October 10, 2012

Insomnia, Insomnia

Lately, I keep on waking up late in the morning no matter how early I sleep the night before. Somehow it seems as if my sleeping hours have increased. And the fact that I've quit my gym membership (hence less exercise hence less energy expenditure) doesn't really justify this extended hibernation mode.

Well honestly, I've never really had trouble sleeping and going off to the dreamland. Except perhaps the occasional cycle of maxed-up anxiety score during assignment submission/final exams. College years.. ah.. how wonderful it is to know it's all in the past. But yeah, I think being a temporary insomniac is really a great experience. It helps me realise how important a peaceful sleep is.

I've seen and personally known many people who are really insomniac. It's quite interesting to gather all the stories, listen to their reasonings, explanations, and see their coping mechanism.

- One person told me that if she drinks coffee during dinner time, she's gonna stay awake till 2-3 am. Even drinking chinese tea can give her similar effect. So she decides to opt out consuming anything involving caffeine (mostly coffee), tannin (mostly tea) for dinner.

- Another person told me that sometimes she found herself so restless on the bed for whatever reason unknown to her consciousness. She can close her eyes trying to sleep for 1-2 hours but still to no avail. When she gets really frustrated because she needs the sleeping hours, she'll resort to sleeping pill.

- A businesswoman told me that her mind is so active, that even during the night she have trouble trying to stop her chain of thoughts. When she's on the bed, her mind still races on the business mode and she can't switch it off. She then tries the pill as well.

- A male coworker shared that he really needs to stop drinking alcohol, because he thinks he's a borderline alcoholic now. He experiences trouble falling asleep at night so he drinks regularly, only for the sake of sleeping. Half a glass turns to one-two glass of whiskey each night, not mentioning his drinks on the off-office hours (with clients, etc). He mentioned that increased workload may be his insomnia's major culprit.

And many more.

My bible reading in the past few weeks is on the book of Proverbs - the old sayings of the kings and the wise men. It's 31 chapters fully packed with teachings and life wisdom, applicable to both Christian and non-Christian. Apparently, some proverbs strike me to the heart and stays within my thoughts. So I've been pondering about this for quite a while now.

Why do people become insomniac? As a psychology graduate, I've learnt that some sleeping disorder cases stem purely from the physical cause. Some stuffs such as alcohol, drugs, caffeine, or other chemicals can alter the body's metabolism and it really depends on the individuals. For example, some people are really caffeine sensitive, while some are okay with midnight coffee (me). Some people can't sleep within 2-3 hours of dinner time, while some sleep easier after a meal (me). In general, this group of insomniac will be fine once they alter their diet.

Then, some people also got insomnia because of their irregular sleeping habit. For example, those who work or do activities that require high mental stimulation on the resting area (bed), frequent partygoers (start at pm and finish at am), travellers who go through many different timezones, and other activities that alter the body's natural clock (Circadian rhythm). This group can do behavioral therapy (with psychologist or on their own) to set the body's clock back to normal. We can do simple things such as using our resting area exclusively for resting purpose, as the name implies. Don't do anything heavy on the bed. Associate your bed with a good night sleep. Try to sleep and wake up at a regular hour, etc.

The most difficult issue is when the insomnia is caused by something else other than physical or behavioral - mental issues. By mental I don't mean wacko. It's cognitive issue, what's going on inside the person's mind - or as psychologically coined, the subconsciousness. I know that some people really have trouble sleeping because of this. I myself experienced this in my college years.

During those extremely tensed moments, I feel so anxious and when I lay on the bed, my body is resting but my mind wanders off somewhere. I keep feeding my thoughts with worry and uncertainty about the future. I'm not at peace. Another time, I'll just feel heavy with no apparent reason. Life is okay, family is fine and friends are awesome, but somehow I feel so empty and I just can't bring myself to sleep. And once again, I know that I'm not at peace.

Have you ever felt that absence of peace? In the previous posts I've said that the first thing that attracts me the most to Christianity is the unwavering faith of the believers. For me, that reason alone is enough motivation to learn more about Christianity.

But there's a second major reason that propels me forward and believes that the Christian God is true. It's when I experience God for the first time in my life. I feel his peace flooding my heart, all over my body and entire existence. It's truly something wonderful I've never experienced before. It's the presence of absolute peace. An unquestionable, incomparable, immeasurable peace of mind.

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

John 14:27
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

John 16:33
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:6
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Numbers 6:24-26
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
  the Lord make his face shine on you
 and be gracious to you;
  the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Are you an insomniac? Cheer up! We all've been there once. Maybe try praying to Jesus? :)

Best of luck
Angelicia Ang