Friday, June 7, 2013


I know that many of us find ourselves dealing with insomnia due to our IC and associated conditions. We either keep getting up to go to the bathroom, the pain is bothering us or both. Any way you look at it, many of us find ourselves up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. 

I have written before about using various coping techniques to deal with stress, pain, negative comments from others and more. But last night I decided to take my own advice. Sometimes it's difficult to relax and allow yourself to fall asleep because of all these issues we face. But one technique I often use that has worked for me is shutting off the television, shutting off the computer, dimming the lights and putting my headphones on and listening to music for awhile.

Last night I think I listened to music for nearly an hour. It is so relaxing. It inevitably takes my mind off things that are bothering me if I give it enough time. I find myself relaxing into the music and focusing on my breathing and allowing my body to respond accordingly. 

I realize it's not a magic trick that will take your pain or frequency away. But it is a coping technique, one of several, that I have worked on and found it HELPS! Science has studied this and if you practice certain techniques that make you happy, relaxed and takes the focus off the pain (or whatever the issue is), it causes different responses in your brain which can help ease pain.

I have even gotten out of bed on occasion when I've been tossing and turning and put on my music and just listened for however long it took for me to find myself falling asleep. At that point I get up and return to bed. Usually I will fall asleep and get at least several hours of good sleep before being awakened again. But going from basically being awake all night, to getting several hours at a time, may be a small victory, but to me it is a victory nonetheless. 

Of course, there are many things you can try. If you enjoy reading, pick up a book and read until you feel sleepy. The point it to do something that you enjoy, but that takes your mind off what is bothering you. This works. My therapist connected me with an online Cognitive Behavioral Sleep program and it truly worked wonders for me. A lot of the suggestions in that program are things like this. 

If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room and try something like the music, reading a book, meditation, deep breathing. There is a lot of information online about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep. Do some research if you're interested.

I can't take sleep medication so when my therapist suggested I give this a try, I thought what the heck. I have nothing to lose. I read the materials, practiced the recommended techniques and even though I still have pain and frequency, I found I was able to get to a point where I could fall asleep and if I did wake up again, I'd use the bathroom, practice my breathing and I began to be able to fall asleep in between the times I would get up. That was an improvement. 

Baby steps. It's not a miracle fix. But it is possible to effect some level of improvement and for me, that was better than nothing. 

I wish everyone a good night's sleep!

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