Have you noticed that when you really crave something, it seems to elude you?
I've had periods in my life when I've really struggled with sleep. I've been on my knees with exhaustion all day, looking after young children in a goldfish bowl haze, feeling wired, only to eventually collapse into bed and then 'PING'.
Nada. No sleep. At all.
Darkness descends. The clock marches on. I am counting down possible sleep opportunities while anxiety surges through my limbs. Then the reality of 3am. The loneliest hour, where I feel like the planet's only inhabitant and my mind is a magnifying glass of overwhelming 'what ifs?' A wise woman once told me to ignore all 3am thinking because it holds no truth.
There is an unease that fuels the cycle of insomnia, such as research into the crippling effects of sleep loss, coupled with analytical digital devices strapped to our wrists that count the lack and heighten the misery.
There are promises of 'fixes' in the form of lavender pillow spray, pre-bedtime routine, remedies, medication and much more. I tried them all. In the postnatal period I would have happily remortgaged the house in the name of a guaranteed 'solution' to the problem.
Until I saw that what was really going on was the resistance to 'what is'.
Faithless filled dance floors with the reiteration of the lyrics "I can't get no sleep."
And there is it in the very idea that 'I can't get it'. What this means is that I want it but it is eluding me. The more it eludes me, the more my anxiety rockets and so it perpetuates in a relentless 'dog-chasing-tail' painful pursuit.
Because all the time we treat is as a problem to fix or something to strive for, we hold it in a relationship of non-acceptance. We fight (dark forces in the clear moonlight). We thrash against the non-sleepdom and refuse the state we are experiencing so emphatically that sleep is the last thing that will naturally occur. When you 'will' sleep it is entirely counter intuitive.
It's an innocent pattern that is established and entrenched the more we repeat it. Because in doing so we are over-riding the system and ignoring our body's innate intelligence.
So when insomnia occasionally returns, which it does sometimes, yes I resist it initially with the thought of 'here it goes again'. Then I remember that's just thinking. It's uncomfortable but I allow it to be. Just as it is. Nothing to fix. No strategy or routine. The 3am thinking can do its thing but I see it for what it is. And when I stop craving it, I'm no longer thinking about it...because I've fallen asleep. Sweet dreams.
If you are struggling with insomnia and feel this post resonates, please do get in touch to explore it further.