Can't sleep? Maybe you're using a chainsaw to hit a nail?
Updated: Oct 22
This blog is about using the right tool for the job- so not actually hitting a nail with a chainsaw because it doesn't really work.
This all came about after a chat with a fellow dog walker who, I found after 2 years of briefly chatting in the park about dogs and children, was also a therapist and had a passion for N.L.P. (On a positive level I can say that I don't take my work with me everywhere!)
We met for a socially distanced coffee and began chatting about worry and how it can take such a tight grip of us. (See a previous blog of mine on How to Worry)
In the middle of the night all logic and reason seems to leave us and we find problems, worries and concerns, amplified and magnified to way beyond their actual size.
We went on to discuss brain two important brain parts and their functions: The amygdala and the frontal lobe.
This a small almond shaped part of the brain that can be found right in the middle and is responsible for our emotions, including fear and worry. It gets the body ready for fight or flight and stimulates the adrenaline glands. As a consequence we can find our breathing is heavy and rushed, our palms sweat and our heart races. If we were facing a sabre toothed tiger it would help us run faster.
The frontal lobe (or cortex)
This is the rational part of our brain, responsible for making a plan and taking stock. it looks at the information in front of it and decides what to do. In short the part of the brain we need to use in the middle of night when we are plagued with worry and can't sleep.
So in fact the worry is being created with one part of the brain and ideally dealt with by another part.
Try telling yourself that in the middle of the night.
It's not easy is it? Because in the middle of the night all logic and reason seems to leave us and we find problems, worries and concerns, amplified and magnified to way beyond their actual size.
Quite a lot of what is happening is replay. The same thought goes round and round and there is no exit for it. Each time it replays it can change slightly and take on a different (often more threatening) tone.
Add shallow but heavy breathing* into the mix and there you have it. The perfect recipe for no sleep and an unsolved worry.
(*Noisy and heavy but only coming from the upper chest.)
So what to do? We all experience worry at some time or other in our life, so how do we sleep and deal with it in logical way?
If you're a visual person imagine your head and the two separate parts. Look at the worrying part busying itself, churning things over and getting into a right froth.
Acknowledge it. It's there to protect us from danger.
Are you in danger? Then act!
Or are you chasing a thought around in here and noticing it grow?
Look at the front part of the brain. It makes lists. Comes up with plans. It's organised. Logical and careful and will know what to do.
What does it need you to do now? Get up? Write it down? Or ask you to sleep and restore your energy for when you can deal with it?
If it's a voice you need to hear whose voice is it? A comforting parent? A wise teacher or guru or friend? What would they be telling you to do now?
Or do you need to touch or tap the front part of your head, engage it and ask it to take the right action now?
All of the above may bring some rest and relief from worry. But if you are finding it hard to deal with do get in touch. I can help you find your personally tailored method.