Insomnia. It’s a side effect of my anxiety disorder. I’m exhausted at 9:30. I snuggle up in bed and get warm. Then I drift off to sleep. For two hours. Or an hour. And I’m up again. Tossing. Turning. And at 4 am I’m up and I’m not getting back to sleep. According to the Morpheuz App on my Pebble less than 15% of my sleep is “Deep and Restful”. The other 85% is either “Light” or “Restless”. My sleep graph looks like the heart graph of someone going through a severe cardiac episode and being shocked with paddles. Deep zig zags. No real lulls in the deep sleep valley.
So first I tried yoga. It’s exercise that also helps you relax. I try it at home and end up cross legged on my mat, staring as an incredibly perky blonde bends herself into pretzel shapes. And I still didn’t sleep. So I tried a yoga class because I was assured by a friend who is a yoga fiend that the good vibes would totally last the ten hours between the class and bedtime.
I ended up behind a man who was freeballing in running shorts. With a teacher who had decided todays asana was going to involve a lot of “Go into downward dog and now LIFT your head as you breathe in.” The yogic bliss of downward dog in a sweltering room didn’t last ten minutes—much less ten hours—but my yoga buddy was right. The class stayed with me for a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time afterwards. So long that when my actual dogs stretch I still sort of “ewwgh”.
Because let’s be serious ladies. Men are beautiful creatures. They are truly works of art. Just like women are. But there are a few spots on the human body that just aren’t pretty. The backs of your elbows. Nose hairs. The back of a pair of hairy balls. Those things are placed in a way that even God wouldn’t have to look at them.
So yeah, yoga? Maybe not for me.
Next, I tried warm baths before bed. Hot tea. Neither of those helped. So then I tried OTC sleeping pills. I still tossed and turned and the next day I felt like I’d been dragged through the ringer.
Honestly? I’m not judging. If you need a sleeping pill and it works for you then use it. But me? I’m better off sleep deprived than groggy. I can work under sleep deprivation. I have worked for years with insomnia. Grogginess just isn’t an option for me.
But I want to sleep. I like sleep. I’d like to do it daily for about 7- 9 hours. I think it would be a wonderful hobby to take up. Except for that whole insomnia thing.
So I start researching new ways to help myself get to sleep. And one of the most popular things that is mentioned is meditation. Meditation can help people who suffer from anxiety. It can help with insomnia. Not to mention all those neural pathways it’s supposed to light up and help prevent Alzheimers and stuff like that.
I read up on what meditation is supposed to be like. I find a pillow. I sit down. I close my eyes. And immediately I start to fidget. My nose itches. The dog has climbed into my lap and is licking my nose. My butt feels weird. I shift again. I wonder what’s on television. I have to pee.
This doesn’t work.
So then I try lying down and meditating. And I fall asleep. Half an hour later I’m awake again.
I try Headspace. It works ok. I can get through the meditation app but after a month I still didn’t feel less anxious and I was still sleeping just as badly.
Then a friend mentions that hypnosis really helped her stop her smoking habit. Maybe it could help me sleep? And even better, there’s an app for that as well.
So I go onto ITunes and I buy the Surf City hypnosis apps End Anxiety and Sleep Well.
That night, I plug in. I turn on the hypnotic booster and start listening to Sleep Well on repeat for 6 cycles – until just past 4 am. I’d like to tell you it was great and relaxing and well honestly? I don’t remember a damn thing. I slept the whole night through. I woke up at 6 am. I checked into the Morpheuz App on my Pebble. 45% of my sleep was “Deep and Restful”. I’m ready to cry from relief because OMG I forgot what being well rested felt like. Honestly? I wanted to go back to bed and sleep some more.
I’m now a week in on the Sleep Well app. Is it weird wearing earbuds in bed? Yes. But I’m getting used to it. Because honestly? Being well rested tops not feeling weird about wearing ear buds to bed.
I’ve also noticed my generalized anxiety decreasing. Does this mean I’m magically cured and can now tell you unequivocally that all you need to deal with a complicated diagnosis like anxiety is just a hypnosis app on your phone and you’ll never have another anxiety attack.
Anxiety and insomnia and just about anything else that has to do with the workings of your brain is really, really, REALLY complicated and there are no “cures” especially super quick click this link here cures. But for me? Right now, in this moment in time, Sleep Well is helping me get a full night’s sleep and alleviating my symptoms of insomnia without having to take a sleeping pill that’s going to make me feel worse instead of better in the morning. And the seven hours of sleep I’m getting? That’s helping me be more aware of my surroundings, it helps me stay mindful and it’s reducing my symptoms of anxiety. Reducing – not eliminating. But even when I do feel anxious and overwhelmed having a full night’s sleep helps me keep my head and remember all the behavioral management techniques I’ve learned to help me cope with my anxiety instead of just letting my body spiral into a full blown anxiety attack.
It’s about maintaining and right now, in this moment, laying down at night and listening to a hypnosis app is helping me do that. Plus, unlike meditation I don’t suddenly find that I really, really have to pee the minute I sit down. And unlike yoga I don’t unintentionally end up seeing the underside of an older guy’s hairy ball sack.