Overcoming Insomnia: “Other” Approaches

Often it goes like this: You start having trouble with sleep. Maybe you are just restless or maybe you have full blown insomnia. Maybe you’re down to 5 hours a night or maybe you’re down to 1. Either way it sucks. So you make the recommended lifestyle changes. You talk to you doctor and try some natural sleep aids on her recommendation. But your sleep struggles persist and when they go on long enough you are willing to try anything. ANYTHING….including:

Acupuncture. Fortunately I was lucky to have a practitioner friend who was committed to curing my insomnia with regular acupuncture.  Depending on your income and your benefits, this isn’t an option for everyone. Unfortunately my regular acupuncture treatments did not help me sleep. They relaxed me incredibly, perhaps the most unstressed and relaxed I’ve ever been, but it did not effect my insomnia.

Transformational Breathwork. This was interesting. I took a 4 hour workshop that involved lying in a dark room with 10 strangers and just breathing under the guidance of practitioners. For 4 hours. It seemed as though everyone else in the room had life changing experiences, but not me. And no, it did not help me sleep. 

Hypnosis. I wanted this to work so badly, I really did. But it did not. I went to three sessions. I believed.  I participated. I followed all the instructions. I think I’m just too high strung to be hypnotized. Didn’t work. 

Swimming. Apparently this resets your circadian rhythm. It didn’t help me.

Meditation. Again, I’m too high strung for this to work, though I’m totally open to trying meditating again…one day.

Prayer. Nope. 

Podcasts and Crime Dramas. I have no idea why this works for me, but it does. It’s a trick I use when I wake up in the middle of the night or too early on a weekend and just feel awake and ready to go at a time that I should still be sleeping. I put on a podcast or a crime drama–something that I’m not invested in or excited about, but am interested enough in to take my mind away. I’m able to check out, my mind drifts and I fall back to sleep.

Therapy. Every six months or so the Globe and Mail has an article on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – Insomnia (CBT-I) and how it can cure insomnia better than anything. Unfortunately, there are very few CBT-I trained therapists in Canada and none that I have found Vancouver Island, or elsewhere who would be willing to speak over the phone. So while, this sounds very promising, it is not accessible to everyone at this time. I did, however, speak with a therapist with some sleep experience, but it was clear my issues were out of her scope.

Oh the things you try when you’re desperate. While I know some of the practices above really do help people sleep, I just wasn’t one of the lucky ones.


One thought on “Overcoming Insomnia: “Other” Approaches

  1. I find that any kind of procedural drama – especially crime or hospital ones (maybe it’s all the beds and sick people?) tend to make me sleepy. Another one: watching March of the Penguins. I can’t stay awake through that movie to save my life. I find it very soothing.

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