You know that voice in your head that only seems to pop up as you close your eyes and rest your head to sleep? That small amount of anxiety that only seems to surface when you’re trying to end the day? That’s, what I call, a Sleep Demon. It’s like a sinister and malevolent version of your voice and if you allow it, it will manifest into a presence that sits heavy on your chest. In times of stress or fatigue, it becomes a regular visitor. It’s so familiar, you expect it. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how much you have looked forward to getting some much-needed shut eye *poof* there it is.

How it starts…

It might creep in with something innocent like “Did you put the bins out?” Yep, green. I remember. “Did you lock the front door?” Yes, I locked it after I got home. “That’s good because imagine what could happen if you didn’t…” I shut my eyes and try to think of something else. “Robber, murderer, rapist, you might even come down stairs in the morning to a drunk homeless man asleep on the sofa. He might get violent. He might have a knife” The door is locked, go to sleep.

bugs bunny with insomnia

The worst part is, it’s apart of you so it knows your darkest secrets, it knows what it most important to you and it knows your weaknesses. “Is the baby asleep?” Yes, so I can relax now. “Are you sure she’s asleep? Are you sure she’s breathing?” I check. Yes, she is. “Imagine if she wasn’t?” No. Think about something else. We’re going to take her swimming next week, that’ll be fun. “Hope she doesn’t drown”. She won’t! I will be there. “What if someone takes her away from you?” I crumble. You win.

And it snowballs…

After a while, it just punches me in the gut, gives me an upper hook at the sound of the bell. Doesn’t bother easing me in, just goes for the knock out. “What are you doing with your life? You’re broke. What if you never make it? What if you have to go back to doing jobs that you hate and you spiral into depression again? You can’t do anything right.” Then, I find myself laying there, the monster on my chest, unable to breathe in the darkness. Paralysed. Wide awake. Suffocating. Feeling like I have been buried alive in the place I should feel at peace and revitalised.

A hand reaching out of soil.

How to push a sleep demon away…

Positivity

Demons hate it. Try to picture a ball of white light coming out of your chest and slowly expanding until you are surrounded by the light and then expanding further until it fills the entire room. Alternatively, try to picture the chaos inside your head like a messy room. Then clear the chaos until you can see an empty white room.

Focus on your breathing

Try to deepen your breathing, in and out through your nose. Notice where you are breathing: your chest, your stomach or diaphragm. Try to take deep breaths from your stomach and in a slow, rhythmic pattern. In for 2 and out for 4. Imagine waves retracting from the beach with every inhale and then them gently washing up on the sand with every exhale.

Further Help

If you need something stronger, I highly recommend reading. In books, we can find escape and it allows you to focus on something outside of your head. Not only that but it will give you something to think about after you’ve closed the book. I always find it takes no more than 2 chapters to make me sleepy enough to drift off, uninterrupted by sleep demons. Check out my post Best Bedside Books to see what books I reach for in the night and help me settle my uneasy mind.

Bedside books I read when I can't sleep

If books aren’t your thing, then I highly recommend the Headspace app. It has a feature called ‘Sleepcasts’ which I find extremely helpful. It’s like someone reading you a story with added ambiance and it allows you to alter your experience, making it more ambiance or voice prominent. I talked more about it in my post 10 Ways To Do Self Care at Home.

Headspace app

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach to improving your wellbeing, then I highly suggest you check out: https://www.mindpanda.com/
They have multiple products designed to help you practice mindfulness on the go, anytime, anywhere and away from all distractions. Helping you achieve a healthier, happier and well-balanced lifestyle. They produce products such as stress balls and mindfulness cards and are currently offering 15% off your first order and free shipping!

I hope this helps keep your sleep demon at bay. If you need more help with your sleep then I recommend visiting Sleep Hubs. Click here for the SleepHubs Check-Up. In 1 minute it can assess your sleep and determine your risk level of insomnia. From there, they can offer all kinds of solutions specific to your needs. Everything from a pre-bedtime routine, a mattress topper or even Cognitive Behavioural Therapy courses for insomnia.
Click here for the 1 minute check up completely free.

Happy sleeping!

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