How Unresolved Guilt Can Cause Insomnia
Many people can’t sleep at night, not without knowing that unresolved guilt can cause insomnia. They become anxious but don’t know how to seek treatment to find out the root cause.
Teh Healinghart Centre Clinical Psychologist, Ms Doreen Teh, shares this insightful story.
No one is perfect.
We all have made our fair share of mistakes in life. There are things we have done that still ‘haunts’ us.
Insomnia and Sleepless Nights
We may not realize how our past can affect us until we experience repeated negative consequences such as disturbed or poor quality sleep.
Many people have trouble falling asleep or get enough rest.
They may sleep fitfully, tossing and turning at night, and wake up feeling tired and feel like they haven’t slept at all.
Usually, they will see their general physician when they feel fatigued, and the lack of sleep has affected their work or other aspects of life.
They may start taking sleeping pills and become dependent on sleeping pills, which eventually lose their effectiveness.
Insomnia Caused by Unresolved Guilt
As insomnia sets in, the sufferers often felt anxious at bedtime when they walked into their bedroom.
Some may have tried many other ways to help themselves relax or sleep but have been unsuccessful.
This group of people may become too concerned about their health.
A few of them may become somewhat paranoid and believe they have some major health issues or severe illness.
Several years ago, I saw an elderly gentleman who confessed that he had seen many doctors and specialists to no avail. He still could not sleep.
After the First Healing Session for Unresolved Guilt
In our 1st session, he shared he could not forget something embarrassing he had done as a curious and cheeky kid.
It excited him whenever he successfully took something and did not get caught.
It could be a pencil or eraser or small items.
He liked the adrenaline rush and overtime; he took more critical things.
Now in his twilight years, as he goes down ‘memory lane,’ he felt ashamed and guilty for the ‘wrongs’ he had done.
I reminded him; it was never too late to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Even if the person we had wronged is not in front of us or willing to forgive, so long as we sincerely repent and ask for forgiveness, we can still enjoy this ‘letting go’ of our negative past.
No one is perfect.
We all have done wrong things in our lives.
In this case, it was clear he did not intentionally cause pain or harm to anyone or anything.
He can start this process by forgiving himself first.
Once he started forgiving himself, he began to call upon those who felt he might have hurt and asked for forgiveness.
It is important to remember; It is not as crucial if the other forgives us.
What matters most is we do what we can on our part? Leave the response to the other person!
At the next session, he was beaming and told me he had already felt better after our 1st session, and he started to practice the process of forgiveness.
Voila! He could sleep again and improve his mental health.
In the 4th session, he gladly informed me, he did not need to return the guilty culprit was gone!
Adding on, other things affect Sleep and Insomnia.
What to Do When You Can’t Sleep?
If you’re one of the millions of people who struggle with insomnia, you may find your mind racing as you struggle to fall asleep.
Sometimes, you can feel too tired to fall asleep.
Not sleeping for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health.
What are the types of insomnia?
Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing).
Acute insomnia is common and usually lasts for days or weeks.
Common causes include
- stress at work-family pressures or
- a traumatic event.
Chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer.
Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary – this means the insomnia is the symptom or side effect of some other problem;
Some of the problems are
- certain medical conditions
- other sleep disorders.
Substances such as caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can be a cause.
For some people, it can be the tannin in the tea.
Sometimes chronic insomnia is the primary problem that is not caused by some immediate event.
The cause of chronic insomnia is not well understood.
Long-lasting stress, emotional upset, travel and shift work can be factors that cause sleeplessness.
Primary insomnia usually lasts more than one month.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
Symptoms of insomnia include:
- Eyes are closed but feeling many thoughts running through your head
- Lying awake for a long time before you fall asleep
- Sleeping for only short periods
- Being awake for much of the night
- Feeling as if you haven’t slept at all
- Waking up too early
What are the treatments for insomnia?
Treatments for insomnia include lifestyle changes, counselling, and medicines.
Lifestyle changes include having good sleep habits that can often help relieve acute (short-term) insomnia.
These changes will make it easier for you to fall asleep.
And more importantly and stay asleep.
For chronic (ongoing) insomnia, there is a type of counselling called cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) that can help relieve the anxiety linked to not sleeping at night.
Some medicines can help relieve your insomnia.
What is missing is to re-establish a regular sleep schedule?
If your insomnia is the symptom or side effect of another problem, do find the time to treat the root cause problem (if possible).