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Did you know that this is one of the most common wordings we use when we ask what to do when we have trouble sleeping? 

It’s not difficult to see why, because when we suddenly find ourselves anxiously awake at night, we can feel as if we have been struck. 

Now the answer to what to do in this situation, paradoxically, lies in taking a close look at the very question we are posing. 

When we use the word strike, we are implying that something has hit us. Someone or something has landed a blow that kept us awake rather than knocked us out. 

And naturally, when we feel attacked, we want to defend ourselves. We want to strike back. 

But before we do something drastic, it truly helps to look at where exactly the first blow came from?

The first blow

Here’s the thing, when our brain senses that we are in some form of danger, it activates our safety system, our fight and flight system. As part of this system being activated, we become more perceptive, more vigilant and more awake. 

This of course is really helpful when we are facing a real danger like having to drive when it’s snowing. But sometimes this system can be confused. 

Insomnia is a struggle we experience when we have become afraid of not sleeping, which is another way of saying we are afraid of being vigilant. 

And remember, that vigilance was part of our safety system. Insomnia happens when we are literally afraid of our body’s own safety system. 

The first blow does not come from an opponent or adversary that means to hurt us. Rather, we are struck by alertness and anxiety, both part of how our brain keeps us safe. 

If we attempt to strike back, all we will do is reinforce the idea that we are in danger, the very idea that created insomnia in the first place. 

On the other hand, when we make no attempt to fight, to escape or to strike at anything, then we are reinforcing the truth: there’s been a misunderstanding, nothing else. 

The last blow

As counterintuitive as it may sound, it’s when we make no attempts to fight back that our brain understands that there’s nothing out there to get us. 

We are safe. 

When this has been seen, there are no more blows or strikes. Only peace of mind and peaceful sleep.

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