Some Yogic Advice for the Insomniac

Insomnia is something that I am very familiar with.  At some points in my life, it has become so debilitating, that I have gotten into car accidents, suffered from poor work performance and even issues in personal relationships.  Insomnia is an insidious beast that works its way into our lives and wraps its tentacles around every aspect we hold dear.  Insomnia was the major reason why I got into Yoga in the first place.  I sleep better now than I did in the past, but I still have some issues.

So why can't people sleep?  It's a complicated relationship we have with ourselves and how we expect things to occur.  Ironically, my biggest issue with sleeping was the fear of not sleeping.  Staying up and watching the clock, counting the hours that I may be able to get and how if I got just enough, I would be able to function the next day.  The effects of insomnia would work their way into the next day, affecting my alertness, thus causing more mistakes and upping the anxiety the next night,  It's like a morbid hamster wheal.  In came modern medicine with a slew of addictive sleeping aids, which only work for about a week.  These sleep aid generally suppress REM sleep and do not allow the brain to heal from the stresses of the day.

So, really, what to do?  First, we have to accept that the modern work world has made it very difficult to balance work and life.  In IT, many of us are expected to be at the beckon of our cells phones in case there are issues with computer systems.  We sacrifice our personal lives so that the line between work and home become greyer and most are not even compensated with overtime.  People are increasingly bringing work home from the office, which does not help our situations.  If we are to start getting rest as insomniacs, we have to set our boundaries and live with the consequences. 

I'm not going to go over all the sleep environment stuff.  I figure you have already changed your mattress, lighting, timing of sleep and other factors.  I want to focus specifically on the root causes of insomnia which are the racing mind and fear of not sleeping.  Stopping a racing mind takes practice.  If you are going to be awake, you might as well meditate.  You do not have to be sitting to meditate.  As you lie in bed, you can work on becoming a passive observer of your thoughts.  Detaching yourself from your thoughts is the second major step a Yogi takes on the path toward enlightenment, second only to the intent to do Yoga.  The fear of not sleeping can be relieved by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  There are self help books that guide you through programs, mainly focused on challenging negative thoughts and internal dialogue.  The next helpful thing is Yoga Nidra.  This practice is very in depth, and can be used alone as a Yoga Routine.  The nice thing about it is that it's practiced while laying down.  If you are going to be there for hours anyway, you might as well make the best of your time. is THE best resource on the net for in depth Yoga practice. 

This article

is long, but it explains Yoga Nidra in more detail then you would ever need.  Take time to read it and absorb it.

I hope some of the information I have given you helps a little.  It's not the easy way out.  You may have to sacrifice a higher standard of living in order to live a more peaceful life resulting in more restful sleep.  Really, though, how good is life if you are not in a state of mind to enjoy it?