I have an embarrassing confession: every time I’m single I have insomnia.
Falling asleep has never been easy for me, but when I’m single it’s so much worse. Instead of being able to focus on the person lying next to me, I’m left alone with my thoughts.
For a lot of us, bedtime is when our minds decide to remind us of every worry, every task, every mistake. As someone with anxiety and OCD, I especially dread these hours.
Four years ago my insomnia was at its worst. I found a therapist who gave me several tools I still use to this day. Instead of lying in bed for hours trying to sleep, she encouraged me to get up and do an activity. So much of my late night anxiety was secondary anxiety, anxiety about the anxiety. I was anxious that my anxious brain would make sleep impossible. Placing less importance on the act of falling asleep allowed it to actually happen.
I also started meditating.
My sleeping improved. I still had to listen to music, but it improved. And then I met my ex and it really improved. After a few months I started needing music again, but throughout most of our relationship I slept pretty well.
This summer I realized that my insomnia had returned with intensity. I was waking up multiple times throughout the night and usually around 5 or 6 in the morning I’d give up trying to go back to sleep and just start my day.
By the afternoon I felt exhausted.
The last few weeks I’ve been really trying to create better habits around sleep. I know the actual magic cure would be if I started meditating again but I’m struggling to get back into that. For now, I’ve set new rules around my sleep enemy number one: my phone.
When I’m getting close to going to sleep I queue up whatever music I’m going to listen to and then plug my phone in away from my bed. Then I’ll spend some time writing or reading. Right before turning off my light I’ll click play on the music but try not to glance at any notifications.
And then when I wake up, I resist the temptation to go over to my phone. In fact, even when I’m actually waking up to start my day I’ve tried to make my first activity reading a book even if it’s only for ten minutes.
I can already feel my sleep improving tremendously. Turns out a phone filled with the nightmares of the world, not to mention interpersonal stresses, is not great at reducing anxiety and inducing sleep.
I’d love to get to a place where I don’t need music to sleep when I’m alone. But until then here are the artists I turn to most: King Princess, Solange, Adult Mom, Vivek Shraya, Lady Lamb, Wafia, and a playlist I made that’s Mitski’s “Two Slow Dancers” repeated ten times.
What about you?? Do you struggle with insomnia? How do you work through it? Or, just generally, do you have a routine around sleep? What are the last things you do before going to sleep and the first things you do upon waking up?
Also if you have suggestions for good sleep music please share!
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