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Pro Insights

is a new section where professionals from different fields of health and wellness give pro insights to help YEYUers perform better, live healthier, and feel happier. 
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Today YEYU wants to share with you Pro Insights from: 

David Ammerschlaeger

Chief Psychological Counsellor ChingHo Clinic

Lecturer & TEDx Speaker



"20 years ago most people I treated suffered from depression related disorders. Nowadays, most people seem to be suffering from anxiety related disorders - a point of view shared by David and his coworker who has been practicing psychotherapy in Shanghai for more than 25 years.


Some people's lives seem more driven by anxiety related feelings than actual willpower.

Our fears and how they affect our sleep

Fear proceeds from our imagination. it is always the conscious or subconscious imagination of something defined or undefined. Our creative power being almost limitless, the sources of fear can be infinite.

I have clients who live in a continuous state of fear and dread, without being able to precisely tell me what could make them feel secure and safe. Sleep suffers particularly from this state of mind.

Depression on the other hand makes you feel miserable, stuck and sad. Its a relentless sadness.

This sadness can easily grow into despair, a general and overwhelming helplessness and hopelessness that pervades into every aspect of our lives and makes us feel stuck, paralyzed and apathetic.

These inner general feelings keep people awake at night. 

They cant find sleep, or they wake up in the middle of the night and only feel panic, helplessness or despair. Some dont even want to go to bed in the evening, because they fear the moment they close the light. It feels like "a small death". A death of joy, pleasure and hope.

Relinquishing control of our mind and our body for sleeping is for many people the closest experience to what we can imagine death could look like.

Clinical study of anxiety, depression and insomnia

Clinical studies show that people suffering from insomnia have three times more chances to develop clinical levels of depression, and that other psychological issues correlate negatively with sleep.

By treating both simultaneously, doctors have a better shot at improving a patients sleep quality, mood, and overall quality of life. It is the same for anxiety.

That means that you cannot dissociate a mental problem from another. Only by addressing the problem as a whole is it possible to fight off anxiety and/or depression related insomnia.


Any practical advice?

I see many self-help books and articles giving practical advice as to how to overcome sleep issues. And while often their advice is perfectly vaild, it is difficult to find sleep without finding oneself first.

So, instead of giving you a list of steps to follow, I would like to offer a few paths of growth and analysis. 

Decide that you want to sleep

Often, you follow whatever sleeping ritual you are advised to do but still you just lie awake. It happens that subconsciously you just dont want to sleep - youre still expecting something from it, the day cant just stop like that.

There is this fear of releasing our control and feeling a "little death, but also a certain disappointment in ending the day.

Was that all? My day just looked like any other day!

What is lacking is meaning.

So, before sleep, 

try to find a meaning for the day

Something that made this day worth living and that was different from other days. It can be as simple as a person who smiled to you that day, something somebody said and that made you laugh or that you enjoyed, a new idea or a new point of view you heard and that you might learn from.

The interpretation and meaning giving of daytime events often happens at night. Therefore, preparing that by focusing on positive events, feelings and emotions, things that bring safety, comfort and peace, not only help finding sleep but also building a more optimistic interpretation of events.

These feed directly into our dreams and also influence the quality of our sleep.

You can consult a therapist to help you in this endeavor, but ultimately the key to unlock your sleep potential is inside yourself.

Recreate a connection between your mind and body

Until now, we focused mainly on the mental side of sleep, but that is because of the mind's huge control over the body. Our minds usurp the experience of sleep when it actually pertains to our bodies.

Our body has its own intelligence and desires (click here to read more). They are repositories of our subconscious felt sensations, but are mostly suppressed by our minds. We avoid focusing on its messages and ignore its needs. However, our bodies make themselves noticed in unexpected ways if we dont listen: a stomach ache here, a nervous pain in the chest there and digestive issues to finish it all

While you go to bed, feel your body and connect to its own emotional reactions, to its sensations, without judging it, without any thought about these feelings and just sensing its existence and being.

While youre doing that, your body feels reassured, even if your mind is still anxious. Imagine you hug your body, you caress it, and show it love and care. Comfort it as much as you want and make it feel secure, then it will relax and open up.

Want to know more?

Of course, it works better if you work with a therapist who can guide you professionally.

This article is a shortened of the article originally published by David. It's also part of  a series of 5 articles he published on sleep. Click on the links below to learn more!

Do you sleep well enough? Sleep and waking decoded

How do you see yourself? Insomniac identity and sleeplessness

What to do against insomnia? Finding sleep

What do our dreams tell us?

If you would like to learn more about the case examples and studies of this article, click the link or read more below, and don't forget to subscribe to David's WeChat public account PsiCare:

David PsiCare

Please share this article to help more people!

Stay tuned on YEYU for more Pro Insights!
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