Getting Emotional About Sleep Disorders

We all know now that insomnia is a symptom of something else, it isn’t about the ‘insomnia’.

What are some of the underlying reasons beneath sleep disorders?

There are many underlying reasons why people can’t sleep. They include circadian rhythm disruptions (such as jet lag and shift work irregular hours), illnesses, pain of any sort that keeps us from sleeping, age-related problems (such as the delayed sleep phase that teenagers experience), the side effect of some recreational and/or prescription medications, a racing mind at night when we just want it to ‘turn off with the lights”. And then there are emotions!

Emotional issues are a major factor behind sleep disorders. Have you ever experienced some of these emotional problems? You have low self esteem, you haven’t had a good day, someone spoke rudely to you, and you are now lying in bed exhausted, but replaying your problems over in your head, feeling lonely and helpless?

Examples of Emotional Situations Affecting Sleep

Your child is sick, you’re worried whether to take her to the doctor tonight or tomorrow? What could be the problem? How serious might it be? Have I left it too long? Should I get her out of bed and go there now? Worry.

You’re anxious and stressed about an important meeting tomorrow where you have to present a paper. The longer you lie in bed the worse it gets. You’re thinking “I have to perform at my best tomorrow and I can’t even sleep”! You’re feeling really bad, and the anxiety is effecting even how well you feel. If you don’t get a great night’s sleep, you know it’s going to affect your anxiety tomorrow, too.

One of your friends or relations has died recently, it has been very sad. You’re dealing with the sadness, you’re waking too early in the morning and can’t go back to sleep. You just feel low, it mightn’t be depression, but you are grieving.

What Do You Do When You Are Emotional?

Most of us can relate to these emotional issues that affect our sleep. How many of us are actually doing something about them? Are we just toughing-it-out (which is more likely in men, apparently) or are we seeking out help to deal with our emotional problems? Do we have friends we can go to and ask for help? Do you feel better when you talk to someone? Do we think ‘talking it out’ is just a waste of time – it doesn’t make it any better? Do you increase your exercise levels to help relieve the stresses and anxieties? Have you tried deep breathing and other relaxation methods? Do you bury yourself in more work as a distraction? Avoid facing the problem? Where do YOU stand in this group? It is an important question, because most problems don’t ‘fix’ until you work on them. And avoiding problems doesn’t make them go away, does it?

Exercise, meditation and relaxation are very helpful for emotions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Some solutions are not difficult. And when we say exercise, it can be as simple as a walk nearly every day; you don’t have to pump out at the gym for hours to get some real benefits. Other ideas that can help with stress are a nap during the day – to separate you from your work routine, even for as little as 15 minutes at lunch time. Talking to someone can be a great help, and if you don’t want to talk to someone you know, then find a counselor who can help you. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), as its name suggests, is very helpful for some people to release emotions – and can involve simple tapping techniques on certain parts of our bodies. If anger is your emotion, maybe enlisting in boxing lessons might help? If you are feeling powerless, how about lifting weights to increase your muscles and power? Have you looked on the Food Intolerance network to ensure that your emotions aren’t being exaggerated by food additives and colorings that you are intolerant to?

Other aspects of our life that spill over to emotions include shame, guilt, frustration, ambition, pessimism, nostalgia, stubbornness, pensiveness, obsessive behavior, dishonesty, analysis paralysis (over thinking), impatience, gall, bitterness, irritability, hatred, envy, controlling, claustrophobia, suspicion, intolerance, skepticism, vacillation, erratic behavior, jealousy, indecision, resentment, remorse, hesitancy, fear, procrastination, coldness, hypersensitivity, suspicion and lack of humor. There are a lot, this isn’t all of them!

Remember also that everyone has some ‘rough’ times in their lives. Without trying to trivialize your situation (because I don’t know what it is), be aware that emotions are an important part of who we are, and need to be felt.

If you find that you have developed sleep disorders because of your emotions, then take action today to get some help, exercise, ring a professional who can help, or ask your friends for a suggestion. When you volunteer your vulnerabilities to people, you firstly might be surprised that they have felt a similar thing, and secondly, you might be surprised at the extent of their willingness to help you. The very best friendships are often made when people open up to each other.

A range of emotions are behind many sleep disorders, so release some of your frustration today by taking real action to reduce the emotional charge in your life. You’ll find that you’ll probably sleep better, and ironically, having slept better, feel a lot less emotional in the morning.

Do you fancy feeling enthusiastic and exhilarated instead?

Nicole Thomas

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