basic guideline is to see what is rejected in your consciousness with compassion in the light of day. Then these parts of yourself may be satisfied and let you get a good nights rest. A therapist adept in parts work (also known as internal family systems), and in trauma work will be especially helpful in getting you on the right track. Give it time, but with persistence and compassion for this rejected internal material you have the possibility to sleep soundly again!
I've known Karolina for several years now. We met back in grad school. Since day one I have been impressed with her ability to be sincere, kind and insightful. She has a keen and compassionate eye as a therapist. Recently, I was lucky to find that my new office is just down the hall from Karolina, so I've found myself enjoying that we are able to share insights and a laugh pretty regularly. I hope that you enjoy her thoughtful and candid writing. To find out more about Karolina see her Bio and contact links in the post script of this blog.
Karolina has worked in the therapeutic field for 11 years. Her passion for writing, teaching, and experiential work has led her on many adventures both inner and outer. From the desert canyonlands of Utah, to the mountains of northern Arizona, to most currently the foothills of Colorado. In all these places Karolina has sought a further understanding of herself, others, and the systems both inner and outer that deeply affect our daily lives. All of her writing is based on work with her wonderful clients, or personal experience. For more blog posts check out her website at karolinawalsh.com. Or to contact her please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org