What to do when insomnia creeps back?

Life is weird. The positive irony is that the most expected thing happens when you least expect it. When I launched this blog a few months back (and came out from my insomnia-forever-closet) my feelings went on a rollercoaster. First it was: fear, fear, fear. Then: WTF, WTF, WTF. And finally: free, free, free. And the end result? I sleep better than ever! This said, the stupid insomnia tries to creep back now and then. And of course it tries, the bastard, that’s its mission. So what do I do when that happens? Here are some practical thoughts for DIY healing.

When insomnia tries to creep back it tells me this: slow down. I go outdoors and while there I get answers to my troubles.

When insomnia tries to creep back it tells me this: slow down. I go outdoors and while there I get answers to my troubles.


First of all, I have accepted my sensitivity. Do not get me wrong. Acceptance does not equal surrender. I just know that insomnia is my way to react to worries and stress. And it always has a message to me: slow down. Now I know this, earlier I just thought I had a fatal system error. Because I know this, I no longer turn into a victim and feel pity for myself (what a loss! I was very good at this). Instead I take a moment to myself and go through things that are bothering me. As I find the root-causes for my current ill-being, I know what to do. Sometimes I am just over-doing my capacity and need a bit of re-planning and rescheduling.

Whatever is the resolution at hand, here are my 5 key DIY-tips to do when the evil insomnia creeps back.

1. STOP. Insomnia is telling you something. Take a moment to yourself, go through your life at that moment. List things that are 1) Great 2) OK 3) Slightly annoying 4) Seriously disturbing. List even the smallest things.

2. IDENTIFY. Sometimes we are blind. We don’t see the evidence before us. So list at least 3 things that are most likely the reasons for your poor sleep. One of them will be right. Sometimes, quite surprisingly, it is very challenging to be honest to ourselves. We can’t believe how silly things bother us, and feel ashamed.

3. TACKLE. Tackle the issues that scare and annoy you most. Fear is often the underlying food for insomnia. Don’t push or hide things that need your attention. This said, don’t force things either. Some things can be solved on their own, some things need to be faced. As you prioritise your worries, you learn to know which ones needs to be tackled and which ones left in peace.

4. PLAN. Most people like order: that comforting feeling that left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Insomnia likes order too. The better order in head, the better order in bed. In most cases, insomnia is a reaction to stress and worries. So put them in order. Plan your days better. Know what happens and when and eventually you will free your rambling mind to sleep in peace. Remember: Sleep problems are not created at night! (by Dr Nerina Ramlakhan).

5. REWARD. We humans love punishing ourselves but forget to celebrate the good milestones. Reward yourself when you sleep better – it’s a sign that you are doing something right. Personal growth can happen with very small steps, as tiny as not getting agitated when somebody shouts at me. I just walk away and then feel extremely smug about myself. Reward-time? Absolutely!! Bring me that cake.

I am aware that this is not a typical list. A typical list would be full of all kinds of restricting rules. Go to bed at 10! Always wake up at the same exact time! Don’t eat meat in the evenings! Stop alcohol! No TV late in the evenings! Leave your mobile phone in the kitchen! Personally, I am sick and tired of these stop-stop-stop lists. None of these lists have ever helped me. In fact, the more obsessed and routine driven I became, the worse my sleep developed. So, to h*** with the rules and more rules. All we need is a bit more understanding, compassion and planning and voila, we are on the right track, sliding into heavenly peace, into heavenly sleep.

Are you familiar with rebounding insomnia? What has helped you to stop the chain reaction? Please do leave a comment, I would love to hear it.


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