Mindfulness can be an extremely powerful tool for treating insomnia. In my last post I talked about reducing sympathetic activation (flight or fight). In this post I’ll focus on facilitating parasympathetic activity (rest and digest). Mindfulness can sound complicated and fancy but at its core it is very simple, it is about observation and inquiry. Mindfulness works because it makes us more self aware so that rather than operating reflexively, we:
1️⃣Stop the knee jerk response
2️⃣Inquire about the nature of our thoughts and reactions
3️⃣Reroute ourselves into a more productive direction
🧘🏻♀️Let’s apply this to insomnia. Let’s say I’m in bed and I notice I’m not falling asleep.
1️⃣I notice I’m becoming frustrated that I’m not falling asleep.
2️⃣I inquire whether ruminating in that thought is likely to facilitate sleep.
3️⃣I remind myself sleep cannot be forced and instead focus on how it is relaxing to rest and practice some diaphragmatic breathing.
4️⃣If I catch myself worrying about not sleeping again I simply repeat these steps.
Mindfulness is a practice and it allows us to learn to become less reactive, tuning down the flight or flight and choosing more productive ways to respond when we experience negative emotions.
What have you heard about mindfulness?