Last night I watched a segment of Anderson Cooper on tv. Usually I do not watch any news, but it was on people taking prescription drugs so they can get to sleep. His doctor, Sanjay Gupta, said 8 million Americans take them for sleep and countless others take over-the-counter medications to help them sleep. Cooper said he takes a prescription drug to get to sleep and admitted he takes it with some wine. Gupta said that is a no-no. Cooper may have trouble sleeping because his mind is always racing, from one news story to the next. An over-active mind can keep us awake. I find that deep breathing and not thinking about problems, worries, or repressed emotions in bed help me to sleep. I sometimes also count backwards from 100 to 1 and fall asleep, maybe not the first time through, but the second. Some recent postings on sleep: (William) My name is William and I have been struggeling with back pain for years, I diagnosised myself after reading Dr. Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain" as having TMS. I began to apply the principles in the book and saw a reduction with 90% of my symptoms, I am also off all my medications now. I slept great at night, the first time in about 6 years, for several weeks. But I guess I have slipped or something because my back pain has returned at night. Help! I try to do several key things before I go to bed, reviewing key points of TMS, affirmation statements about sleep... but I am stuck. When I wake up I try telling my mind to "stop it" but it is difficutl to focus and process emotional issues when you are half awake. I believe, could be wrong, that at night my mind is thinking about various things and thus creating tension. (Walt) I try not to think of my repressed emotions when I’m in bed because they keep me awake. Think about them when you’re awake the next day. I sometimes find that if I can’t fall asleep, a combination of deep breathing and counting backwards from 100 to 1 gets me to sleep, although I may have to do it more than once. (Veronica) Hi William, I've had pain waking up, morning anxiety, and bad dreams. I think it's part of the whole TMS process. During sleep the unconscious mind is in control and it's not like you can do your affirmations in your sleep There was something really great about sleep/waking up in pain in the Frequently Asked Questions section of Dr. Schubiner's book--I think he says something about journaling before bed and then writing or saying I'm going to deal with this later it's not going to affect my sleep...and after a few weeks of that, sleep should improve. I don't have the book with me though so maybe someone else remembers it better. (Susan) I use the Schubiner insomnia protocol every night. It is in Chapter 12 of his book. He actually suggests listing out what you might be worried about in the night which is like journaling but my list pretty much stays the same. I keep a generic list by my bed and then instruct my mind I will deal with any problems in the morning. I also have written out what I expect during the night, like longer episodes of sleep than the night before, up less time at night, being pain free in the night and awakening with no pain. I read these instructions to myself before I lay down. I find I have been sleeping much better most nights. William, you might want to give this a try. It has taken about six weeks for these instructions to have a positive effect and worth the time to me. (Audrey Berdeski): Dr. Sarno's theory could be of good value in a situation like this. I'm going to assume that you've been checked by a Doctor to rule out physical causes of sleeplessness already. Your sleep problem could very well be caused by unconscious rage, just as physical pain can be. The key is to get into your unconscious mind through the journaling and writing exercises expose what is in your unconscious mind. Starting to think psychologically about the sleep problems, and talk to your unconscious mind, telling it that you know what it's doing and that your sleep problems are from the repressed rage. Also, a daily meditation or reflection period is important, so that you can take time to think each day about what it takes to get better. (Lisa Morophopoulos): Sounds like you need to quiet your mind, stop the monkey-mind. Commit to meditation 5-15 minutes each morning and/or evening - last thing before bed. The purpose of this practice is to quiet your mind and get close to yourself. Have an evening ritual. Start putting yourself to bed an hour before you'd like to be asleep to give yourself time to unwind. Stop doing anything work/task related. Just get ready for bed. When in bed, have a low light, a soft lamp and/or candle. Lie on your back and let your mind answer any nagging questions; keep a notebook for things to do tomorrow, if these thoughts bother you. Lie down, do not sit up, and read a book you enjoy. Take time out to ponder if your mind wonders, then return to your reading. Keep the light on until your eyes get heavy. If you wake during the night, consider that this is time that you need to be close to yourself. Ask yourself what you need, what's concerning you. Reassure yourself that things will ultimately work out. Tell yourself that as long as you're resting, you'll be OK tomorrow. Work with your therapist on what bedtime was like growing up: Who put you to bed? What was that time like? Did you feel safe or were you afraid of the dark? What kind of reoccurring childhood dreams/nightmares did you have? What did you do when you woke up? Did you go to mom and dad? Did they comfort you? And so on... MEDITATION Set an alarm for 15 minutes. Sit cross-legged on floor facing a wall. Wedge a flat pillow, or a rolled up blanket under your seat to support you. Place hands on knees. Keep eyes open, or closed. Breathe naturally. You may be tempted to control your breath. Try, though, to let your breath just happen. With a gentle effort on the inhale, the exhale is an automatic release. Follow your breath. Notice the beginning, middle, and end of the breath. Feel the inner lining of the breath. As you focus on your breath, your attention will wander. Next thing you know, you're in a trance, somewhere else. You may be thinking of a situation or a task. Tell yourself that you can solve the problem later and return to your breath. Keep doing this. Notice how your mind wanders, like a baby waddling away, and retrieve it. You may think that nothing is happening, that you're not doing it right, or that you're not doing a very good job at it. That's fine, just keep doing it. You may find this boring or tedious. Engaging in the struggle is what makes this work. You will experience the benefits later. Your mind will be clear, you will feel good, and solutions will easily pop into your head from your unconscious. Five Tips to Sleep Better Tonight Try to go to bed the same time every nightPick a time when you generally begin to get tired and try to stick to it regardless of outside circumstances, including holidays and special occasions. Only use your bed for sleepYour body needs to know that when you are lying in bed it is time for sleep. If you do all sorts of tasks in bed, including watching TV, checking email, playing games on an iPad or any number of other examples, your body does not instinctively sense that bedtime is sleep time. Make your bedroom comfortable for sleepPeople sleep best at 65 degree Fahrenheit, with as little light as possible and with stable background noise. If you are woken up by noises in your home, try white noise near your bed. Keep your stress levels under controlNighttime is not the time to go through a list of your worries and concerns. It is a time for relaxation, whether yoga, breathing techniques or sex help you relax, you should try to find a way to do so. Eat right, all day and especially before bedCaffeine can affect you up to 12 hours after it is consumed. Sugar and alcohol before bed are also a bad idea. And try not to let little things bother you.