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Mar 30, 2017

How Restful Insomnia Came to Be

 

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- See more at: http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/about/#sthash.20La0KMj.dpuf

Hi, sleepyheads! Sondra here — sharing a bit about how Restful Insomnia came to be. - See more at: http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/about/#sthash.20La0KMj.dpuf

Here’s the short version: I had a long, long bout of chronic insomnia, and nothing I tried helped. So instead of agonizing over not sleeping, I decided to use the hours to just be with myself. And that not only reduced stress, to my surprise it also led to rest and productive days. From there, I went on a search to discover more ways to attract rest. This delightful journey turned into the Restful Insomnia program.

And the longer version….

Insomnia and me

For most of my life, I struggled with insomnia just when I had PMS or had one of my anxiety spirals. Not fun, there were just a few bad nights in a row before I'd go back to pretty good nights.

I was lucky enough to not really think too much about insomnia, until…I started to be absolutely wide awake in the middle of the night.

  • No PMS
  • No menopause
  • No coffee
  • No extra anxiety (other than what arose from not sleeping)

Just awake for most nights of the week, for weeks and weeks. And months.

I tried just about everything. I didn’t want to take sleep medicines — I was already on an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication and heard of weird side effects from them. But I did else everything I could find. From the usual (no coffee, sleep hygiene, herbal teas and tinctures, over the counter pills) to the unusual (acupuncture based on what time I woke up, homeopathy).

And when that didn’t work (it didn’t), I did all the usual and unusual things when I couldn’t sleep. From relaxation exercises, reading, getting something done, and forcing myself to keep my eyes open until I had to close them, and hopefully sleep.

No matter what, I kept on having chronic insomnia at night, so most days I was just plain fried.

Life at the time

This was about 15 years ago, when I had two small kids and a husband with a chronic illness. He also seemed to have rapid body movement disorder. That’s like having occasional sleep twitches – people often have them when falling asleep — but for about 15-20 minutes, at various times during the night. The sleeper doesn’t necessarily notice, but believe me, the bed partner does.

Before my chronic insomnia, I’d generally be able to fall back asleep afterwards. Not the perfect night, but good enough.

- See more at: http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/about/#sthash.20La0KMj.dpuf

But during my rash of insomnia, I just couldn’t let it go. My cue to be up for hours.

And whether he twitched or not, I suffered at night anyway. I was a space cadet and anxious and cranky and exhausted during the day. For months and months.

I grieved not having sleep. Shock and denial (thinking it was no big deal), anger (at my jumpy husband and everything else), bargaining (“Maybe if I get the house in perfect shape, I’ll be able to sleep”), and depression. No need to explain that.

And finally acceptance. But that didn’t come at first in the middle of the night. It came in the middle of the day.



Acceptance

- See more at: http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/about/#sthash.20La0KMj.dpuf

My days were hectic with two small kids – I didn’t feel I had any time to myself. And I wanted to have some space to change how I dealt with ongoing anxiety and self-criticism. I’ve been a personal growth aficionado my adult life, trying (and eventually succeeding) in changing my emotions and thoughts that were painful to live with. - See more at: http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/about/#sthash.20La0KMj.dpuf

So in the park one day with my daughter—I can quite clearly see the sycamore tree I was staring out at when the idea arose—I realized this.

I didn’t have time during the day. But I sure did at night. Most every night. Those hours when I was: Just. Plain. Awake. No matter what.

Hours to explore who I was in a new way. To work on noticing my feelings instead of reacting to them. To notice what I was thinking, instead of believing everything I thought was true. To experience being in my body, because I lived in my mind and dragged my body around as an after-thought.

Birth of Restful Insomnia

 

That night, I tried using my waking hours that way. It was a gift to myself, and one with an amazing bonus. I started to deeply rest. You might know it. That:

  • Deep body relaxation
  • Not caring about what I thought or felt
  • Sleep-like, undirected, kinda weird day dreaming

I wasn’t asleep – I knew I was in my bed and could easily check the clock or do something. If I wanted. But I didn’t want to.

Sometimes being in deep rest helped me fall back asleep sooner. But even if it didn’t, I was content to spend my insomnia resting.

On top of reducing the stress of insomnia, I was delighted and surprised to find another gift the next day: I was less spacey, less cranky, and more productive.



Deep rest is awesome

“Hmmm,” I thought. “This deep rest is really cool.”

I wondered what helps me rest, and what gets in its way? That became the basis for my explorations during my wakeful hours. And I had plenty of nights to explore….

Once I figured how to consciously move into rest, and tools to get there, Restful Insomnia was born.

What I bring to create and continue to develop Restful Insomnia?

My lifelong background in personal growth came in handy in developing Restful Insomnia techniques. I used what I had learned and developed a variety of methods to descend into rest. Things like:

  • Taking yoga for the last 20 years
  • Studying and practicing meditation, including retreats with Sharon Salzburg and Robert Beatty
  • Becoming certified in NLP
  • Studying hypnosis
  • Completing the Paradox Management Wisdom School
  • Learning hands-on healing with Reiki training

As more people became interested in the program, my books on Restful Insomnia and other health titles were published by Conari Press.

To write those, I developed skills in science writing and research—which ended up validating the approach of Restful Insomnia. I also learned coaching skills, so I could connect more deeply with clients.

  • Completed life coach training at the renowned Coaches Training Institute
  • Completed studies at the American Medical Writers’ Association

I also taught the program at various locations and did workshops for patients of sleep doctors. Those physicians agreed with Restful Insomnia's foundation: that learning to rest is key to renewal.


Restful Insomnia continues to evolve

My insomnia doesn’t bother me anymore.
When it arises (and it still does!), I know how to relax and renew.

Whether I’m awake when I don’t want to be from too much chocolate, anxiety, anger, or whatever the cause, I can refocus on rest.

I start with my favorite techniques, and move to another if I’m still in my alert mode. Would I rather sleep through the night? Sure—sleep is fabulous. That doesn’t mean that insomnia is horrible, though.

I continue to pay attention to new things that keep me awake (like the flu) and new ways to bring myself—and my clients—back to rest. Which helps Restful Insomnia continue to evolve.

My days

After years of working in health writing, I now am fully devoted to sharing Restful Insomnia, to help reduce the epidemic of suffering during sleepless nights.

My young kids are now grown. Whew! So aside from helping Restful Insomnia reach more people, I also walk, do yoga, meditate, and take classes and workshops in things like ukulele, electric bass, and improvisational theater.

But every single night, as I set off to sleep, I do a simple Restful Insomnia technique to let go and enjoy the night.

 

- See more at: http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/about/#sthash.20La0KMj.dpuf

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