Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
Hello! Please remember that my response is for information only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.
It sounds like you have some things on your mind (like about your Mum) that could be keeping you awake --but first let's check some of the things that are related to "sleep hygeine," some simple things that can either help people sleep or keep them awake:
1. Drinking caffeine
2. taking naps (can contribute to poor sleep)
3. Internet or TV before bed (can stimulate the mind)
4. Working in bed (or going on the internet)
5. Excersing too close to bedtime
7. Being too warm in the room --or lights
Do you find that your mind is racing?
Another one ---how old is your mattress? I've had several people I was working with and after we couldn't figure out why they weren't sleeping they discovered that their mattress was no longer comfortable (hit the "too old" point).
Yeah kind of, its as if there's always something that Im thinking about. I can never just keep my mind blank.
I suppose i have had my mattress for a long time, about 7 years roughly.
But it hasn't been a problem usually, so why would that suddenly affect me now?
OK --one thing you can try (not in bed) is write down as much as you can on paper to "get it out" --don't worry about how it sounds, you are just trying to dump onto paper --as quickly and as much as you can think of.
ok then. Do you mean i should try that now?
7 years isn't too old --well the mattress doesn't suddenly "go bad," I think it's a gradual thing --it gets worse and worse slowly over time. But, it sounds like that's not it.
Yes --try it tonight ---
the writing ---
Okay then. Do you think it would be better if i did it just before I go to sleep, or is that unnecessary?
Well, you might have to experiment with the timing of it --if it works to do it earlier, that would be great, but some people need to do it closer to bedtime or else they start to re-think some of the things again. It kind of depends on how much you worry or ruminate over the same thoughts.
Okay I'll give it a try. If that doesn't work could you perhaps suggest something else i could do..
Yes --relaxation CDs --I prefer ones that talk you through some kind of guided imagery (as opposed to just relaxing music) to help you relax, breathe, etc...
I can give you the instructions for the abdominal breathing ----
This is called the 4 by 4 breathing exercise because you should practice it for 4 minutes 4 times a day to learn to do it well. If you are able, do this with your eyes closed, imagining a pleasant place. This is calming and designed to help you manage stress. There are two important things to learn about breathing:
1. Learn how to breathe from your diaphragm (from your tummy area) and make that pattern a part of your daily life.
2. Become skilled at shifting to diaphragmatic breathing whenever you begin to feel stressed.
1. Gently and slowly inhale a normal amount of air through your nose, filling only our lower lungs. Place your hands on your tummy so that you can feel it rising and falling with each breath. Count to 5 slowly as you do it.
2. Exhale slowly through your lips, counting to 5 as you do so.
3. Continue this slow, gentle breathing with a relaxed attitude, concentrating on filling only your lower lungs.
4. As you breathe, slowly repeat the word “relax” or “calm” or some other word which means the same to you.
If you have difficulty following the above instructions:
1. Lie down on a rug or your bed, with your legs relaxed and straight, a book on your tummy and your hands by your side.
2. Let yourself breath normal easy breaths. Notice what part of our upper body rises and fall with each breath. Rest a hand on that spot. If that place is your chest, you are not taking full advantage of your lungs. If the book is moving up and down, then, congratulations, you are doing it right!
Deep breathing is an extension of this normal process. With one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen, take a slow, deep breath, filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. When you exhale, let your upper lungs go first (causing your upper hand to drop), then your lower lungs (causing your lower hand to drop).
Reminder: Too many deep breaths, instead of natural breaths in a row, will produce a sense of lightheadedness. This is not harmful; just return to natural breathing.
Natural slow breathing and the deep slow breathing several times each day. Practice natural breathing for a period of at least 4 minutes, 4 times a day. The object is to train yourself to breathe from your diaphragm most of the time.
Practice really is the key to the abdominal breathing ----
Once you feel comfortable with it, you can start counting your breathes per minute --and try to reduce the number of breaths you take per minute.
Another exercise is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
I'll give you the instructions for that too ----
But one disclaimer on PMR --don't do it if you have significantly low blood pressure
Rationale: It is not physically possible to have a feeling of warmth, well-being, and relaxation in your body while experiencing emotional/psychological stress.
What it does: Progressive muscle relaxation reduces pulse rate, blood pressure and decreases perspiration and respiration rates.
Who should use it: All of us can benefit from a lifestyle that involves more relaxation. However, Progressive muscle relaxation is particularly useful for the following problems: Insomnia, depression, anxiety, muscle tension, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasms, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, phobias, and stuttering.
Time to Truly Master: Two 15 minutes sessions per day for one to two weeks.
Which Muscles? Do you know which of your muscles are chronically tense? Some do, but most people don’t. One thing Progressive Muscle relaxation will teach you is how to tell the difference between the sensation of tension and the sensation of deep relaxation. We will cover four major muscle groups:
Basic Instructions: You need 10-20 undisturbed minutes. You can sit or lie down. You might play some soothing music or have complete silence.
You will be quickly tensing each muscle group for 5 to 7 seconds, quickly releasing and then relaxing for 20 to 30 seconds. You might do abdominal breathing in between muscle groups, focus on a pleasant scene, and/or recite a self soothing statement or comforting Bible verse (i.e. “The Lord is my Shepherd….”)
Example: Clench your two fists as tight as you can, hold it, hold it, hold it, notice the tension in your wrist. Quickly let it go. Feel the looseness in your hands and wrists, notice how different it feels from when you had it tensed. Repeat one more time.
The PMR takes about 10 minutes --it's a good distraction, relaxes you, and can help clear your mind. But if you need longer, then a CD with someone's voice guiding you might work better.
Alright then, I shall try to do as much of these as I can today. Thank you. By the way, do you think my insomnia will be a long term problem or is this just a health issue that is common amongst a lot of people?
Most people experience insomnia now and then and it's rarely a long term problem. Hopefully it won't last much longer for you if you experiment with some of these ideas. I wouldn't worry about it until it lasts longer than 3-4 weeks (which I know is a long time if you're not sleeping well).
People who typically have chronic insomnia generally have another issue such as: depression, experience with trauma, anxiety disorder, substance abuse ---things like that.
Alrite that's good to hear. Thank you very much for your help, I will definitely try and use some of the suggestions that you have given me!
You are welcome, and I hope that they work well and quickly!
You and me both!
:) sleep tight!
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