Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thoughts from 3am

A common problem is sleep disturbance. I think when most people think about insomnia, they mostly think about difficulties falling asleep, known as primary insomnia. There are many sites that give good sleep hygiene tips to address this problem. Like here, for example, and here and here....

Yet often problems relate to what is called middle insomnia, waking up in the middle of the night. This can often be accompanied by a continual cycle of thoughts that once initiated are very hard to stop. I've never had any sleep problems until recently. Now, every night, I'll fall asleep only to wake up an hour or two later and lie awake thinking, thinking, thinking.

Middle insomnia can be attributed to a number of causes including physical and mental health problems, particularly stress when you may experiencing difficulties 'shutting down' the brain. If you research middle insomnia, you'll mostly find the general sleep hygiene hints. Useful in themselves but not much help in shutting a persistent brain down.

A very simple technique that has proved invaluable to me is called the A to Z distraction task. Basically, you select a theme and then name a suitable item from A-Z. For example, capital, Amsterdam, Budapest, Cairo and so on. It doesn't sound like much, does it but it works like a dream (ha!) for me every time. Of course, if Practical Man is snoring, nothing can distract!

The only problem is that, after a while, you need to increase the difficulty of the theme otherwise you reach Z before you get to sleep. My last effort was comedians and I was asleep by 'H'.

Do you experience middle insomnia and what do you do to deal with it?

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