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Need Help! Sleep issues.

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Need Help! Sleep issues.
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8/24/19 7:08 AM
 Hi, I was practicing meditation from the TMI book and it was going all well in January, I was meditating around 2 hours every day and I even touched the first jhana and then I took a break and again began meditating in April and continued for 2 months. Then, I was hit with some pretty dark phase(This was when I started being mindful all day), having anxiety and felt very depressed, my sleep was ruined, and though I have overcome the depression but my sleep is a wreck. I have no problem falling asleep but I wake up many times and my sleep never gets complete. I am unable to meditate, always end up getting very drowsy by 30 mins mark. I can't overcome this dullness because it is actually due to lack of sleep, and I can't fall asleep(in the afternoon) no matter how drowsy I am! I have tried exercising but no luck! 

I am thinking of going to the doctor now. It is discouraging, I feel sleepy and tired after meditating, earlier my meditation was going so well!

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/24/19 8:55 AM as a reply to Yash.
Yash:
 Hi, I was practicing meditation from the TMI book and it was going all well in January, I was meditating around 2 hours every day and I even touched the first jhana and then I took a break and again began meditating in April and continued for 2 months. Then, I was hit with some pretty dark phase(This was when I started being mindful all day), having anxiety and felt very depressed, my sleep was ruined, and though I have overcome the depression but my sleep is a wreck. I have no problem falling asleep but I wake up many times and my sleep never gets complete. I am unable to meditate, always end up getting very drowsy by 30 mins mark. I can't overcome this dullness because it is actually due to lack of sleep, and I can't fall asleep(in the afternoon) no matter how drowsy I am! I have tried exercising but no luck! 

I am thinking of going to the doctor now. It is discouraging, I feel sleepy and tired after meditating, earlier my meditation was going so well!


Shinzen has a few points about sleeping. I am using what he suggests here, and it has almost solved the problem that I had with falling asleep for many years:

Sleep Interruption & A Good Night's Rest ~ Shinzen Young

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/24/19 8:55 AM as a reply to Yash.
I’m sorry you are going through this. It sounds tough. I don’t know if this would work for you, but have you tried doing some kind of bodily work such as Hatha yoga? For me I find that it balances my energy levels very well. I used to have chronic fatigue, and other forms of exercise only made me sick, but yoga really does the trick for me, and I find Hatha yoga to be the most stabilizing form. I’m thinking that it could possibly give you the energy for meditation while simultaneously having a positive effect on your sleep, or at least not make that part worse.

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/24/19 9:07 AM as a reply to Yash.
There was a thread Concentration and insomnia on this forum. Use the search to see the replies, my phone does not allow me to copy the link. 

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/24/19 11:33 AM as a reply to Yash.
[quote= I am unable to meditate, always end up getting very drowsy by 30 mins mark. I can't overcome this dullness because it is actually due to lack of sleep, and I can't fall asleep(in the afternoon) no matter how drowsy I am! I have tried exercising but no luck! ]
   I had some of these issues in the past two months. When falling asleep halfway through practice I would either just keep noting all that was going on (yawning, tired, angry, unhappy, wanting out, etc....) or I would get up and do walking practice and then go back to regular practice. I still have the sleep issue and I am sure mine is due to high concentration. I have started taking 5 mg of melatonin for another issue but it has helped my sleep some. Also the other night I realized that fighting it won't help so before I go to bed I recognize that I may not sleep that well and see it as ok for me if its due to trying to get free through these practices. I am not a doctor and not saying you should take anything. I am just saying what I am doing. Also my mind can do a real good job of holding me hostage, in that once I am in a cycle I like to stay in it good or bad. Remeber its a cycle and ALL things are impermanent. 

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/24/19 1:34 PM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
Siavash Mahmoudpour:
Yash:
Hi, I was practicing meditation from the TMI book and it was going all well in January, I was meditating around 2 hours every day and I even touched the first jhana and then I took a break and again began meditating in April and continued for 2 months. Then, I was hit with some pretty dark phase(This was when I started being mindful all day), having anxiety and felt very depressed, my sleep was ruined, and though I have overcome the depression but my sleep is a wreck. I have no problem falling asleep but I wake up many times and my sleep never gets complete. I am unable to meditate, always end up getting very drowsy by 30 mins mark. I can't overcome this dullness because it is actually due to lack of sleep, and I can't fall asleep(in the afternoon) no matter how drowsy I am! I have tried exercising but no luck! 

I am thinking of going to the doctor now. It is discouraging, I feel sleepy and tired after meditating, earlier my meditation was going so well!



Shinzen has a few points about sleeping. I am using what he suggests here, and it has almost solved the problem that I had with falling asleep for many years:

Sleep Interruption & A Good Night's Rest ~ Shinzen Young

Hello,

One doesn't fall asleep because energy stays up in the head, like it does in the waking state. When one is relaxed, and willing to let go of all practices and control, energy comes down to the throat and further down to the heart where it rests during sleep. The same happens in reverse order when waking up.

Learn to let go of control. Don't use any meditation techniques, nothing that requires mental effort and "just let the waves take you". If you can do that, you'll fall asleep. Also, learning how to bring excess energy from the head down to the belly, legs or feet is very useful. You do that simply by keeping your focus gently in the gut, in legs or the bottom of feet. Visualising black dots at the balls of feet works well.

Doing straining physical exercise will also release and spread an accrual of energy into the body. Massage does the same thing.

Shinzen's video is OK but a 7 minute video is necessarily limited on any topic. Like he says, it is common for senior practitioners to try to remain aware throughout the night but I would never recommend this for beginners, i.e. possibly for several years in the beginning of practice. Reason for this is that not getting sleep, while still needing it, is a recipe for not only increased stress and fatigue but can also affect one's life, work/study and relationships in harmful way. Not getting sleep for an extended period of time while taking care of full time work or study can easily end up in burn out that can last for years. Health is not something you want to play with. It is not spoken enough about but hardcore meditators have their own professional diseases because the body just cannot cope with endless strain. On the other hand, for someone who leads a stress- and responsibility-free life, with a lot of time to rest, trying what Shinzen suggests is not as problematic.

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/24/19 2:02 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hi Kim,
Thanks for the info, I'll try what you suggested.

About what Shinzen suggests there, I am a beginner, it's two years that I am practicing, and I have a relatively stressful life. I started his suggestion more than a year ago, and it helped. I would stay in bed for hours and not fall asleep, ranging from 1-4 hours, but since I started that, I can fall asleep in about 10-30 minutes. It's simple, you just relax the body, try to not move much, and implement a technique. However I should mention that some techniques work better for falling asleep. For instance, when I was doing Shinzen's Auto Think technique while in bed, it would take longer to fall asleep, but I had more awareness during sleep, and I had more symbolic dreams, but when doing practices on body, like focusing on breathing sensations, or sensations of relaxation, it would take shorter to fall asleep.

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/25/19 2:52 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
...It is not spoken enough about but hardcore meditators have their own professional diseases because the body just cannot cope with endless strain...
Could you elaborate on this? Are you aware of any specific cases of advanced meditators getting unknown diseases? This sounds like it would be a big deal for the meditation community if true.

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/25/19 2:55 PM as a reply to Katz Videos.
I have heard Culadasa describe how he got very ill before even allowing himself to realize it. It was too easy to bypass it.

RE: Need Help! Sleep issues.
Answer
8/25/19 10:38 PM as a reply to Yash.
I've had similar problems and I've found Shinzen's suggestions helpful. Most advice on insomnia is to get up and do something else, read, browse the Internet with blue light filter turned on, etc.  Shinzen says that staying in bed and not thrashing around gets you a certain amount of rest even if you are not sleeping.

But what really helps for me is 3-10 mg. of melatonin about an hour before I go to bed. With that, I am out, somtimes until the next morning. Melatonin is the sleep hormone the body produces naturally when it is time to go to sleep. If you don't have enough of it, you get insomnia. Jet travel can disrupt it (it gets produced at the wrong time until your biological clock resets). In my last job, I had to commute to Europe about every 1-3 months (please, no flight shaming, it was one reason I quit the job) but I rarely had jet lag. Also older people tend to produce less and so have a harder time sleeping, and blue light from a cell phone or laptop screen tends to shut production down because it mimics the outdoor day sky. So don't look at your cellphone for an hour or so before you go to bed.

However, if you've never taken melatonin before, you should proceed cautiously. There are some people who get really terrible nightmares from it. A friend of mine has this problem. In addition, it tends to elevate glucose levels slightly, as a protection against hypoglycemia, because the body basically goes without food for 8 hours while you are asleep. So if you are diabetic or prediabetic, best to talk with your doctor. For this reason, melatonin is not available in Europe without a prescription, though you can buy it over the counter at any drugstore or health food store in the US.

If melatonin doesn't work, as rarely is the case for me, I have in the past used Benadryl (diphenhydramine), which is available over the counter in the US for allergies and in Europe as a nonprescripton sleep aid. But you really want to be careful with it, some recent studies have shown that it can lead to dementia if taken regularly for more than 3 years. I tyically won't use Benadryl unless I've not been able to sleep at all for a few nights straight, and lately have been trying to avoid it completely as the science seems to indicate it can be problematical.

Hope that helps.