In Day 8 you’ll discover how to cure insomnia that’s caused by thinking or worrying about the future.
Remember, in the article on how to sleep better using two simple mental concepts, I said that good sleepers tend to feel that their day is “done” and can let go of it better than insomniacs can.
Day 7 of this tutorial dealt with problem-solving concepts to help insomniacs rediscover that “day is done” feeling.
When you take productive action on whatever is bothering you, you are much more likely to feel that sense of completion that should come at right around bedtime. Setting aside time to solve problems during waking hours is one “how to cure insomnia” method that has always worked very well for me.
I also mentioned that good sleepers are more likely to wait until tomorrow comes before living it. Insomniacs tend to get ahead of themselves, already jumping into the future, either worrying, making plans or even anticipating the next day in a positive way. None of these mental activities are compatible with sleep.
But just how do you change the habit of wanting to beat the future to the finish line?
How to cure insomnia when you’re in a state of anticipation, either worrying about tomorrow or wishing it was already over?
Good question. I have to admit, this is something I still have problems with. I’ve gotten quite good at letting go of the day. Anticipating the next day, when there’s something about to happen that I feel I’m not truly prepared for, is still a challenge. But I CAN do it when I really want to, and so can you.
Anticipatory Anxiety and Insomnia
Of all the causes of insomnia, anticipatory anxiety is often the first one to show up and the last one to leave. That means that if you have chronic insomnia and it begins to improve, you might experience a relapse just before an important event.
Anticipatory anxiety seems to thrive on any slight tendency towards sleeplessness, with the ability to start an insomnia problem and then help it develop into a full-blown chronic case.
But never fear. Here are some steps on how to cure insomnia caused by anticipatory worry or anxiety:
Step One: Identify the true cause of your worry or restlessness.
There are really just four main reasons why people can’t sleep because of anticipation over the future:
- Fear of judgment
When you’re a perfectionist, you pretty much want everything to go exactly the way you think it should. You tend to believe that the consequences of things NOT going “right” are truly awful.
Now some might call you a “control freak.” Since I’m a perfectionist myself, I like to be kinder and gentler with my fellow control fre—, um, I mean perfectionists.
The real problem, you see, is two-fold. First, you have the brilliant and discerning mind that can see very clearly how things SHOULD be. That part is really OK. There’s nothing wrong with this trait, as it can be put to some very useful, productive purposes.
The weak link of perfectionism is the second part of the equation. You have the tendency to think that when things DON’T go exactly right, the consequences will be dire, awful or even horrendous.
This is the part that’s causing you to toss and turn in bed. This is what you will need to work on in learning how to cure insomnia.
If insecurity is the problem, it means that fears of not being completely safe and secure are rolling around in your brain, messing up your natural sleep cycles and triggering your stress response… which leads to hyperarousal of the nervous system… which leads to… chronic insomnia.
As an insecure person myself, I can confirm that one thing in particular never failed to pull the trigger on my stress response — what was it?
That’s right, anything that challenged my comfort zone, anything I had to do that I’d never done before, and anything that required resources that I wasn’t sure I had, always caused me a sleepless night — when I had chronic insomnia.
So, did I have to become a confident, courageous, optimistic, adventurous risk taker in order to figure out how to cure insomnia?
I just used ordinary cognitive behavioral methods to alleviate my exaggerated thoughts, as discussed below and in this article here.
AND I made sure I fully confronted these issues, deliberately put in some time and effort well before I went to bed, so I could get it all out of my system and relax.
Fear of Judgment
The third thing that keeps many insomniacs tossing and turning is fear of being judged. This can also be fear of not meeting the perceived expectations of others. This is the fear that’s behind all these delightful things:
- Performance anxiety
- Social anxiety
- Test anxiety
- Job anxiety
- Stage fright
- Peer pressure
- Parent pressure
- Self esteem issues
- Fear of public speaking
- And a host of other hang-ups too numerous to mention.
As someone who has always had these social fears and anxious tendencies, I know how troublesome they can be.
So did I have to throw off all of my fears and anxieties in order to sleep better? Did I have to transform my inner being to the point that I enveloped myself in a cloud of love and courage, and never feared the judgment of another human ever again? Just so I could learn how to cure insomnia?
Let me think for a minute. Did I transform myself completely… hmmm, let’s see if I can remember correctly….
Oh yeah, I remember. Nope.
I slept better because I finally realized that I can work on myself and my life during the day, when I’m awake. During the day, I use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. At night, I can just let go and fall into blissful unconsciousness.
Now some people just have a lot of mental and creative energy. They can’t wait for the next day to arrive simply because they love the challenge and the opportunity of having another day to do their thing.
The only problem is, when the day finally arrives, after a night of not sleeping, it’s not as much fun as you thought, because you’re feeling pretty tired.
This can get old quick. But I don’t want you to give up your excitement and creativity. Fortunately, I can show you how to cure insomnia without changing your true nature.
Use cognitive therapy techniques to transform your exciting thoughts and allow yourself to wait until the day arrives to unleash your powers of creativity and productivity.
Here is CBT in action once again to open the doors on how to cure insomnia in your own self-styled, customized way. For more info, review this article.
Step One: (I’m repeating this one for clarity.) Identify the state of mind that is causing your mental restlessness, worry or anxiety over the future. Is it perfectionism? Insecurity? Fear of judgment? Excitement?
Step Two: Identify the actual thoughts that are fueling these mind-states. Write them down. This is the application of cognitive behavioral techniques, which you can read more about in this article on how to cure insomnia using CBT methods.
Step Three: Answer back to your thoughts. Write down an encouraging, rational, helpful reply that you can repeat to yourself over and over again. Keep doing this until you feel a change taking place.
Step Four: Do not let up on these techniques just because you have no immediate anxieties. These are responses that come up now and then, and are very event-specific.
That is, if nothing is happening in your life to trigger the anxiety, you will naturally feel like slipping back into your comfort zone, but it will just pop up again the next time. The status quo won’t tell you how to cure insomnia.
Step Five: You don’t have to change or transform your personality to sleep well. I’ve repeated this many times already because I know from my own experience that it’s the truth.
The only thing you need to do is transfer your anxious time to another part of the day. If you do this, and only this, you will see improvement. (This is one of my best how to cure insomnia tips, and is one reason I keep pushing it so much.)
But while you’re at it, you might as well change the rigid, unhelpful beliefs that cause you the anxiety in the first place. So Step Five is, keep going and don’t stop until you’re happy! That’s what I’m doing, and will continue to do for as long as it takes.