Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, is probably the thing that people most often mention as an issue. Not that it’s always the reason why they might approach a therapist, though that clearly happens, too. Rather, it’s that, whatever their main ‘problem’, a huge number of people also have trouble sleeping.
If you want a meditation to help you sleep, there’s a video at the end of this post. If you want to know more about sleep issues, keep reading.
Different Kinds of Insomnia
While some medical approaches to insomnia define five types of insomnia, really these are combinations of each other.
Acute insomnia is when your sleeping issues are temporary or short-lived, often caused by a change in routine or a specific upset.
Chronic insomnia For some, that’s trouble getting to sleep (onset insomnia). For others it’s trouble staying asleep, or getting back to sleep after having woken (maintenance insomnia). For some it’s a feeling that your sleep wasn’t good quality and you feel tired. is a longer lasting or permanent issue.
Within these, you can have Onset insomnia, which is when you have trouble falling asleep in the first place.
And there is Maintenance insomnia, where you wake up once of more in the night, and may have difficulty getting back to sleep.
The final type is Behavioural insomnia of childhood – basically needing to help children to get into a good sleep routine, and fighting the ‘I don’t want to go to bed’ arguments.
Within this, you can have acute onset insomnia – short-term difficulty getting to sleep – chronic maintenance insomnia – long-term trouble staying asleep – and so on. So, variations on when you can’t sleep and how long-lasting the issue is.
The main point here is that, whatever kind of sleep issue you have, it’s good to do something about it. After all, not sleeping makes everything else seem worse, and is also bad for your health in a number of different ways.
The Downsides of Not Getting Enough Sleep
While there are lots of studies on the issues caused by lack of sleep, generally you don’t need a huge number of details to confirm what you already know or realise from your own experience.
Not getting as much sleep as your body and mind need leads to physical, mental and emotional issues.
On the physical front, being tired lowers your body’s immune system. So, you are more prone to catching bugs, or suffering more from a bug you already have. It also reduces your energy levels, so you find it harder to get stuff done, be it exercising or working or whatever else you have scheduled into your day.
On a mental level, being tired makes remembering things and thinking creatively harder. Most studies suggest you can still do these things, but they will feel more of a challenge. Rather than cruising through your day feeling productive and inspired, you have to fight your way through to achieve even vaguely similar results.
And emotionally, you tend to be on more of a hair-trigger when you are tired. It’s much easier to get provoked into negative emotions and outbursts when you are feeling beat!
Now you might be saying, I see five kinds of insomnia, and three types of effect, so what are the two aspects mentioned in the title? Fair question!
When you are lying in bed sleepless, there are two possible aspects to this. And you may have one or the other, and sometimes you will have both.
Firstly, the mental/emotional. It is your brain that is doing the thinking/worrying about something that happened during the day/week. Or stressing about something coming up in the future. Or fretting about the fact that you’re not sleeping right now and why aren’t you sleeping and why can’t you turn your brain off… There is both a mental (thoughts about something) and an emotional component (worry, stress, sadness, anger, frustration) to this ‘brain’ aspect of insomnia.
Secondly, there is the physical. For example, you have been woken by a noise, or once awake hear a noise. Your heart starts beating faster, your breathing quickens, your ears strain to hear exactly what it was. Or maybe you’re thinking about a situation you have to deal with the next day/later that day, and you start feeling an anxious tightness in your chest, or an angry clenching of your jaw. These are physical manifestations of your emotions.
Okay, so why does this matter?
Working on Both Aspects
The reason why these two aspects are important is because it can be helpful to do something to calm yourself on both these levels. While doing a mind-based meditation will eventually also help your body to calm, there are things you can do to directly and quickly calm your body.
Now, these are feedback loops: calming your mind will calm your body; calming your body will calm your mind.
The point is: doing both will work more rapidly and effectively!
In the video below, you can listen to a hypnotic meditation for sleep. It also demonstrates a simple and very pleasant way of calming your body at the same time. And the best bit, it’s easy to do while lying comfortably in bed ready to drop off to sleep!