Realising A Sleepy Truth

Dear Audy,

I realised something early on Sunday morning. Very early. Somewhere between 3am and 5am. My great realisation is that I really have an inflated sense of attachment to sleep.


I subscribe to a lot of Buddhist concepts and ideals. It’s the most useful and practical method that I have found for understanding my feelings about my chronic pain and general situation. I don’t see Buddhism as a religion, it’s more like a guide through many possible paths to psychological freedom.

From a Buddhist perspective, suffering comes from attachment. People get attached to thoughts, feelings, places, routine…just about everything. When the attached feel like some other has interfered with what’s theirs, they get angry, upset, or whatever other feeling they have attached to disruption of something that they are attached to.

For example, if one is attached to a belief that their body should be completely free of pain, then any circumstances that do not result in this (such as every circumstance related to living with CRPS) can result in thoughts about how crappy life is. Attachment to those thoughts can result in feelings of sadness, and attachment to feelings of sadness can escalate them into chronic depression.

You’ll notice that no part of that dreadful, rippling cycle had anything to do with the actual pain.

I like this perspective, it presents a way out of suffering that doesn’t necessarily involve any physical healing at all. It has been my experience so far that changing my perspective also creates a ripple effect; a lovely positive one that has come to include less physical suffering to go along with a lowering of the mental kind.

With that in mind, we shall go back to the realisation that sparked this blog post. I am attached to sleep.

That sentence seems pretty obvious and necessary at first. People need sleep. Without sleep, they go crazy and then die. It makes sense that, as a person, I would be attached to this thing that we spend somewhere near a third of our lives doing in order to survive.

It makes sense, but that doesn’t mean that I need to succumb to this as an inherent source of suffering that I am at the mercy of forever.

What does attachment to sleep result in?

Suffering. Why?

“When the attached feel like some other has interfered with what’s theirs, they get angry, upset, or whatever other feeling they have attached to disruption of something that they are attached to”
– me, earlier in this post

It’s a point worth repeating.

There are about a bazillion things that can interfere with one getting a perfect night’s sleep. Chronic pain and chronic depression are two huge players. Within them are another gazillion or so factors that can interfere with sleep.

These conditions can also be exacerbated by a lack of sleep, strengthening the attachment and sense of need in getting some conceptualised perfect quota of rest.

I’m pretty sure this is what has happened to me.

I have gotten myself into a fairly effective sleeping routine involving medication, cutting out naps where possible, as well as regular bed times and wake times.

It’s not a perfect system though, it’s never going to be. I still have nights when it can be really tough to track that Sandman down.

I had trouble sleeping on Saturday night. After several hours of tossing and turning, I found myself getting upset, my thoughts turning to old anxiety cycles and my body responding by refusing to go to sleep with even more insistence.

It was rather frustrating…and then I realised that I was facing one of my deeper preconceptions about the way life should be. I actively began to watch my frustration, to break it down and try to understand it.

When I boil down to the results, it’s pretty simple matter that I’m looking at.

Lack of sleep has often led to me being in more pain. It’s led to me being more upset, more depressed, less able to cope with the day and it’s often gone on for so long that I feel like I’ll never catch up on it all. Thus, I fear this being repeated.

Never catch up on the sleep? What a silly thing to be afraid of. Just realising it was enough to squash that little beastie. When my body needs to, it will sleep, it doesn’t matter if it deviates from the schedule I had planned.

As for the rest of it: Fearing feeling sad, or confused, or overwhelmed is about the most effective way to bring those feelings into fruition.

Brains love routine. Like, love love. They love them so much that simply practising a thought pattern and following it through to an emotion makes the brain more likely to want to repeat that pattern. Thus, if one spends all of those insomnia riddled nights expecting to feel rotten and awful the next day, one is much more likely to do just that.

Going over the expectation in the mind builds a little network of connecting synapses that can later become like a giant concrete freeway for the negativity to dance along.

How can one demolish this freeway?

By tackling the attachment at the root of it. Now that I have gained some insight into my attachment to sleep, I will continue to work on understanding and releasing it, rather than reinforcing it. I’ll try to catch myself before I get upset, visualise the day ahead as going fine, see myself managing my pain and doing just as well as I could with a month’s worth of sleep under my belt.

Breaking down this attachment is going to be huge factor in getting me off the last of my medication; a goal that I am quite happily attached to.

I’m sure that I will wrestle with this concept, try to break it down further, ignore it at times and remember it at others…however, at least I’ve gotten a look at the face of the monster that I’m battling.

Love & Dancing BedBugs,

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  • 5 thoughts on “Realising A Sleepy Truth

    1. Melissa

      This was just the perfect message for me to read this morning after three nights in a row of less than 5 hours sleep, no matter what I tried. I have begun the morning feeling bereft, as if something that should have been mine has been taken from me. Not productive or conducive to me having the kind of day I need (and would like) to have. So I am going to take your advice and try to release those feelings of frustration. I’ll still be tired, but really, I can still make today work for me.

    2. Ross

      What a great post! I think your right when you say that the mind builds a bunch of tiny networks that just become one big highway of negativity. If you can manage to destroy the highway then you lead a much better life.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks, Ross! Sorry for the late reply, I am finally at the final destination of my moving houses adventure. It’s all catching up with me but I’m settling in. I hope that you are doing well and have been able to get around those odd virus warnings! x

    3. Rodrigo Valenzuela

      Life is full of ups and down and every human being has the capacity to fight with problems. We should always take our problems in a positive way and try to find the solution instead of running away from the problems. Dear Caf, you can also use meditation therapy, which will help you to come out from your problem.

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