The Elusive Sleep

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What causes insomnia?  One cause is sleep apnea, in which the sleeper suddenly stops breathing.  The breathing stoppage may be occasional, only once or twice during a given night, or it can be frequent so that the person hardly sleeps at all.  As may as 900 brief breathing stoppages have been recorded per night.

With sleep apnea, the person sleeping may partially awaken.  If this takes place often, the sleep pattern may be disturbed seriously enough that the person awakens the next morning with no conscious knowledge of having ever been awake, but feeling as tired as if he had not slept at all.he

Other physical causes of insomnia include respiratory problems with high fever, asthma, emphysema, colds, phlegm in the throat, and bronchial throat infections.  Discomfort of any type can be a major cause of sleeplessness, also temperature that is too hot or cold, a bed that is too hard, too soft, or too lumpy, too much noise (the loud party being thrown next door, machinery that does not run quietly), or being away from home in a strange bed.  Too much light keeps some people awake.  Prisoners complain of being inhumanely treated when forced to stay in a cell where lights are kept on 24 hours a day.

Nerves often keep people from resting well.  Some complain, “I’m too tired to sleep!”  They are telling the truth!  They have overworked to the point that they cannot relax.

Having a lot to do and not enough time to do it runs a close second in causing wakefulness.  The biggest task I had left undone was the laundry, but I didn’t rest well because I was washing clothes all night in my dreams.

A guilty conscience can drive sleep away.  Were we unkind to someone during the day?  Did we do something that we now regret?  The best way to restore one’s sense of tranquility is to rectify such a situation as far as is humanly possible.

Many people can’t sleep because they worry they can’t sleep.  Their battle with insomnia becomes a vicious, never-ending circle.  Chronic worries are most likely to resort to ever stronger pills.

Ironically, many of these same individuals gulp coffee the next day to stay awake.  The sleeping pills they took before may be beginning to act at rising time.  These same people then wonder why they feel so rotten.

Creative individuals may find slumber elusive because they can’t stop their thinking process.  I have found this to be true when inspired to write or compose music.  If I have a story, poem, or melody in mind, I cannot rest until I have the idea draft is on paper or saved in my computer.  If for any reason I awaken during the night, I cannot sleep until I have jotted the ideas down.

When kept awake by some reason other than music or writing, I meditate.  Try to just be still – not only physically silent, but also in an emotional and mental way.  Peace from within manifests physically.

One thing is certain, you will eventually fall asleep, it’s just a matter of whether it’s going to happen sooner or later.


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