How to turn off insomnia brain

As promised! A strategy from Judith Mendoza to help you reign in those late night
thoughts that keep you from getting the sleep that you need. 

Judith is an occupational therapist with advanced level training in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). With over 15 years of hospital based experience providing mental health counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. she has worked with adults from all walks of life and with a wide variety of conditions such as anxiety, panic, depression,  and chronic pain. Her style is client centred, non judgemental and recovery focused.  

 

Ahh, night time.  Kids are asleep and the house is finally quiet. Time for a little solitude. Time to get some well needed rest and for some of us, time to lie awake and worry.

For night time worriers sleep is often one of the topics that gets worried about. This in turn makes it harder to fall asleep, and the worry continues to grow. It can feel all-consuming and out of your control.

There is a particular way of thinking that is associated with insomnia. Researchers have termed this thinking style as the insomnia brain. The insomnia brain tends to be very noisy.  It can feel as if negative thoughts are spreading like wildfire. Many of my clients describe feeling tired and ready for sleep as they get into bed but as soon as they turn out the light, it’s as if a mental switch flips and the thoughts flood in.

When our brain is alert we cannot sleep.

The more this happens, the more it is likely to continue to happen. This thinking style can become an unintentional and unwanted mental habit. Over time the bed becomes a signal for worry and upset.

So what can you do?

The most effective strategy for quieting an active mind is to leave the bedroom. Often taking the insomnia brain out of bed results in more clear-headed thinking and being better able to shut off troublesome thoughts.

It may take several attempts but eventually the brain will relearn that the bed is a place for sleep.

This strategy can be difficult to initiate. Some people worry that they may lose sleep by leaving the bedroom.  However, the chance of falling asleep when our mind is busy is highly unlikely.

Having a plan in place as to where you would go after leaving the bedroom and what quiet and purposeless activity (such as pleasure reading) you could do, can be helpful.

Whether your difficulties with sleep and worry are relatively new or you have been struggling for many years it is possible to quiet the worry mind and take back control of your sleep.

Interested in learning more? Go to www.agoodsleep.ca

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