The Mental Health Solution . com
"The entrance of thy words giveth light (Psalm 119:130)."

Insomnia

A former client of mine once told his doctor that he had trouble sleeping. No surprise: The doctor gave him yet another prescription. He was already taking unneeded psychotropic drugs three times a day.

I can tell you what I could not legally tell him: This is crazy! He may become dependent on the drug—and it will certainly contribute to his health problems.

Insomnia is a real problem, but more drugs are not the answer. Let's take a fresh look at this issue.

Insomnia is generally the result of conscious and/or subconscious thoughts that are stressful or exciting. These thoughts can involve unsolved problems or just nervous excitement. Other factors may include the effects of medications or drugs (e.g. Coffee too close to bedtime), pain, noise and exercising too close to bedtime.

Address these issues in advance so that your insomnia occurs less frequently. For example, try to resolve family conflicts so that you don't have to sleep on them. And don't focus on problems or unpleasant events in the hours before bedtime.

Praying before bedtime is also a good idea. You can pray for protection from demonic attacks at night and that God will enable you to get a good night's sleep. Thanking God for blessings you've received should be a part of this prayer.

Another thing that helps prevent insomnia is to watch cartoons before bedtime.

Once insomnia becomes a problem, you need a plan to deal with it. Without drugs. Here are my suggestions.

First, address noise issues: If intrusive noise is a problem, you need a strategy of dealing with this. Here are some suggestions.

One option is to purchase noise-canceling headphones or similar devices that eliminate most of the noise. Many of these devices can cancel out noise with or without listening to music. ConsumerReports.org has information and ratings on available products. To purchase one of these products, click on this Amazon.com link.

Another option is to purchase a device that emits an audible sound or "white noise" that drowns out the noise. You can also use a free smart phone app that does the same thing.

For dogs barking at night, a simpler option should first be considered: Instead of getting mad, simply use this time as an opportunity to get your morning prayers done. The barking will allow you to concentrate on your prayers, while you are still lying down in bed, and when the dogs stop barking, you can go back to sleep.

Second, select a particular exercise that can be done if you can't sleep. The exercise should be sufficiently strenuous to dissipate tension. I know I said exercise too close to bedtime is sometimes a problem, but once you can't sleep, at this point exercise becomes useful. I use push ups. I can't imagine anything that works better.

Third, always have at least one productive activity planned that can been done if you can't sleep. This way, you win whether you can sleep or not!

Ideally, this activity should involve concentrated mental effort. Studying any subject, not related to psychology or emotional problems, will work. Casual reading doesn't work nearly as well. By forcing your conscious mind to focus, you also prevent your subconscious mind from continuing to dwell on the thoughts that are keeping you awake. This study period should be at least 20 minutes. Usually, you will start to feel tired after 20-30 minutes.

The next best thing would be some type of productive physical labor combined with listening to the radio or a CD (Again, nothing involving psychology or problems). The labor will work off some stress and provide a sense of accomplishment. The radio/CD will keep your mind occupied on something that does not create stress. Both will help with your insomnia.

Fourth, prayer and Bible study. If you still can't sleep, you can always use this time to pray and study the Bible. I might spend an hour praying and reading a chapter of the Bible.

Now, you need to get a 3x5 card and write down your own personalized insomnia plan. Just make a list of items that will help you get to sleep—in the order that you will try them. You then use as many of these items as necessary.

An example of an Insomnia Plan follows:

  • Set timer.
  • Exercise.
  • Study 30 minutes.
  • Work/Radio/CD.
  • Prayer/Bible Study.

Usually, only the first two or three items will be needed. But, if you later find that you need more help, just get up again and complete another item on your list.

I always set a timer first so that I don't spend more time awake than I intend to. This prevents unproductive daydreaming—or worse, thinking about problems.

Once you have completed a sufficient number of these items, go back to sleep doing one of the following: 1) Listen to a Bible CD or equivalent. This should be a single voice narration in which the author speaks in a way that is conducive to falling asleep. Look for descriptions like "voice only," "single voice narration" and "undramatized." The idea is to keep your mind occupied so that you don't again start focusing on problems. Increase the volume—within reason—as necessary. 2) Listen to soft, relaxing music. Christian music is especially effective for insomnia (Isaiah 26:3). Soft Christmas music also works well. Many clock/radio/cd players have a jack for an ear bud. This will help if someone is sleeping with you who doesn't want to be disturbed. 3) Continuous prayer until you fall asleep: This prayer should only involve praise and the giving of thanks. Don't ask God for anything—doing so will refocus your mind on problems—and you won't be able to sleep.

I suggest putting a cd player on the headboard above your bed. This way, you can easily adjust the volume.

Get up as soon as you can, once you realize you can't sleep. The above program will work much better if you get up right away, rather than after hours of tossing and turning.

Never allow yourself to worry about insomnia (Philippians 4:6). Worrying will result in negative conditioning that may lead to chronic insomnia.

Never think about problems once you've gone to bed. Rather, cast these burdens on the Lord (Psalm 55:22). This may need to be done repeatedly.

Sometimes spiritual footholds cause anxiety that may contribute to insomnia. Refer to my three part series entitled When Satan Gets a Foothold.

Medications or alcohol should be used only on rare occasions for insomnia. These often become habit forming—you soon won't be able to sleep without them. And there are often side effects. The newer medications, in particular, can pose serious risks.

A series of excellent articles on insomnia are included in the February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports.

People with a history of drug or alcohol abuse probably should not ever use drugs or alcohol for insomnia.

If you have any concerns about your ability to do strenuous exercise, consult your doctor in advance. Also, have your doctor rule out Sleep Apnea and address other medical conditions that may be related to your insomnia.

So these are my suggestions. They work for me. And I'm confident they will work for you as well.

Note: When choosing a Bible to listen to while you're falling asleep, it's important to choose one in which the speaker speaks in a way that is conducive to falling asleep. I particularly like Charles Taylor and Alexander Scourby.

 

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