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Waiting for Sleep: Did Insomnia Prepare You for This?

Here’s How Waiting for Sleep May Have Given You Some Great Tools

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Portrait of confident serious young European female sitting on chair in waiting room with electronic tablet, setting her mind up before job interview or meeting with potential business partners

Waiting. So much of the discomfort of this time period, of these circumstances comes down to the waiting. And it reminds me of waiting for sleep to come.

What are we waiting for now? To be allowed to go back out? Go back to work? To have the other shoe drop? Get sick? Feel safe? Socialize again? Have normalcy?

As a therapist, when we began to shelter in place I expected my clients to have a lot of feelings about the threat of covid-19. I expected anxiety or fear or people feeling isolated or stir crazy.

It took me by surprise, for some reason, that everyone’s core issues, underlying constellations got activated.

Mostly, I personally have looked at all of this from a place of curiosity about how we all deal with unprecedented circumstances. I tend to have a belief that even the worst things present opportunities for strength and wisdom. The phoenix rises from the ashes at the end of it all.

Along with this curiosity comes my sense of observation of others and of myself. As I notice that this global situation seems to activate everyone in core ways, how is this true for me? What issues come to the surface for us individually? How do we know when those triggers have come from personal or familial experiences and histories?

I have observed that many people seem bogged down by the waiting. Myself, I have periodically felt the same kind of melancholy that so many others seem to feel. Why? The Waiting. A sadness, a helplessness, a frustration with the waiting.

I wondered about the familiarity of it, not just for me but for so many of us. And then I remembered: Children often feel this way. I did.

Can you recall sitting in a class as a kid, waiting for the school day to be over so that you could play with a friend? Do you remember being in the middle of a great book or playing a game and having to stop so that you could go to sleep, your mind buzzing as you waited for the next day when you could pick it up again? Or recall getting through high school or college so that you could get on with your life and find your path, be an adult, have freedom?

Can you relate? Do you feel that amped up energy of drive to do something, to go somewhere, to make something happen. And we can not. We have to wait. We have to be uncomfortable. Or maybe, just maybe, we can learn to be a little more comfortable with our discomfort.

Perhaps we should change our the way we view the experience of being in limbo. Maybe something profound occurs while we wait. Could it be that the process of waiting provides us with certain gifts and opportunities that have incredible value that we haven’t previously realized?

Could it be that waiting actually provides us with a much needed time to Rest? Has waiting for sleep for so many nights actually taught you more than you think?

My waiting brings me hope. I see an alertness to a certainty of the shifts that happen as I “wait.” So much happened as we have stayed home and done “nothing.” How can doing “nothing” change everything? While I waited as a child, I also grew up. I learned things. So did you.

I sit with my clients and unpack many of those things. We try to parse out what they learned and what supports or undermines their current goals and ways of being.

All of this brings me to a place of asking myself and others:

What comes up for you during this time and what does it mean to you?

My grandmother used to tell me, “This too shall pass.” And it will. Of course it will. How then, do I use it for my benefit? How do I have it make me stronger?

For me, I choose to wonder about the experience of the waiting. Even the discomfort of it interests me.

I have focused so much of my work on helping people to sleep. I have observed that sleep disturbances often happen as a result of an overall lack of rest in our lives.

Part of the discomfort of insomnia comes from the urgent waiting for sleep.

Perhaps, I will learn something that can help more people when I “study” the discomfort we currently experience the process of waiting. The helplessness of this not knowing, of this waiting, might bring me insights about the suffering with insomnia and disturbed sleep.

I invite you to wonder about these things with me. Rather than judging them, can we be curious together? Can we learn together and become more comfortable even in the areas of discomfort? If we do this, I hope we can come out stronger and wiser. And perhaps, ultimately, we can all sleep a little better too.

This article also appears on www.drdyan.com on May 7, 2020

Featured image credit: Wayhome Studio for Adobe; Additional image credit: TheVisualsYouNeed for Adobe

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