Author Topic: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?  (Read 40479 times)

DANE01

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Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« on: January 17, 2011, 10:28:59 PM »
Hi there

Hope someone can help me.

Ive been doing meditation for a month now. I focus on the breath through the nose.

Its given me incredible benefits, but it is also making me unable to sleep. For the past 20 days i've had great difficulty falling asleep. Could this be because im entering some sort of meditative state when i go to bed?

Hope you can help. I dont want to give up meditation.

Greetings from Denmark, by the way

Vivek

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 05:53:03 AM »
Disruption of sleep cycles could be a sign that you are progressing in meditation. I am not sure of exactly what meditation you practise and how long you have been doing it. I recently came across a video in Youtube by Shinzen Young in which he explains how meditation can cause some insomnia or light sleep, and how to approach it when it happens. Not able to get the link now. You could do a search in Youtube for him. The video could prove helpful to you.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Jeeprs

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 06:21:49 AM »
I think it could be a result of the practice, specifically the 'liberation of energy' which has been locked up elsewhere and is being released by the practice. It happens to me occasionally.

One antidote might be long hard exercise to induce physical fatigue.

Stefan

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 07:35:53 AM »
Yes, as Jeeprs points out ... you free a lot of energy.

Next question has to be: do you feel refreshed when getting up from little or light sleep?
Many Yogis reduce their sleeping period to a minimum, because they don't need more sleep. So, it can be normal, especially if this is your first meditation period in your life. There are huge quantities of energy bound in the Sankaras you are currently releasing. What are you going to do with it?  :)

But if you feel exhausted due to your insomnia, if you feel depressed, can't concentrate ect., then it could be that your progress got stuck ... that means you don't dissolve a certain sankara, but you stick to it. It means starting to deal with deep-rooted problems instead of letting go. And this will cause a subconscious tension that makes it difficult to relax enough to fall asleep.

However, as Jeeprs points out, hard exercise will help! (that is to say, bodily exercise!) I used to walk long distances at maximum speed when I had to deal with meditation problems.

Also a very good thing to do: start Hatha Yoga ("Posture Yoga"). Many meditation teachers recommend it especially for us beginners in meditation. This will balance your whole self.

With Metta, Stefan
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 07:38:31 AM by stefan »
anicca

Matthew

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 11:15:22 PM »
Dane,

What time do you go to bed? Meditation releases much pent up energy and is tiring. If you are not getting enough sleep you may suffer sleepless nights.

Warmly,

Matthew
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Gadfly

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 12:28:20 PM »
I think it could be a result of the practice, specifically the 'liberation of energy' which has been locked up elsewhere and is being released by the practice. It happens to me occasionally.

I've noticed I am having much the same problem and the 'liberation of energy' you mention makes a lot of sense to me. I am also in counselling at the moment. Would that be a factor?

Morning Dew

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 12:44:56 PM »
This is what can help make you tired in the evenings;

Get up e.g. at 6 o'clock or earlier every morning no matter if you feel tired or not, shower and meditate or do yoga or Qigong or simply go out for a walk. Just make sure to get up.
Go to bed only when you feel tired and sleepy and not because it is 22.00h and you have to go to work etc... Go to sleep only when you feel tired.
Now, because you are getting up every morning early or earlier as you are used to the body/mind will start feeling sleepy earlier in the evening.

Another thing which happens to me is that I suddenly hear all sorts of subtle sounds which can even drive me mad and some simply keep me awake.
I use ear pluggs and man  ;D I only hear my breathing then and fall a sleep in minutes.
You might be disturbed by some very subtle sound you are still not aware of and ear pluggs would help ALOT here.

This too shall pass  :)

Hej Dane, välkommen på forumet och big hej från Malmo Sverige   ;D

Friendly Che

DANE01

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 05:19:59 PM »
Hi guys - thanks for all the input!

To answer a couple of your questions:


I use mindfulness of breath meditation, and spend around 20 minutes of meditation every morning - focusing on my breath, especially the breath around the nostrils. I think part of the problem is that it has made me very aware of my breath and also very "awake" in a funny way - so when I lie down at night to sleep, I instead of drifting off to sleep, suddenly become aware of my breath and start thinking "oh shit, I'm meditating, but I should try to go to sleep instead". And then I get caught in a vicious cycle of being irritated by this, and then focusing even more at my breath until sleep becomes possible.

When I wake up in the morning, I am not rested, and my body aches slightly.

I think the problem may be due to the fact that I suffer from anxiety (?).. The meditation has however done a great job of reducing this significantly within the last month though..

I dont really know what to do. The past two days Ive tried mantra meditation instead, in order to focus on something else than my breath, and that has helped. I think Ill go back to breath meditation, however, and see if I cant figure out a way to beat this insomnia cycle.

What would you do, if you were in my shoes? :)


DANE01

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 05:23:25 PM »
@Vivek

Thanks for the Shinzen Young tip by the way - but I cant seem to find the video..

@CheGueBuddha

Hey there fellow Scandinavian :) - I actually do a lot of physical exercise throughout the week, so I dont think thats the cause. The cause is rooted in some kind of mental process, I think..

Morning Dew

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 11:26:32 PM »
Quote
focusing on my breath, especially the breath around the nostrils.

Try and stop doing this nose meditation and instead be simply aware of the whole body breathing including all body sensations. Try and switch to Shamatha for a while and see if it works better for you.
Anapana at nose can bring up energy into the head keeping you awake AWAKE. It is about balancing the whole body-mind not just the mind-nose ;)

dobe

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2011, 04:37:55 AM »
I remember having troubles sleeping when I started meditating, especially if I meditated before bed...
Now I fall asleep quite easily, especially since school is in and I have to do so much left brain studying(i study accounting lawl).

Try reading a book for 20-30minutes before bed, engage your thinking part of your mind, do some stretches, then just release?

Also what Che Guebuddha says, too much nose meditation I think can bring energy up to your head.  I find where ever I bring my awareness too, energy seems to pool there now...

dobe

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 05:39:56 AM »
aaaand I can't get to sleep tonight. LoL :D

Venetian

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2011, 11:36:11 AM »
Try and stop doing this nose meditation and instead be simply aware of the whole body breathing including all body sensations. Try and switch to Shamatha for a while and see if it works better for you.

Very interesting indeed... I prefer body-awareness as well!  :)

Matthew

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2011, 01:02:58 PM »
Dane,

What time do you go to bed? Meditation releases much pent up energy and is tiring. If you are not getting enough sleep you may suffer sleepless nights.

Warmly,

Matthew
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Rocket

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2011, 03:09:05 PM »
Effective Shamatha practice can trigger a huge variety of different "nyam" or meditative experiences according to the well trained instructor I learned from. It's said to be one way to know  practice is effective.  Insomnia would be one possibility.  It can become quite harrowing. Similar even to a rough acid trip.

Carl Jung taught us that peak and or mystical experience often follows a moment we allow ourselves down into a nadir experience. 

Gadfly

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2011, 09:45:34 AM »
Carl Jung taught us that peak and or mystical experience often follows a moment we allow ourselves down into a nadir experience. 

That sounds interesting. Can you tell more about it.

Matthew

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2011, 01:37:27 PM »
Try and stop doing this nose meditation and instead be simply aware of the whole body breathing including all body sensations. Try and switch to Shamatha for a while and see if it works better for you.

Very interesting indeed... I prefer body-awareness as well!  :)

It is what the Buddha taught. All this nose business in nonsense and never mentioned in the Suttas. Paramukham is the Pali word in the Suttas that leads to this confusion. Search for it from the forum homepage to find how that confusion arises and persists.
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Rocket

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2011, 02:30:57 PM »
Shamatha practice for me is anything but tiring.  So serene,  restoring,  restful when done with relaxation as the baseline,  letting go in stead of huge effort.  The "huge effort" or "straining" technique is known to burn people out and result in unsustainable progress.  Relaxing completely can be oddly difficult when lots of crapola is coming at us from the back of our own minds.


I find focussing more narrowly just on the sensations at the tip of the nose seems to be useful as one progressive  step along a continuum leading to ability to focus attention at will generally ....  I've heard it taught this way.  

Progressive steps for acquiring stability: ...  sequentially: the whole body,    the chest,  then tip of the nose ....  is to turn to the space of the mind and its contents,  if any.  That one was oddly elusive at first,  tremendously interesting.  

I gather its a step toward Dzogchen,  though my first hand experience is limited.


friendlyhugstoall

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2011, 11:32:38 PM »
dear Dane,

it is never really the thing itself that is causing the trouble. It is the way you relate to it.
you say:
 ...so when I lie down at night to sleep, I instead of drifting off to sleep, suddenly become aware of my breath and start thinking "oh shit, I'm meditating, but I should try to go to sleep instead".
there are two ways you deal with it.
1. without focusing keep noticing what is happening. when you are thinking: Oh shit, I'm mediating you are not really focused on the breath. Rather, you are thinking. So notice that. I should try to go to sleep. Another thought. Notice that. Let it be. All that comes naturally. Then the mind focuses on breath again. Fine, let it be that way. Then comes another thought: Oh, my God, tomorrow I'll be so tired, I won't be able..., fine be with that: you can say, oh, look miss anxiety is here as well :), then comes another, I want to stop it, enough of that crap!! Oh, mister aversion is also here :) ok, let me see how long will you last. Do you understand?
Just relate in a friendly way to whatever appears on the mental stage. Befriend it. Be gentle to everything. To aversion, anxiety, sadness, happiness, amazement. Insomnia. Become a friend to it.
2. wish yourself well. It is the practice of Metta:
May I meet my experience in a friendly way
May I be peaceful
May I peacefully experience my thoughts, bodily sensations, sounds...
gently repeat that whishes and focus on the meaning. it is not a mantra work. Understand the meaning.
Find wishes that works for you.
It is in wishing to be well, peaceful and happy that a special energy arises. It is called love.

with Metta,


thelastrich

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2011, 12:07:42 AM »
That last advice is very good.
I sometimes become aware of being thinking and say to myself: "ahá.... so be it..." or something like that.
So for what I understand, I should not think any word, just watch and feel.

kidnovice

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2011, 01:53:40 AM »
Yes, FHTA's advice is good. :)

I sometimes become aware of being thinking and say to myself: "ahá.... so be it..." or something like that.
So for what I understand, I should not think any word, just watch and feel.

Not so fast! If saying "aha... so be it..." works to create space, cultivates a calm awareness, and allows you to return to your breath in a non-judgmental way, that's a good thing! Don't simply stop doing it because someone tells you not to!  There are no should's. There is just what works.

"Talking to yourself" is one of many crutches that you can use when you meditate. Learn to walk with the crutch, and when you don't need it, drop it. Then, if you later find it helpful to walk with it a bit, pick it up again... but just as long as you need it. You obviously don't want to become dependent on it.

So, learn to use "verbalization" if it helps, and then as soon as it stops working (or you don't need it), see if you can maintain the same sort of gentle and accepting awareness without verbalizing. What matters is the type of awareness that you cultivate. You want that awareness to be calm and friendly, strong and accepting. Anyway you get there is fine.

Practice intelligently,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

ivana

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2011, 08:20:19 AM »
Hi Dane
I can not know why you suffer by insomnia. But it could be that meditation bring us more to reality and maybe you have a problem which makes you that you can not sleep.
Have a nice day

Ivana

DANE01

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2011, 08:38:32 AM »
Hi guys

Thanks a lot for all the answers! I think friendlyhugstoall actually nailed it: The problem is not the "thing" itself, but the way I relate to it: I suffer from anxiety, and have started meditation to try and overcome it. It has worked wonders - within a month around 80% of my anxiety was gone. But I recently realized that this sleeping problem is simply a by-product of my anxiety, and not a by-product of meditation in itself.

I managed to defeat the problem about a week ago, simply by realizing that sleep and meditation were two much different states, and that I did not "meditate at night" as I thought - I was simply being manipulated by my anxiety. Once I realised that, I managed to just enter a state of indifference when going to sleep, and just using my willpower to gently zone out, into a state of relaxation and sleep, instead of a state of anxious focus on whatever might be hindering me from sleeping.

So far so good. But alas, a new problem has arisen - nobody said defeating anxiety was easy  ;). About 2 weeks ago, just a week before my experience described above, I decided to stay up all night, in order to tire my body and make me sleep better the other day (I couldnt sleep any way). I usually meditate in the morning, and when I meditated that morning (I used a mantra meditation instead of mindfulness meditation), I nearly fell asleep and woke up with a chock! Now that has produced the most peculiar effect ever: For a full week after that, every time I was very close to falling asleep (drifiting off), I would wake up with the same kind of chock, completely wakening me up.

This would go on for a full week, and typically I would get 2 hours of sleep one night, and then the next day I would just collapse in bed and get 7 hours, and then 2 hours the next day. Crazy stuff. I had trouble opening and closing my hands on the 6th day, due to sleep deprivation!..  ::)

The problem stopped about a week ago. But yesterday, when I was about to meditate, I felt very anxious about perhaps falling asleep when meditating. I know this is irrational: I've never been close to falling asleep while meditating, except that one time where I had been awake for 24 friggin hours. I know I would not fall asleep, and yet I still felt anxious. I felt the anxiety building inside me while meditating, but I was to afraid to shift my focus from the breath to deal with the anxiety. And voila: Now I have the same problem with waking up in a state of anxiety every time I am close to falling asleep..

The problem will probably fade out in a week or so, but I want to continue meditation, preferably without experiencing this problem again. I am sitting here at 9 in the morning typing, without having any sleep, and its becoming quite hard to feel my fingers  ;).

Anyone know what to do?


DANE01

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2011, 11:41:01 PM »
By the way, I usually go to bed at 23.00 in the evening, and get up at 7.00 in the morning. But now the insomnia is there again - its past midnight and yet I dont feel tired. I just feel very much "awake" in a funny way. It has been like that since I started getting results with my meditation..

This may be a panicky idea, but would mantra meditation be better for me? Perhaps it wouldnt make me feel so awake all the time, or so aware of my own breath/body that I get caught up in feeling very much awake when I lie down to sleep. I know the answer is that it is probably the way I relate to it that is wrong, but so far I cant seem to change it..

Christ, this is harder than I thought it would be..


Matthew

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Re: Meditation is causing insomnia for me - why?
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2011, 10:56:04 AM »
Dane,

Don't try too hard to change anything, change will come naturally. In the evening when you meditate try not to do it too close to bedtime or too close to dinnertime if you can. Stick with the calm abiding practice.

To overcome the insomnia I think there is a very simple thing you can try. About half an hour to 20 minutes before you go to bed, sit down and relax a little. Then make a list of all the things that you have to do the next day, anything you have been putting off and anything that is worrying or concerning you. Don't work yourself up about it, do it gently with respect for yourself and these concerns, and do it comprehensively.

In the morning when you have woken, stretched, showered, meditated etc. take a look at the list and see if there are things you have been putting off - and do them.

Sleeplessness and anxiety can both be symptoms of learned procrastination. Learned procrastination is an extremely common problem in our modern world. It is a way of coping with the inconsistent and incoherent messages given to you as a child about the value of your own feelings and wishes against those of the people who raised you. "Do this now", you are told. The message here from the person giving the instruction is "my feelings matter a great deal, yours do not matter at all". The way we cope with this loss of power in the face of lies is to procrastinate, do it slowly, later, badly - or not at all.

This reaction also leaves us feeling an anxiety we can't quite identify but which is pervasive. Each time we do something to enforce our own "will to power" through forms of procrastination we know we are breaking the injunction "do it now, your feelings do not matter". We feel bad. Anxious.

This comes over into adult life as a tendency to procrastinate and put things off. It leaves us in a constant state of mild anxiety - and when we relax through meditation this is often one of the first habitual conditioned reactions we face and must surmount. We have to relearn that we are in charge, that our feelings (and others) matter - have equal value - and unlearn the forms of procrastination that we employ unconsciously.

Thus by writing each night a list of things to do and worries or concerns - not too near bedtime, but as part of the routine - we take these worries out of our minds and onto the paper. This allows for much better sleep - as long as one also engenders the habit of looking at the paper in the morning and asking "what can I do that is on this list right now, today?"

Stop worrying about your meditation. Stop playing around with it. Stick to basic Shamatha and realise it will change you. If you are not making the changes off the cushion that meditation is leading you towards then you are creating stress where the meditation is relieving it and creating a tension between the practice and reality. The "procrastination list" is a good method of working out what some of these needed changes might be.

23.00 is an OK time to sleep. If you need an alarm to wake you at 07.00 then you might want to experiment with going to bed earlier. I have found, after much experimentation, that my bodymind likes to sleep at 21.00hrs and wake at between 05.00 - 06.00hrs - this is a very natural time to sleep (genetically/historically) and also the hours you are sleeping before midnight are much more powerful than hours after midnight.

Warm regards,

Matthew

NB. Being aware of your breath and body will not keep you from sleeping: hiding from the feelings that awareness brings up, will. Mantra meditation for you would almost certainly be a form of hiding.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 10:58:09 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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