Most people have trouble sleeping on occasion, but severe, long stretches of insomnia can be very distressing.  What’s the dividing line between someone in the distressed camp and someone in the occasional-bout-of-insomnia camp?

It’s very simple:  it starts with how alarmed you get about disrupted sleep, and how unacceptable and disabling you believe reduced sleep to be.  Because if you are super alarmed about being awake, and if you believe the popular hype about the mandatory nature of 8 hours of sleep, then rather than transitioning back to sleep, you will naturally move into an alert state.  And this, in turn, will likely lead you to engage in a whole set of subtle activities, both overnight and during the day, that (unintentionally) perpetuate your sleep troubles.

In other words, it’s first about perspective, and then about maintenance functions.  So those two are the best intervention points.  (Of course, stronger feelings and deeper meanings about insomnia can also get activated, so sometimes those have to be addressed for the insomnia to be dislodged, so to speak.)

So if you are with me so far in this explanation, you may be expecting me to recommend what any self-respecting popular fitness magazine would recommend:  that you simply do the opposite.  That is, the next time you are awake at night, you must force yourself to stop worrying (i.e. “quiet your mind,” imagine yourself on a beach or some such), and relax immediately (i.e. engage in those meditation exercises right now!).

Nope.  If those were so easy to employ at a time like that, we all know this blog post wouldn’t exist.  My more realistic approach is to take a subtle look at your current perspective and maintenance activities, pay some respect to the steps that led you there, and then to begin to unwind the process.  And some of that is better done when you have your mental resources about you, like in a therapy session, rather than expecting yourself to put all this in place in the middle of the night.

And also unlike the magazine promises, you probably won’t be free of insomnia for a lifetime, but you can join the rest of the population in the pretty good, occasional-bout-of-insomnia camp!