chapter II – journaling

Chapter II

Now that we have determined the sleep switch is in the metaphysical realm of understanding we understand why no one understands, but anyway we might be finding some solutions that work. I do hear that some adjustments work well for people that experience poor sleep from time to time. When time to time becomes a chronic disorder when I review sleep forums, I see few to no solutions that anyone comments, “wow did that work well for me, and my problems are solved”.
Sometimes I get discouraged when something feels like it might be working but ends up being short lived. I find when I work at solutions that will bring me back to normal sleep it can make things temporarily worse. The fact that I can go for a few weeks with improved sleep and then regress to poor sleep without identifying what happens. From times in therapy, I developed thought processes that desire evaluating your current position. Journaling helps from many different directions. The key area that most therapists work with is the transfer of thoughts from mind to paper so to transition brain activity to paper instead of playing with memory. Rumination is a dreaded default brain thought process for many people. I have not found any positive benefits but instead it is a negative process, certainly as it pertains to sleep disorders. When one goes over the same thoughts, repeatedly, without really getting any resolution, it works to write things down. The brain goes to a mode feeling that the thoughts will not get lost and relaxes the process.
You can also journal by keeping a pad and pencil at bedside and if some nighttime thoughts come to surface during the night, you can eliminate excess mental activity by moving those thoughts from your mind to paper and feel relaxed enough you can return to those thoughts at wake time leisure. Regretfully those thoughts are typically less creative than they felt at the time of awakening, but that is sufficient to realize why it is important to move them from mental memory to written memories. Unlike a computer your brain can only store so many thoughts without experiencing some sort of anxiety.
Sleep logs are a sort of journaling that can be beneficial towards understanding your sleep disorder. The logs are particularly useful when using techniques to change timing of your circadian rhythms. If you have delayed sleep phase disorder as I do, you can move ahead your sleep times a full 24 hours with the hopes of resetting the biological clock by making yourself so tired you fall asleep at preferred time. You can also do the opposite and set an alarm advancing wake up time on a planned basis in hopes that fall asleep time will coincide. While I cannot rule out these methods, I found these were temporary for me and the delayed circadian rhythm returned to night owl cycles. I also found that when attempting these techniques your functionality during the wake times dropped significantly while undergoing the process. For me I do not think it was the solution because it seemed not the problem. I have reason to believe it could have been after most of a decade on rotating shift work, a nightmare on long term health. I have lots of empathy for those that protect or serve us during nighttime and other odd shifts.
Some of the things that intrigue me about journaling and simple unwritten introspection are discovering subtleties of how the brain works. I was training myself to make mental notes of where I was at mentally before falling asleep and how I felt in the morning. In one particular ah moment I noticed when I woke up, my brain felt empty, and my thoughts returned to working fully by adding in three distinct layers of thought. I wish now I had journaled the process but basically it was like establishing where I was first then bang some thoughts as to what I had to do come to a working level and finally my brain seemed to load in some key worrisome issues I had been experiencing lately. This happened quickly but the first time I noticed brain functionality returning to me in distinct layers. I think now, very unscientifically, my brain releases me from anxious thoughts while in sleep phase but because I often wake up with new or resolved ideas the brain is working at a more efficient level. It is those anxiety related thoughts that affect my sleep, at least while trying to enter the off-switch mode, and then it returns later after awakening, but at a distinctively different thinking level. The anxiety returns after brain daytime start up sequence is complete.
This is my own interpretation of what might be going on in my mind that counters what should be the most natural process, my ability to switch to unconscious mode.

Now carry on to Chapter three