Insomnia and Social Anxiety

Insomnia2002Poster

I used to suffer from occasional insomnia. Especially on nights before a big event I was nervous about, like my first day at school or a big trip. I would get in bed early so I’d be fresh and rested for the big day. I’d lay down and close my eyes, but I couldn’t fall asleep. My mind was racing. I couldn’t stop thinking.What will this new school be like? Will I make any new friends? Will I still be shy? I didn’t realize at the time that my insomnia was related to my social anxiety.

When I started taking antidepressants, one benefit I immediately noticed was how much easier I fell asleep. No more racing thoughts kept me awake at night. I’d take my pill at bedtime, and it would knock me out fifteen minutes later. The sleep was a nice side effect of antidepressants, except for when I wanted to stay up to watch a good movie and couldn’t help but fall asleep.

Antidepressants helped my insomnia, but they weren’t quite as effective with my social anxiety, which was the reason I was taking them in the first place. That, coupled with the other negative side effects they caused, I decided that antidepressants weren’t worth it for me. I wanted to try to cure my social anxiety with natural methods. My only fear was that once I stopped taking antidepressants, my insomnia would return.

Surprisingly, it didn’t.

While I was still taking antidepressants, I had cleaned up my diet and started to meditate daily. I think both were key to my overall health, and a natural cure to my insomnia. Insomnia, like social anxiety, comes from overthinking, and meditation teaches you how to notice your thoughts and quiet your mind. Meditation has helped me have less social anxiety related negative thoughts, and if I do have a negative thought, meditation helps me to at least notice it and be aware of that negative thought. Before meditation, I would constantly have wild thoughts running through my mind, and I wasn’t even conscious of it.

Meditation has quieted my mind so that when I lay down in bed and close my eyes, I fall asleep within minutes. And now, if I am especially anxious about a big event the next day and my mind is racing, I can meditate in bed. I simply focus on my breath… My thoughts disappear… And I fall asleep.

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