You’ve been working all day. You haven’t finished all of your work. At best, you have made a tiny dent (which will be refilled tomorrow). But, it doesn’t matter. Nothing else can be done for today. All you need now is a good night’s rest. Yet as you start to lay down, the thoughts start!
“Not again”, you cry out in despair as your head starts to throb. It’s been months since you’ve gotten a restful night’s rest.
“This short attack of alarmingly quickly beating heart may come, and so often does, just as you are going off to sleep, or may even wake you from sleep. Do not sit up in panic. The more you panic, the more adrenalin is released by your nerves and the quicker your heart beats. […] I still suspect that if you take your pulse you will find that its rate is not much more than one hundred and twenty beats to each minute. Even if it is, it is not important. A healthy heart can tolerate a rate of over two hundred beats per minute for many hours, even days, without evidence of damage.”
From Self-Help for Your Nerves
Here is the solution:
- The intrusive thought shows up.
- Let the thought float and pass.
- Don’t panic (you have to practice this – life requires effort).
- Feel useless and go to sleep (see the article on being alone).
[Recommended reading: Self-Help for Your Nerves by Claire Weekes]
This book contains a lot more specific information on different stress cases. Check it out at your public library!
Rather than creating a entirely new article, I am simply going to add to the existing insomnia article.
“But why, you may ask, do I have to do these exercises to calm my
mind during the daytime? I’m fine during the daytime! My problem
is at night. I can’t sleep! The answer is that insomnia isn’t just a nighttime problem. The quality and quantity of your sleep at night depends in large part on the quality of your activity during the day. For example, let’s say you’re one of those people, not unusual in contemporary society, who spend the whole day sprinting from one appointment to the next, juggling meetings and deadlines, and running for buses, taxis, or departing flights with nary a moment to catch your breath. It may be an exciting way to live, but it is really hard on your mind and body. You are overscheduled, overstimulated, hypervigilant, and hyperaroused. The hypothalamic-pituitaryad renal (HPA) axis—your body’s central stress response mechanism— is pumping out stress and arousal hormones, and all the systems of your body are working harder and running hotter than normal. Even when you stop to rest, your body and mind are still highly activated. You never achieve that state of quiet repose that would allow you to recover from the stress of life. That much you probably already know. But what you may not realize is that the stress that nips at your heels during waking hours follows you right into your bedroom, undermining the quality of your nighttime sleep.”
“Harold stared at me in disbelief when first I told him that being more relaxed during waking hours would help him to sleep more peacefully at night. A more peaceful life? That was the last thing on his agenda! It took some skillful negotiating on my part to get him to acknowledge that there might be some connection between his nonstop, high-intensity working style and his inability to sleep.”
The Insomnia Solution: The Natural Drug-Free Way to a Good Night’s Sleep by Michael Krugman
I will admit that I am resistant to the idea that my day-time behavior influences my night-time behavior. At a rational level, I understand this obvious truth; Our thoughts exist in the domain of science. If I think positive, kind thoughts, then I will release serotonin molecules and other healthy hormones into my body. If I think stressful thoughts, then I will release cortisol molecules and other stressful hormones into my body.
Some people deny that they are thinking stressful thoughts, because they would rather blame some outside forces. But, I know what I am doing. I acutely stress myself by ruminating about what people think of me.
[A whole article could be written about how thoughts do not magically appear. I likely learned this acute stress habit from my mother who constantly told me that others were judging me.]
Anyways, here is the grand solution:
- Change your stressful habits
The below image may provide some clarity.